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Do age gaps hinder performance?

Tim Cox
April 26, 2024

Amidst some signs of increased tensions across generations, Management Futures MD Tim Cox was recently interviewed for an ‘Ignites Europe’ Article by Robert Van Egghen reporter at the Financial Times. Robert was exploring themes related to a report that highlighted lower productivity amongst employees who have managers from older generations. The employees felt their ideas and preferences were not considered which affected their performance.

With as many as 5 generations in the workforce, Tim reflected that “Frustrations among younger staff over a lack of career progression could increase as the number of older generations in the workforce also rises”.  


The four quarters of life model from generational balance consultant Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, offers an interesting lens into how companies will have to adjust to an ageing workforce.

The model argues those under 24 are in the "growing" phase of their career, while staff aged between 25 and 50 are typically in the "achieving" part, gaining responsibilities and rewards. At 50 professionals might once have anticipated a few short years before receiving a retirement watch, longer life expectancy means they will instead enter a third phase in their careers – "becoming". Whilst people over 75 and in the 4th quarter (“harvest”) will be ever more prevalent in the workforce.  

Depending on your outlook the opportunity and/or the challenge is for organisations to engage effectively with all four generations. Understanding needs can ensure each generation engages effectively with the others creating wins for employees and organisations.

For example, those over 75 can possess great knowledge and expertise; and they may not wish to ‘keep pedalling hard’ in high pressure senior leadership roles into their 4th quarter (though they may!). They may be tempted by the opportunity to stay on in more flexible part time roles that enable more freedom. This in turn could create pathways for younger ambitious team members whilst ensuring wisdom is retained.  

Whilst sharing his experience and learnings Tim was keen to stress that individuals are unique, and though they may have some things in common with others of a similar age there’s inherent risk in assuming too much. The best way to understand a person's needs is to view them as individuals and commit to finding out. Yes, it may take time and it’s likely to be time well spent.

Our April Learning Lab with Tim Cox and Una Murphy entitled “The Intergeneration Game” built on some of these themes. We seized the moment to look at potential areas of tension as well as all the opportunities there are within multi-generational organisations.

If you’d like to find out more, or have your own multi-generational conundrums and need some help, do please contact us on info@managementfutures.co.uk.

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