Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This was me!!

So there I was in late 2004 wondering why I felt like I did after 35 years working in NHS management.

Now (through serendipity) I’ve stumbled on an article in the March 2006 edition of Harvard Business Review that explains it all.

Apparently, I was suffering from ... MIDDLESENCE!!!

No it is not some new illness... it is a new expression describing the 'fedupness' of so many people between 35 and 55 years of age working in the corporate world. Amen to this article I say

Are you in a dead end job? - If so welcome to middlescence.

And just like your younger siblings known as ‘adolescents’ you have a choice - rattle the cage, shake the tree and make a difference or just stay there in your own world keeping quiet and moaning but actually doing nothing positive about it.

Here is a copy of the abstract of the article. You can see it

Managing Middlescence

Robert Morison, Tamara Erickson, Ken Dychtwald

March 2006 Issue

Abstract: They make up more than half your workforce. They work longer hours than anyone else in your company. From their ranks come most of your top managers. They're your mid-career employees, the solid citizens between the ages of 35 and 55 whom you bank on for their loyalty and commitment. And they're not happy. In fact, they're burned out, bored, and bottlenecked, new research reveals. Only 33% of the 7,700 workers the authors surveyed feel energized by their work; 36% say they're in dead-end jobs. One in three is not satisfied with his or her job. One in five is looking for another. Welcome to middlescence. Like adolescence, it can be a time of frustration, confusion, and alienation. But it can also be a time of self-discovery, new direction, and fresh beginnings. Today, millions of mid-career men and women are wrestling with middlescence--looking for ways to balance work, family, and leisure while hoping to find new meaning in their jobs. The question is: Will they find it in your organization or elsewhere? Companies are ill-prepared to manage middlescence because it is so pervasive, largely invisible, and culturally uncharted. That neglect is bad for business: Many companies risk losing some of their best people or--even worse--ending up with an army of disaffected people who stay. The best way to engage middlescents is to tap into their hunger for renewal and help them launch into more meaningful roles. Perhaps managers can't grant a promotion to everyone who merits one in today's flat organizations, but you may be able to offer new training, fresh assignments, mentoring opportunities, even sabbaticals or entirely new career paths within your own company. Millions of mid-career men and women would like nothing better than to convert their restlessness into fresh energy. They just need the occasion--and perhaps a little assistance--to unleash and channel all that potential.


Eric Pennington said...

Tremendous post on what so many feel, but never talk about. These are the "working dead." Here's to the awakening. As corporate America faces the coming worker shortage (especially in management positions)this will have even more impact.

Thanks for sending your inspiring thoughts across the Atlantic!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Eric - for me it was a case of 'feeling like' I was in the wrong place physically and emotionally but not being sure what to do about it. Circumstances conspired to give me the push I needed and I have not regretted it for one second after 18 months of self employment. I am a better person emotionally and professionally. I still don’t know whether I will be able to earn enough each month to eat but hey - it beats being ‘dead’ in corporate life. I think many people are stuck and don’t know they are stuck. I feel for them

Thanks for your kind comments

Justin Levine said...

I know a lot of Executives in organisations that believe they are trapped. How many do you think voluntarily leave for self-employment and how many wait until they are pushed? And if they are pushed, how many feel that they should have left earlier?

Perhaps organisations could offer a 1 year unpaid sabattical that offers the executive to try a new direction on the agreement that he/she could return after 1 year?

How many do you think would return?

Trevor Gay said...

Great questions Justin

My personal ‘guess’ answers as follows:

Less than 10% leave as a ‘positive’ decision i.e. 90% wait to be pushed – sad isn’t it?

100% would wish they left earlier!

If people were offered a 1 year sabbatical I suspect no one would go back.

Dmitry Linkov said...

That's something similar with what my dad suffers of.
I'm just wondering if you can help me a bit with this? My dad is a great man, and he understands english a bit. If I call you sometimes with him being online, can you say some insipiring words for him? Maybe this will change situation in his mind.

And also I will be happy to chat with you Trevor ;).
We also can try to use skype.

Trevor Gay said...

Happy to chat anytime Dmitry, with you and your Dad! - My Skype name is trevorsimplicity

Marilyn said...

Yes, so many of corporate employees suffer from this disease--I call it resignation to circumstances. Trevor, I don't believe in accidents.For my 50th birthday I took one of those long dreamed for vacations. Most of the time I was by myself, thinking hard about what the next years would bring. A few months later I, too, bailed out of traditional corporate life. Now I work for a start-up that has not only helped me be happier but has also given me the flexibility to do freelance work that fulfills me. I now see the next stage of life clearly, something many corporate folk deem 'retirement' but for me is far from it. Bravo for pointing out the affliction--hopefully more will recognize it and act before being pushed!

Trevor Gay said...

Great comments Marilyn - Tom Peters says '60 is the new 30' and I agree with that.

At 54 I feel young enough to work for another 30 years!

The freedom of self employment and freelance work is still 'new' to me and I love it.

I have to work to eat and there is no greater accountability than to yourself and yet I feel so less stressed now.