Mid-Career Blues – How to Stay Relevant in the Modern Workplace?

Uncategorized Feb 18, 2020

If you started working ten or twenty years ago or more, chances are, the world of work looks very different to you now.  Technology has already had an incredible impact on the way we communicate, and with AI and Machine Learning coming down the line, it’s about to change at an even greater speed.  It can be difficult to keep up, not only with technological advances, but with the cultural changes too.

It may be that you’ve been in the same company since leaving school or university (although unlikely), or perhaps you’re managing a team of people or running a company.  Your employees may have a very different idea about how things should be done compared with when you first started out.  Things are changing quickly in terms of values and behaviors, it’s easy to want to cling on to the way things used to be.  Millennial's are already re-shaping the relationship between employee and employer, demanding a more equal say in how a company is run.  Team working, sometimes across borders or/and virtually, has become more and more commonplace, as companies focus on creative solutions and complex problem solving – the things machines cannot replicate. 

But what if you’re not a thrusting young tech savvy individual with your finger on the pulse.  What if you’ve spent the past twenty or thirty years refining your skills, based on the principles which were commonplace when you first started.  Perhaps you were used to a more hierarchical workplace, so the idea of flatter structures fills you with dread.  A globalized world also means working with different cultures around the world, perhaps in virtual teams.  We need a code of behavior which can override those differences, to ensure we work respectively and effectively with others.

Add to this, the fact that we’re all living and so working much longer than we used to.  Retirement ages around the world are steadily increasing to factor in the rates of longevity.  In light of this it’s not just young people who need to work on adapting their skills, we all do.

Also in light of the endless technological distractions, particularly social media – rather than fighting against the need to adapt our way of working, perhaps we just to accept it and do something about it. 

What’s for sure is that, re-skilling is necessary for everyone in a company.  Rather than just focusing on technical or practical skills, it’s the softer skills that count.  In this particular scenario, cognitive flexibility is really important, in order to switch between the multiple demands on your time and energy.  Complex problem solving is also essential in order to work through the challenges your company will inevitably face as a team, so collaboration with your colleagues is key.  Most crucial of all is the need to adapt, stay flexible and constantly keep your skills up to date.  It’s never too late to learn!

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