Older IT workers Bring “The Long View” and “Emotional Maturity”

Hiring in the IT industry suffers from a lack of appreciation of “The Long View”.   Often, since the timelines are project driven, the primary goal is to hire people with correct technical skills who can do the work as quickly as possible in as short a time as possible.  Start Ups companies are particularly vulnerable to the “Short View” since they need to produce a viable product before the money burn ends.

What is “The Long View”?  It’s judgment based on industry and personal experience.  Its the ability to apply one’s long view of an industry to new tasks with judgment that can “cut through the crap” and get to the hear of the matter.

Older workers bring the long view to their jobs | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

I love reading stories like this since the quotes are widely applicable and resonate with my experience.

“I can get down to the substance very quickly and see what the likelihood of success can be or will be,” agreed Fred Colen, a 67-year-old intellectual property attorney from Shadyside.

I’ve written before that for the Older IT worker, knowing, keeping, and communicating performance metrics is critical to communicate your value.  Young workers often will put in long hours, work late into the night, and appear to be working twice as hard as the old Geezer Geek who leaves regularly at 5:00pm.  I’ve heard of executives blown away when they realize the fat balding old “grey hair” is producing three times the code that the young “all nighters” are producing.

“The Long View” that comes from experience also teaches one to value relationships.  Consistently, I read that industry values soft skills, emotional maturity and “people come first”, however in practice many companies look purely at certs, skills, and hard skills.  While “soft skills” might sound “airy fairy” to a hard nosed executive, the do in the long term produce solid value through the production of internal and external good will.

“What she lacked in depth of knowledge about sewer systems and EPA regulations pertaining to sewerage, she made up in the years of being able to take complex environmental topics and translate them to the public.”

Internal goodwill is a phrase I use to describe how much employees value being part of a company as members of its community.  Companies with little internal goodwill either have a very transient workforce, or the relationship between the company and its employees is not valued.  In companies where the environment is described as “toxic” the good will balance sheet has descended into the red.

Companies in East Asian cultures will easily understand the concept of internal goodwill.  Some of these companies instill such a fierce loyalty that being part the companies function as a second family to the employees.  Leaving for another company, which many North Americans will consider without thought, is akin to a divorce.  The relationship to the community is not something employees will easily cast aside for a 10% or even 25% increase in money.  Consequently, these companies tend to be more solid, have excellent retention rates (you are not educating someone in order to be poached), and employees are able to pass on valuable skills to the next generation.

Anyone with business experience understand that commerce is not primarily about earning money, but earning good will.  In sales there is a saying, “You can make a sale, but lose the customer”.  You might have scored big money, but the customer will later realize what happened and never come back and any future sales lost.  Making an extra $1000, might mean the loss to the company of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next couple decades.  Older workers with experience have “the long view” and recognize the truth in my point, since the horizon of their perspective is beyond getting one big score.

Within the Tech Industry, “The Long View” means taking a longer perspective with projects so short term gains do not produce long term pain or death for the organization.  Even within a Start-Up, if the system architecture is shoddy, and/or the code of poor quality, and/or best practices cast aside in order “to get produce out”, the common issues of being “unable to scale”.  I’ve heard of some Start Ups having to attempt a complete re-write in the middle of expanding acceptance of their product.  Those with “the long view” know that when constructing a building, laying the foundations usually is 50% of the task.  It’s wisdom born of experience.