Saturday, January 29, 2011

The downside of being young

A New York Times' article on older Japanese workers marginalising their younger colleagues underlines how little the old understand the young.

It is a biting commentary on older generations hanging on to their vested interests at the expense of their young's professional development.

Young Japanese workers are frustrated but are stumped by what to do about it.

They need to find an outlet for their many talents and interests.

Some young Japanese have not only quit their jobs -- after a period of trying to gain acceptance -- but left their country as well.

The phenomenon is not peculiar to Japan. At a certain publishing company in Malaysia you will hear a similar story.

Top executives are reluctant to promote promising thirty-somethings to decision-making positions for reasons best known to themselves.

An enlightened top-level executive may want to act on his middle manager's suggestion to move a bright young staff member to a higher rank but he will need all the energy he can get to overcome all hurdles put before him by people from the Human Resources Department.

It does not matter if the young worker in question is deserving of promotion.

We hear of great working environments in game-changing companies such as Google where the young are allowed to fully express themselves and rewarded for their creativity.

It sounds like a dream.

Talented young Malaysian employees, like their Japanese counterparts mentioned in the New York Times' article, are exactly the type of people that the publishing company needs to boost its falling circulation figures and change the face of an aging organisation.

It is unfortunate that they are not given a chance to show what they can do.

Many have left and further resignations are expected. Nobody wants to work in a firm where the negative attitudes of older workers foster a culture of failure.

A dramatic reversal of policy still seems light years away.

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