Age with dignity—and a protégé

Engineers need to work with Generation X and Y employees to shore up their firm’s knowledge base.

05/15/2013


Age. That little three-letter word has so many connotations. For some, age equates with wisdom. It means that a person is well-traveled, has a life rich with family and friends, and is financially secure. For others, it means frailty, physical ailments, or mental concerns. Age also brings pain and suffering, loss of friends and family, and an uncertain future. Most would agree that, however you look at it, with age comes experience, born of seeing and doing many things throughout life.

In the United States, we have an aging populating. “The silent generation” or “traditionalists” (born 1927 to 1945) are dying, and baby boomers have become leaders in the workplace and the community. Baby boomers, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, are turning 65 (retirement age) at a rate of 10,000 people per day, according to Pew Research Center population projections. While many baby boomers are delaying retirement due to financial issues, the rate of knowledge loss is still high. As these wise, experienced people leave the workforce, we are losing their been-there, done-that expertise. In discussions with many of you, I’ve heard stories about long-term relationships with clients evaporating when someone retires, or team leadership retiring right along with an individual.

Many studies have looked at how each generation treats—and should be treated in—the workplace. If you’re not familiar with these reports on how each age group acts and reacts, I encourage you to find a couple of reputable sources to help you define your firm and employees. For example, this paper, “Traditionalists, Boomers, Xers, and Millennials: Giving and Getting the Mentoring You Want,”  from Cathy A. Trower, PhD, at Brown University breaks down each of the four generations working side-by-side in simple formats. In our monthly Career Smart column, we cover mentoring, hiring, and retaining company knowledge—all quick reads with several references.

40 Under 40While the topic of succession planning has been covered here before, I again urge you to ensure your firm—small or large—has a plan in place to port knowledge from older, wiser team members to younger, less experienced engineers. As we plan for the future of building engineering, we need to look to the Generation X employees who are already leading in their own resourceful ways. Generation X, born 1965 to 1980, typically is characterized as college educated, highly adaptive, and self-reliant. You can meet several Gen X leaders in the 40 Under 40 section.

Millennials (also known as Generation Y, born 1981 to 2000), who are quickly moving into leadership and management positions, also need to be groomed to be principals or team leaders. While they lean toward using technology to communicate (think texting, social media, or e-mail), they also can use this technology to leverage themselves within a firm. Achievement-oriented, team player, and committed individuals fall into this group.

One positive aspect of aging: We all age at the same pace. Take the time now to help your junior team members gain wisdom and knowledge before the elder engineers leave.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me