Due to a rapidly growing population, the North Pole has tripled its operational capacity over the last fifty years. And like many corporate businesses with large operational workforces, the North Pole has been forced to adapt. They now have state-of-the-art shipping facilities, a well fleshed out behaviour framework and a progressive executive team.
But with this growth, there have been some setbacks. Namely, Santa Claus. The poor fellow has had a tough time adapting to this new way of operating. He can often be found wandering the factory floor reminiscing about the “good old days with Rudolph and the boys”. And when he manages to do something, he makes lots of errors and distracts his colleagues.
Marvin the Manager Elf kept shying away from the topic. He told himself that “it won’t be long until the old man retires, we just have to put up with him until then”. One day, Heidi the Human Resources Elf overheard Marvin say such a thing. Heidi was incensed. She scolded Marvin, “just because someone is an older worker, doesn’t mean you should treat them any differently, even Santa Claus!”
Marvin mumbled something non-sensical in response. He didn’t think he had done anything wrong; he just wanted a quiet life and to keep everybody happy. Marvin simply thought that the more mistakes Santa made, the sooner he would realise the North Pole no longer needed him.
Then there was Mrs Claus. Mrs Claus was thriving in this new operation. She gained fabulous industrial ovens and a team of world-renowned chefs to help her develop the tastiest treats for the festive period. However, due to her age, people kept treating her differently. They assumed that she didn’t understand how to work the swanky new ovens or enjoy the new vegan and gluten-free ranges.
Just the other day, Daisy the Dessert Elf Manager was questioning her capabilities. Instead of asking Mrs Claus to make the vegan and gluten-free Christmas cake, she gave the job to young Lucy, the elf-university graduate! Daisy simply assumed, that due to her age, Mrs Claus wouldn’t know how to make something that wasn’t ‘traditional’.
Little did Daisy know; the recipe was one of Mrs Claus’ own. She had been perfecting it for years! This oversight left Mrs Claus feeling sad and invisible. A couple of hours later, Heidi wandered into the kitchen to see how all the Christmas preparations were coming along. She spotted Mrs Claus looking miserable in the corner. Heidi was concerned to see her dejected. It was highly unusual to see Mrs Claus anything less than brimming with enthusiasm.
Heidi gently probed the root of Mrs Claus’ concern. It didn’t take long for Mrs Claus to explain why she was upset. Heidi was not happy. This was the second time that ineffective management of older workers had been bought to her attention. Whilst she was concerned that managers weren’t displaying the North Pole’s behaviours and competencies, she was also concerned about the organisation’s reputation. Santa’s Grotto prided itself on being a fantastic equal opportunities employer. What would people think if this blatant ageism got out? It had the potential to ruin Christmas!
To tackle the issue head-on, Heidi brought together all of those in managerial positions for a half-day training course on managing the older worker. There was one key learning message throughout the session: treat all workers in the same way.
Heidi outlined that, in the case of Santa Claus, it’s imperative to use the same rules and procedures you would for anyone who isn’t performing as you would expect. Just because someone is due to retire soon, doesn’t mean you should hold off on addressing the issue.
And in the case of Mrs Claus, managers need to know about their employee’s strengths and weaknesses. You must not assume that just because someone is older, they are unable to keep up with new technologies and trends. Heidi’s session prompted a conversation amongst the elves. They had been treating Mr and Mrs Claus unfairly. And they resolved to rectify the poor management decisions that had been made.
As part of the session, Heidi showed the elves a short 3-minute video called Managing The Older Worker from a British company called Scott Bradbury. Heidi explained that they had subscribed to the library of over sixty videos that offered performance support on-the-job. And the videos were available to every single employee of the North Pole on an unlimited annual licence. This meant, the next time they encountered a management or communication problem, they could refer to the videos for helpful tips and phrases.
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