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Lisa Taylor, Challenge Factory

A little while ago, I heard something that made me laugh: Inside every old person is a young person going, “What the hell just happened?” I’m 45, and I’m reaching the point in my career where a good percentage of it is behind me. So I thought it was the perfect time to talk with Lisa Taylor, who is the president of a consulting and support service called Challenge Factory. Their tagline says it all: “It’s your career. What are you waiting for?”

Today, Lisa joins me to share her insights on the challenges of transitioning into a third, fourth or even fifth phase of your career, and what that means both for employees and for organizations.

In this interview, Lisa and I discuss:

  • How to be happy and fulfilled at every phase of your career
  • Why prolonged life expectancy should shift our perspective on working life expectancy
  • How senior leaders set the tone in the workplace
  • The high cost of senior level disengagement, and how it affects retention, recruitment, productivity and culture at all levels of the organization
  • Why it pays to get creative in deploying workforce talent
  • The importance of looking beyond a job title to identify skills and interests

 (Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Lisa Taylor.

0:02:12: Lisa brings Michael up to speed on why she’s interested in supporting people in the “final third” of their careers. She explains that it stems back to her years as a manager at Hewlett-Packard, when a high number of employees expressed that they didn’t know what they wanted to do next in their career and were sticking out their current jobs simply to bring in money. Lisa points out the toll this takes on a company, by way of lost productivity, and on the individual worker, who gets up every weekday knowing they’re “doing it just to get through.”

0:05:11: Michael and Lisa discuss the fact that although the average Canadian has a life expectancy of 82 – up 21 years since the early 1930s – the retirement age has remained at 65. Lisa points out that, in order for 100% of the workforce to be productive, we need to reassess how every generation can contribute in the workplace. Michael adds that disengagement goes beyond senior level workers, and Lisa concurs, outlining how senior leadership sets the tone for the organization, and that if they’re disengaged, it causes real problems with retention, recruitment and productivity.

0:08:46: Michael asks how we can do things differently, to which Lisa proposes developing a more sustainable model that capitalizes on the current strengths of workers in the latter third of their careers.

0:10:52: Michael and Lisa exchange thoughts on the notion that a person’s job description isn’t necessarily indicative of their strengths, passions and abilities. They consider that people will have changed over the course of a 30-year career, and should reassess whether their current role is still the best fit for their skills and interests.

0:12:54: Michael asks Lisa where the responsibility lies for making these change. She suggests that it’s a combination of career management and talent management, and that company executives as well as individual workers need to take initiative in identifying where the employee’s strengths currently lie.

0:15:32: Lisa states that between 50% and 75% of people in management and leadership roles are over the age of 55. In spite of that, less than 10% of companies say that they have a strategy for transitioning those workers to new roles or sustaining the company when they retire. Lisa and Michael revisit the notion that people should shift their views on working life expectancy so that they’re more in line with current life expectancy, and that companies and individuals alike should consider better ways of identifying and deploying talent.

0:18:53: Michael and Lisa discuss the challenge people face when their identity is wrapped up in a particular discipline or industry or even company. Lisa points out that people should be encouraged to realize that “they’re more than just their job,” and that they should consider four areas of criteria when trying to identify a possible new career path: their needs, passion, talents and desired impact.

0:21:28: Michael and Lisa wrap things up by comparing thoughts on the current landscape. They observe that a shift has already begun; the workforce is aging, and with that comes a large number of prospective role models who can demonstrate that late-career shifts are possible. Lisa notes that we can all learn from each other, and that it’s important to get people talking about this issue.

0:22:52: Michael concludes by sharing links and resources for people who want more information on Lisa’s work.

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