The Biggest Untapped Resource in Your Organization

What if I told you that you could find all the answers to the problems facing your business inside the four walls of your organization?

Business consultants know this – and it’s the first place they go to figure out how to advise their clients.

It’s also the first place I go to when I first take over a business.

Sadly, it’s the last place most bosses go.

Most managers fail to recognize that their greatest assets are the older, experienced employees in their organization.

These are the employees that have been in the trenches for decades. They have seen managers come and go, and they have observed what works and what doesn’t.

They have strong ideas and opinions about the business, but almost no one asks them for their thoughts.

In a world that celebrates youth, these employees often remain a silent, untapped resource.

When I come into a new business, these are the people I seek out. I ask them three specific questions.

  1. What’s working well here?
  2. What needs to be changed?
  3. If you were in my shoes, what would be the first thing you would do?

I have found that the answers to these questions usually center around two or three critical things that I need to address. Taking action on those few issues helps me build credibility with experienced employees. They see that I listened and took action on their concerns.

Sadly, too many managers think they already have all the answers, so they ignore the most experienced people on their teams. This mistake typically leads to bad decisions and frustrated employees.

Ignoring experienced employees typically leads to bad decisions and frustration. Click To Tweet

I prefer to seek out more seasoned employees for their wisdom and experience.

Mark Twain once said that “Good judgment is the result of experience.”

I would add that good judgment is also the result of listening to your most experienced people.

Good judgment is the result of listening to your most experienced people. Click To Tweet

I recently had Dr. Mike Simpson on the Deep Leadership podcast. At 48 years old, he was still running missions in Afghanistan with U.S. Special Forces. Most of his peers were in their twenties.

Older operators in the special forces are known as Grey Beards, and they looked up to for their wisdom and experience. Younger soldiers know that there is something special about the advice from a Grey Beard.

Bohdi Sanders reminds us that “Old warriors did not get old by accident; they got old by being wise, having the right knowledge, and being tough.”

The question to you is – who are the Grey Beards in your organization?

How can you tap into their wisdom and knowledge?

If you’re are interested in learning how I turned around a manufacturing plant by tapping into the experienced workforce, pick up a copy of my bestselling leadership book, All in the Same Boat: Lead Your Organization Like a Nuclear Submariner.

[Photo by Ahmad Ossayli on Unsplash]

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