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Middle and late career issues


The middle career year has two major career/life tasks

Confronting the midlife transition

Remaining productive

Confronting midlife transition:

It involves reappraising ones accomplishment relative to ambitious and dreams and reexamining
the importance of work in ones life. Midlife employees have learnt to deal with stress produced
by midlife transition.
Midlife transition can be triggered by a number of experiences:

Fear of lost youth

Missed opportunity
Awareness of aging and morality
Failure to accomplish significant dreams
Inability to achieve an acceptable balance between work life commitment

Technical and managerial obsolescence are common among mid career employees. In addition,
many highly successful and mobile employees experience feeling of personal failure at midlife,
reflecting the guilt and regret over having scarified family relationship and other affiliation in the
ambitious pursuit of career success. Midlife crisi is universally experienced.

Remaining productive: (growth, maintenance and strategies)

Two midcareer experiences, Plateauing and obsolescence, can effect midcareer productivity and
trigger feelings of stress.
Career plateau According to Byars & Rue, 2006 Career plateau is;
The point in a career where the likelihood of additional hierarchical
promotion is very low.
Why is plateauing such a universal experience?

Organizations provide fewer and fewer positions at higher levels of the hierarchy.
There is competition for these few (higher) positions
Organization growing slowly, not growing at all
Virtually eliminating the mandatory retirements

Change in technology may closed certain career paths or open new paths for which
employees are not prepared
Employees more likely plateau because they though its more valuable in their present
position, lack technical and managerial skill to advance further

Career plateau can be classified as position plateau and contribution plateau. Position plateau
occurs when there is limited or no upward movement within the organization possibly due to
lack of opportunities within the organization. On the other hand, contribution plateau occurs
when there is stagnation in one's personal development and growth. Here, there is no further
development of one's skills and abilities. It is believed that position plateau can happen to every
employee and does not necessarily mean absence of skills.
On the other hand, contribution plateau happen to specific individuals only and is incompetent
due to lack of skills. An employee can be personally plateaued or organizationally plateaued.
Plateauing becomes dysfunctional when the employee feels stuck in a job that offers no potential
for personal growth
Plateaued employees may become angry, frustrated, bored, stagnant, less involved and motivated
in their work. Ultimately effect on performance and cause a decline in the performance in the
There are four principal career categories:

Learners. Individuals in an organization who have a high potential for

advancement but are performing below standard (e.g., a new trainee).

Individuals in an organization who are presently doing
outstanding work and have a high potential for continued

Solid citizens.
Individuals in an organization whose present
performance is satisfactory but whose chance for future advancement
is small.

Deadwood. Individuals in an organization whose present performance

has fallen to an unsatisfactory level and who have little potential for

Naturally, organizations would like to have all stars and solid citizens.
The challenge, however, is to transform the learners into stars or solid

citizens and keep the current stars and solid citizens from slipping into the
deadwood category. Furthermore, there is a tendency to overlook solid
citizens. The learners, stars, and deadwood usually get most of the attention
in terms of development programs and stimulating assignments. Neglect of
the solid citizens may result in their slipping into the deadwood category.


Obsolescence a reduction in an employees competence resulting

from a lack of knowledge of new work processes, techniques, and
technologies that have developed since the employee completed her

Not just a concern of technical and professional occupations

o all employees are at risk

Obsolescence needs to be avoided if companies are trying to become

learning organizations

Additional Steps to Avoid Obsolescence

Provide employees with the opportunity to exchange information

and ideas

Give employees challenging job assignments early in their careers

Provide job assignments that challenge employees and require

them to stretch their skills

Provide rewards

Allow employees to:






attend professional conferences

subscribe to professional journals and magazines

enroll in university, technical school, or community

college courses at low or no cost

Encourage employees to interact in person or electronically to

discuss problems and new ideas

Midcareer change:
Career change has been viewed as movement into a different occupation
that is not a part of a typical career path. Career routine is a cycle of
common, ongoing behavior that develops through earlier experiences of
psychological success.
Reasons to make career changes:
Individual factors:
Individual factors include dissatisfied with current occupation, Need for greater achievement &
contribution, ones age, health, interest, values and alteration in family relationships.
Environmental factors:
Environmental factors includes loss of ones job, change in technology, economies forces,
corporate restructuring/ downsizing, changes in reward system, increase job demands, and other
Healthy reasons for changing careers during midlife years:

Reaching a career plateau

Becoming obsolescent
Becoming bored
Feeling underused
being in a position for which one is under qualified
Recognizing that the original occupational choice was inappropriate

Wrong reasons:

Dissatisfied with oneself as a person

Anxiety over feeling of morality
Over evaluation of ones own competence and worth
Intense competition for status with friends

Obstacles to career change:

Financial (salary cut, loss of income in a new business)

Time related (time required to train for a different business)
Psychological (uncertainty and insecurity about becoming competent in different field)



Help employees to understand mid career experiences

Top official, must first appreciate the issue facing midcareer employees
Avoid overreacting to employees
Develop useful programs
Develop interpersonal relationship with those party who is in midcareer
Educate organizational member in midcareer through seminar, workshop, supports group.

When employees understand that they are experiencing natural then they can deal it more effectively. If
they are fail to understand this situation then doubt and frustration my produce.

Provide expended and flexible mobility opportunity:

Because of few opportunity of promotion during midcareer, job rotation and job enlargement also lateral
moves can be used to keep plateaued employees stimulated, challenged and motivated. Downward
mobility can be effective when new, lower position demand more skills, talents those currently employee
doesnt have.

Utilization of current job:

Midcareer employee may improve the current job by building in more variety, challenge and
responsibility. Take participation in task forces, project teams. One factor that improves the work
experience of solid citizen is the presence of accurate job duties and performance objectives.

Encourage and teach mentoring skills:

Midcareer employees have broader experience and particularly fit as a mentor younger colleague. Special
lecture and group discussion on midcareer issue can be developed to accomplish this also midcareer
employees need training on how to coach, counsel and provide feedback.

Training and continuing education:

Organization must support and endorse continuing education, participation in such activities is
often discouraged and unrewarded by individual supervisors. One significant function of
continuing education is preparing midcareer employees who wish to engage in a career change.
Job rotation and continual job challenge are the most effective deterrents to obsolescence.
Organization should encourage their surplus mangers to take early retirement.
Broaden the reward system:
Instead of focusing on promotion and compensation as an incentive for effective performance,
alternative reward should be considered. Organization should also maintain the effectiveness of
employees experiencing midcareer plateaus.



Self assessment is critical in midcareer. Specifically, individuals should conduct periodic self
assessments and reappraisals to determine whether their interest, values, and skills are in line ith
their established goals and plans.
Reflection of midcareer change:

Impact of the change on their family

Risk of severing relationships with friends and colleague in current organization
Possibility of reduced status in community
Time require to build reputation in a new field
Possibility of experiencing psychological depression for some time.

Dealing with job loss:

Companies that lay off employees can experience lowered job commitment, distrust of
management, and difficulties recruiting new employees. Job loss causes stress and disrupts the
personal lives of laid-off employees.
In the midlife job loss may create the self doubt, and arise some questions related to ones
competences, also faces some financial and marriage strains.
Reasons of termination:

Poor job performance

Corporate wide downsizing
Unfavorable financial and economically conditions faced by company
Violation of company policy
Some unethical behavior

Outcomes of job loss:

Job ones loss becomes the causes of reduce the happiness, self esteem, increase depression,
anxiety, death rates, suicide, mental and psychological illness.
Responses towards job loss:

Individual has experience four types of initial responses to loss of the job.
Sense of shock and disbelief (individual assume job loss wont happen to them)
Anger at the company and its management
Sense of relief (uncertainty and stress of potential termination is finally lifted)
Sign of escapism (display little or no emotions)

To minimize the negative consequences of the job ones loss organization should follow some
suggestions offered by Harold Kaufman like:

Treat the employees with dignity and respect

Choose private place for dismissal
Time the dismissal to maximize the degree of emotional support the employee can
receive from family and friends
Dont end the dismissal session prematurely

The primary tasks of the late career are to remaining productive, and to prepare for effective

Remaining productivity is important to the late career employee. There are several obstacles to
remaining productivity during the late career like rapid change in technology and older worker
has limited education and skills. Effect of midlife career plateaued is negative on the
performance of late career employees.
To prevent the obstacles to remaining productivity during the late career do some things like;

Older workers should receive the training they need to avoid skill obsolescence and to
be prepared to use new technology
Older employees need resources and referral help that addresses long-term care and
elder care
Flexibility in scheduling to allow for care of sick spouses, return to school, travel, or
reduced work hours
Assessment and counseling to help older workers
recycle to new jobs or careers, or
Transition to less secure positions whose responsibilities are not as clearly outlined
Companies need to ensure that employees do not hold inappropriate stereotypes about
older employees

Preparation for retirement:

Because of part time positions and change in attitude it is difficult to determine actually age of
retirement. Retirees can be differentiated from non retirees based on the following:

Retirees tend be older

Age is more than 50 years
Less of their time working for pay

Attitude toward work:

Leave the work role may be leaving behind a part of oneself


Work provide the feeling of usefulness and purposeful

Work provide the opportunity to fulfill basic needs for affiliation, achievement, power
and prestige
Work also provide financial reward

Preference towards or against retirement vary from person to person on the bases of health,
work, and personality. Government and organization polices, employee background, attitudes
and social circumstances affect the decision to retire.


Performance standard and feedback:
Clear standards of effective performance should be developed and also communicate the old
employees. In case of poor productivity and performance should be stated in clear behavioral
term about the consequences of ineffective performance and option to improve the performance.
Education and job restriction:
Ongoing learning opportunities, through integrating to stimulating, responsible job assignment
and continuing education can play a major role in the revitalization of the late career employee.
Organization should develop a model for combating the obsolescence

Training need assessment

Training for upgrading the skills
Evaluate and review the training effectiveness
Long range planning to identify future retraining needs.

Development of retirement planning program:

Retirement planning program should be focus on both intrinsic and extrinsic aspect of
Program should be run in two way communication and provide opportunity for
Program should begin at least 5 years prior to anticipate retirement to allow adequate
time to address all issue
Previously retire person can be use as a information resources
Spouse participation in retirement planning program can be beneficial and should be
Special retirement plan should be offer for strongly committed employees

Establishment of flexible work patterns:

Many organizations prefer that the more competent adaptable late career employees continue
working beyond normal retirement age and that others take early retirement. A system of
flexible work patterns may enable both of these aims to be met. Organization encourage the less
talented to take early retirement. To avoid costly litigation, companies need to make sure that
their early retirement programs contain the following features:
The program is part of the employee benefit plan
The company can justify age-related distinctions for eligibility for early
Employees are allowed to voluntarily choose early retirement


Pre retirees are encouraged to gather relevant information about their:

Psychological aspects of retirement

Housing (i.e., transportation, costs, proximity to medical care)
Financial planning, insurance, and investments
Health care plans
Estate planning
The collection of benefits from company plans and Social Security