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Comment: Write off older staff at your peril

Experienced staff can alert you to potential traps before you fall in

Bob Young Fleet 2014Expanding any business can be both exciting and daunting, especially when it comes to getting the right people in the right jobs. As a business that is currently upping our people power for expansion, we know only too well the importance of recruitment.

Recently I got together with a few industry colleagues and it was quickly decided we were the oldest people we knew in this market. This may seem rather sad to some. However, among our group there was a wealth of experience: those who had been there, done it and collected quite a few industry-related T-shirts.

Among the calls for new blood to be brought into our market, we must acknowledge the importance of those who have been around the block.

Take our management team, for example, which has a large number of years on the clock. The ‘corporate memory’ each member of that team brings with them is invaluable. We would not exist without it. What saddens me is when that corporate memory is lost, via either retirement or a perception that these types of individual should somehow be put out to pasture.

Getting rid of this corporate memory can have devastating results for a firm and an industry, especially if such staff are replaced by less experienced individuals unaware of how ‘innovative’ ideas can suddenly go wrong. You need only look at the pre-credit crunch market to see what can happen.

So, while it is important to bring in graduates with their ambition and energy, we are also keen to hold on to those who may be a little longer in the tooth.

Radical approach

I read lately of the system in place at The Spectator for recruiting interns. They operate a ‘no CV’ approach and simply give tasks to those who want to apply. It seems a sound way of recruiting based on talent and skill, and recently resulted in a 48-year-old mother of three bagging one of the positions.

So, while it is important to develop your firm’s next generation, this should not necessarily preclude the older generation. There is much to be said for having access to experienced individuals, many of whom can alert you to potential traps before you fall into them.

Surround yourself with good people and you have a much better chance of developing a very good business. One final word of caution: always check to see if someone has years of experience or one year repeated many times.

Bob Young is chief executive officer of Fleet Mortgages

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