Age Concern. The value of diverse teams to improve sales performance

Tuesday 19 April 2016

In many developed countries around the world the ageing population is resulting in a decreasing talent pool for many employers. In the UK for example, there are already 9.4 million people over 50 in employment, accounting for over 30% of the workforce (CIPD, 2015).

So how are employers going to manage recruitment and retention for their businesses to ensure that they retain competitive advantage?

In the recent CIPD report, “Avoiding the Demographic Crunch: Labour Supply and the ageing workforce”, they highlighted a number of ways for organisations to manage and reduce the issues triggered by population change:-

So what does this mean in practise – and how can organisations harness the potential of diverse teams?

The value of diverse teams in the retail sector to improve sales performance

Companies such as B&Q have certainly led the way in the retail sector. In 2015, B&Q won the UK Best 50+ employer award yet again, with John Lewis scooping the Silver Award and Marks and Spencer achieving Bronze. 

So what are the benefits to retailers of diverse teams? Just consider the make up of a typical rugby team. No rugby team would have 15 scrum halves on the pitch. Naturally, a range of skills and experience would be selected for each match to ensure the best performance possible.

Likewise in the workplace – having a range of experience and expertise is likely to result in a better outcome.  Over the years, I have encountered many reasons to highlight the value of diverse sales and customer services teams – here are my top six:-

  1. Youthful maturity
    People say, with age comes experience.  When was the last time you or your team were presented with a task that you’d not done before? It never ceases to amaze me the number of teams when faced with this type of scenario which just dive in and try and tackle the task without even asking the question “Has anyone done this before?”. Drawing on the experience of a mature member of the team can help those younger members to learn, fine-tune and apply their valuable experience to the new task at hand.
  2. Diversity matters
    Age, gender, culture, race, values can all provide a different perspective and can play an important role in teams. Focus on the positive skill sets of each individual within your team - you may be surprised by what value they can bring to the table.
  3. Old dog new tricks?
    Many people over 50 might decide to change careers after many years in a particular role. These people are certainly not starting from scratch as they bring to the table many years of skills, experiences and knowledge.
  4. You’ve got a point
    Utilising team members with the relevant capabilities is key. Frontline managers should be trained to recognise the different skill sets within a team and to encourage colleagues with a particular experience to take the lead on some tasks. Recognise their ability to do the task and praise if appropriate when completed. You’ll have a team that is successful, who trust their colleagues and over time will build their own capability.
  5. The young guns
    Millennials are firmly in the workplace, challenging the traditional methods or solutions – many of them might be unconsciously incompetent. However, their enthusiasm should be nurtured and a good manager will “stretch” them through 1:2:1 coaching and giving more responsibility to them. Personally, the ones I’ve had the pleasure to work with have often surprised me with their energy to complete a task and to a very high standard.
  6. Don’t lose it, use it
    Overall having a diverse team can add real value to you, the team, the individuals and more importantly the customer experience. Leverage their skills, personalities and capabilities when needed and recognise the value they bring to the performance of the team in achieving tasks or results. Having proactive team members is great, yet don’t forget to encourage the less confident members of the team, as everyone has an important role to play.

I would be very interested to hear how you manage diversity in your teams to improve sales and customer service performance. And if you would like to discuss how to improve the effectiveness of your customer service and sales training, please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

Avoiding the demographic crunch: labour supply and the ageing workforce

Given the chance older workers can fill the gap

Best 50+ Awards

This post was written by

Mark BW McDermott

Account Director