Make Yourself Into An MVP

How do you create value in the workplace? For the young guns it is relatively easy, they are energetic, full of bright ideas, tech savvy and running. The greater challenge is for those in 40+ age group that have been in their roles for a number of years.

In reality, the health sector and the non profit sector needs to hang onto every experienced, mature employee they have as there is simply insufficient numbers of young people coming into the system and the situation will become much worse as the supply of labour tightens up over the next ten years. The issue for older workers is to be seen as being valuable to an employer, to be seen as being able to offer as much as the fast-moving, young guns.

The greatest asset an older employee has is experience. You cannot buy experience. With experience comes wisdom. There isn’t a 25 year old anywhere in the world with the wisdom and insights available to someone aged 50 or more.

The key is to utilise your greatest strength; that being your experience, knowledge and wisdom. Young people need development (we used to call it training); older, experienced workers make great trainers (personal developers!!). The key is to provide development in a way that resonates with the younger person. Which means, don’t provide development as it was provided to you some thirty years ago. You need to learn about and understand how it is the young guns learn best. Go ask them. Don’t for one moment assume you know the answer to this.

Upskill, upskill, upskill. How many times have you heard that said? You will continue to hear it said till they day you retire and beyond. Gone are the days when all you needed to know was how to turn on the desktop and use a word processing program or spreadsheet. The new technology is referred to as Web 2.0 and includes the internet, social networking, and online collaboration tools. These are the tools of the future. If you don’t want to be a part of the future, that’s fine. Just don’t complain when you are sidelined. You need to learn how to use these tools.

Not only do these tools provide the opportunity to communicate and share with a widely dispersed audience, they are also a rich source of information, ideas and trends. This information is worth gold to you and your employer. Learn to mine the online world.

John Chambers, CEO, Cisco stated in a recent interview, plumbing is an honourable profession. Learn to be a plumber and plumb the online world.

Become a leader of people. That doesn’t mean being the boss – though you can if you want. Leadership is about helping other people achieve what they want to achieve. Good leaders are good coaches – they develop others. Leadership is in each of us. Leadership is not something you achieve by making a statement that says, I’m going to be a leader. Leadership is something you practice through the manner in which you behave and demonstrate your beliefs, values and guiding principles. Good leaders work hard to make the workplace an enjoyable place to be. Good managers find ways to hang onto their best leaders. Why? It makes them look good. If you don’t have a good manager then it’s time to find one and go work for them – NOW.

Jackie (a pseudonym) spent time working for a very small business operator. During her time there Jackie was encouraged to develop a broad range of skills in using a variety of software applications, managing website content, customer interaction and event management, to name a few. This is fairly typical in a small business where everyone needs to be able to turn their hand to anything. After a period of time Jackie was offered work by a larger organisation. Why, because they became aware of her work and versatility? When Jackie moved to her new employer, instead of just doing her work according to her job description she made her employer aware of her experience and skills. Now Jackie is involved in a wide variety of work with increasing responsibilities.

How long do you think Jackie will have a job for? For as long as she wants, if not with her current employer, then certainly with another. Jackie had a choice. She chose to extend herself, to be a continuous learner, to add value, to be a part of a team and to take on greater responsibility. Pretty damned hard to make that sort of person redundant. Are you that sort of person?

How well do you know and understand the emerging environment for your industry sector? How well do you know and understand the internal relationships in your organisation? If you said not very well then you are no different to most other employees. Developing this understanding will give you a significant advantage. The opportunities of the future will come from places where others are not looking. The person able to link together the past and the present to create the future will be the person that comes up with new ideas. That makes you a ‘VVP’ – a very valuable person. This is something the young ones cannot do. They don’t have the experiences, the knowledge, the insight and they think of now – to go one step ahead you need to being thinking about what tomorrow will look like and how you can make the world a better place. Which, after all, is why you became involved in the non profit sector in the first place. Do you remember those heady days when you were young and brash and ambitious?

This management tip has been brought to you compliments of John Coxon & Associates. We work with management teams and managers in the healthcare, aged care and the not-for-profit sector in Australia and New Zealand. Telephone Australia (03)5561 2228 or NZ (0210) 541464. Email or go to our website at or Please feel free to pass this information onto anyone you feel may benefit.


About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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2 Responses to Make Yourself Into An MVP

  1. Well laid out, John.

    Contrary to conventional wisdom–or conventional fear-mongering–I’m *not* seeing older employees tossed out the door by my corporate clients. Those employees are, in fact, valued for the experience and continuity that you mention.

    The key, however, is willingness to learn new technologies (this seems to be quite easy and interesting for most) and new ways of operating (more difficult and requiring more commitment to changing years of habits).

    • John Coxon says:

      Hi Steve
      thanks for your comment, I enjoy reading your blog also. I believe many employers have begun to realise that they need to utilise the collective knowledge of mature workers; at the same time I believe those older workers remaining in the workplace are those most likely to be willing to look at different ways of doing things.

      I would like to see employers ‘buddy’ up young, incoming employees with mature, established employees and create an environment where they learn from each other and then share their learning. I believe in this way we would experience a greater understanding at an earlier stage. I also believe the fusion between new ideas and experience would produce some very creative outcomes.

      John C

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