Do Older Techs Hate Change?
If there’s anything a lifetime of change teaches us, it’s that change never matches the hype. At some point in your career you’ve heard and seen it all: staffing ideas, alphabet soup, meeting gimmicks, efficiency notions. Like hornets, buzzwords are best left undisturbed, because after a while we’re allergic to their sting.
Or are we?
According to an article in Scientific American, openness to new experiences peaks during one’s 20s and declines thereafter (it increases in some people after age 60, so relax -- there’s hope). Since this implies less resistance to change, it seems to reinforce the stereotype (especially at computer keyboards) of old dogs and new tricks.
Much of this resistance is toward computers and information technology. Millennials (if you have any in your lab) likely use smart phones, smart watches, and Google as a verb. Your older techs may have a flip phone that they rarely use, have a wind-up Timex that has worked for thirty years, and read books. They won’t or can’t change. So I hear.
But according to a 2010 study, age is negatively related to resistance to change. Author and research scientist Jennifer Deal argues that generation related stereotypes are wrong; everyone hates change. Resistance to change has to do with what a person has to gain or lose. The stereotype may be self-fulfilling; one article on Medscape points out that younger nurses view older nurses as both resistant to change and using more sick time. Neither is true.
What all this suggests to me is that younger workers have less to lose by adapting ideas that are new (to them). It’s one way to compete in a workplace where experience (and age) teaches connections between ideas and data, too. But I’ve always found people agreeable to change when it means less work, fewer errors, or better patient care. The trick is finding change that really does that, and older techs are often skeptical or cynical, depending on your perspective.
So, do older techs hate change? What do you think?
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