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How the loss of seniority has robbed mentorship and coaching in the industry

– By Karthik Tirupathi, CEO Napier Healthcare Solutions

As young blood joins the industry, they need to be trained and shown the ropes. Experienced Seniors in turn get status, recognition, and influence as they have served for a longer period. In addition, it brings continuation and mentorship necessary for the industry. With the wave of meritocracy in the past decade, how does a loss of senior professionals impact the industry? Let us find out.

In recent times, companies are looking beyond purely work experience to find individuals that can contribute creativity; millennials could very well fit the bill here. While professionals with many years of work experience tend to be more mature and stable, they may also be rigid or conservative in certain ways. This is because they have “seen” certain solutions working in the past and do not want to risk outcomes by trying something new.

The problem at hand is the focus on merit-based promotions taking over the concept of “time-bound” promotions, leading to inexperience at the highest levels. How does the lack of seniority rob an industry?

Mentoring in the workplace

To start with, who is a mentor? A mentor is a person that helps others less experienced grow their skills, make better decisions, and gain new perspectives on their life and career. Mentors will leverage their experience to give mentees guidance on-demand, enabling them to advance in their careers. Such guidance can be invaluable to a mentee, as it usually involves real world scenarios that no amount of external coaching or mentorship can replicate. Sometimes these conversations end up providing coaching on personal life situations as well like managing growing up children, dealing with difficulty in the family etc.

Seniority Vs Performance

Seniority can be defined as the duration a person has been with an organization or in the industry, the prior experience, and the natural authority (influence) that accompanies such status. On the other hand, performance is defined as how successfully a person has accomplished goals and tasks within a company. Performance is not a singular event, but a track record of producing results in the current role.

It has become fairly normal to see a young person leading people who are older than them. As much as it is healthy to have a mix of experience and young blood in an industry, too much of either could lead to chaos.

Time-bound promotions are simple — promoting people based on seniority, honouring an employee’s experience at the company. On the other hand, merit-based promotions reward talent and performance irrespective of age or experience.

Focussing purely on merit-based promotions sometimes rob the company of valuable experience, leading to loss of mentorship for youngsters. Despite being creative and full of ideas, they still need guidance and direction to reach the top of the corporate ladder. Not honouring seniority in the industry results in a lack of proper coaching for the younger generation.

Which is better?

Balance is the key. Promoting a less experienced employee who possesses a greater flair for innovation or creativity is as important as respecting seniority that brings maturity and experience to the table. Most top companies are driven by a balance between the two. We must remember that Experience does not always equal Expertise.

A senior employee is a reservoir of knowledge and experience gained through their long years in the organization. Such experience comes in handy when mentoring the younger group of employees. In modern Asian societies, someone older is instantly accorded respect and the assumption is made that they are wiser than others. We call it the Asian way of doing things.

Furthermore, most leadership roles require an extent of seniority. For example, a HR Director tends to make quality decisions mixing it with some coaching and mentorship. Hence, while seniority ensures quality guidance and mentorship, it still requires someone who has a proven track record of success.

Given the ageing demographic, especially in Singapore and few other Asian countries, the time has come for us to recognise this need and create a section of workforce that provide mentorship and coaching. Singapore is the Asia Pacific hub for many global organisations and this could be one way in which our local workforce can add greater value to regional operations.

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Headquartered in Singapore, Napier Healthcare is leading provider globally for innovative, technology-enabled solutions for hospitals, long term care providers, nursing homes, health insurance and other industries with healthcare touchpoints.

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