The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “My older workers lack drive...”

I’m in my mid-thirties and run a successful company. I have a very strong drive to succeed and am getting frustrated at the lack of drive shown by older members of the workforce. I need their skills to help the company grow. What do I do? Michael

What a great opportunity you have here! It’s frustrating when employees do not replicate your drive and energy and although you’ve identified age as the issue, it’s not restricted to age. I’ve known some very entrepreneurial 72 year olds and a few moribund 23 year olds. No, the issue here is one of motivation.

What drives you will not hold true for others. We don’t have space to consider every motivational driver but a basic one for your “problem” group could well be a sense of belonging. Concepts such as valued, involved, invested in all tie into this.

You say their skills play an integral part in business growth. Do they know that - and believe it? Have you fully engaged them in your plans so they can play their part and have joint ownership of its success? The most successful companies whole heartedly do this so does your leadership and managerial style allow for this type of conversation?

Now for that great opportunity. You can use the steps you take to resolve this group’s “problem” to simultaneously increase everyone’s motivation, thus vastly improving your growth prospects. Discuss with your entire workforce your plans for the company’s and their future, adjusting your leadership style if needed. Actively seek their input. Consciously involve them in assessing any ideas and implementing the best ones. By satisfying the need to belong you’ll soon see increased commitment. Then you can start identifying individual motivators to fine tune your strategy to further increase growth.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company.  Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach.  If you have a problem then contact her at

Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.