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Declining work quality - overstaying usefulness
Old 03-20-2017, 02:14 PM   #1
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Declining work quality - overstaying usefulness

Someone in the "Sunday anxiety" thread made a comment about overstaying your usefulness at w*rk and that got me thinking about something I've noticed with myself lately. Now that I've reached the ripe old age of 58, I seem to make more small mistakes at w*rk. For example, using the person's wrong name in the greeting (Hi Dave instead of Hi Chris) when replying to an email because I was thinking about something else. Plus, it's getting harder for me to remember steps in a new procedure or process so I sometimes forget to do a particular step.

I recall something similar happening to a co-w*rker 3-4 years ago and I believe he was nearing 60 at the time. I remember thinking he might be having some physical / mental issues and hoping that wouldn't happen to me. Now that it appears it is happening, I'm wondering if this is "normal".

Has/did anyone else experience something similar in your own w*rk life as you reached the late 50s / early 60s?

I just take it as yet another sign that it's getting time to hang it up and call it a career.
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Old 03-20-2017, 02:28 PM   #2
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I blanked out on a co-worker's name in the elevator the other day - does that count?
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Old 03-20-2017, 02:35 PM   #3
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All I can say is that I can relate! I am 56, and I am also noticing that I make more mistakes and forget small things more often than even a year ago.
I'm chalking it up to few things:
- burnout; I just don't care anymore. When I started in this position 15 years ago, I was hyper-vigilant on my job performance. I needed the job and needed promotions for more money. Hence, I was super-focused on the details. Now I'm in a delegating position. It's my subordinates' responsibility to remember the minutiae.
- Getting older means worsening short term memory. It's just a fact. I use lists more than I used to. I had a steel trap memory in my youth! This started to concern me (worries about Alzheimer's, even though no family history), so I consulted an old friend in the medical field. She forwarded me a couple self-tests they use in diagnosing the onset of dementia. I passed with flying colors. She just said, "Dude, you're getting older. When you start putting your car keys and wallet in the fridge, then we'll talk."
- The combination of getting older and having more responsibilities and knowledge history about my tasks at work. That's a LOT of information to remember.
- Just plain ol' stress. Getting two kids ready for college. I have a feeling that if I could have a 6 month sabbatical for ME, my mental focus would be better. Plus, just wrapping up the estate of my FIL, who passed in November. It was (gladly) all on me, but has been very stressful and has distracted from my immediate family responsibilities and work.
Anyway, hope this helps. I think it's a natural progression...Others may disagree and I look forward to differing opinions.
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:13 PM   #4
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I don't think a few misrememberings of a name or other detail means that you are over the hill. A younger person may be sharper, but lack the experience and depth of knowledge that you have. I just have a few days to RE, but I'm going because I can afford it and want full control of my time, not because I think I can't do my job anymore.
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I don't think a few misrememberings of a name or other detail means that you are over the hill.
+1

I did not have any similar difficulties at all, before I retired (at age 61). However, I don't think it necessarily means much. Possibly you had something on your mind and just goofed.
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:43 PM   #6
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I saw this some time ago and thought it was a pretty good guide to possible memory issues:

 Age-related changePossible issue
Memory loss that disrupts daily lifeForgetting the occasional nameForgetting important dates and events
Challenges in planning and problem-solvingTrouble occasionally balancing a checkbookTrouble keeping track of monthly bills
Difficulty completing familiar tasksDifficulty recording a TV showDifficulty driving to a familiar place
Confusion with time or placeGetting confused about the day of the week, then remembering laterGetting confused about where you are and how you got there
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationshipsDifficulty seeing due to cataractsDifficulty recognizing your own reflection in a mirror
New problems with words in speaking or in writingHaving a “tip of the tongue” momentHaving trouble joining or following a conversation
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace stepsLosing track of your glassesLosing the ability to retrace your steps to find your glasses
Decreased or poor judgmentMaking the occasional bad choiceMaking large telemarketing buys
Withdrawal from work or social activitiesNeeding a periodic break from family and social obligationsDropping completely out of social groups; giving up hobbies
Changes in mood or personalityExperiencing irritability when a routine is disruptedBecoming easily upset, increasingly confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:07 PM   #7
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I was supposed to be useful?
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:22 PM   #8
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I don't understand the purpose of the table? Do those issues relate to a particular condition?
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:51 PM   #9
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I don't understand the purpose of the table? Do those issues relate to a particular condition?
The first column is the general category of problem.
The second column is an example of a normal age-related change.
The third column is an example of a real potential issue.

I tried to make it clearer by boldfacing some of it.
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:45 PM   #10
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I'm roughly the same age, and there are elements of my job that I'm not all that good at. Though I was probably never all that strong at them. There are others where I'm probably better than I was years ago.

I'm trying to move from detailed project management to more conceptual work in my last few years at this job.
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:50 PM   #11
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Is it possible that your just bored with your job, and these little issues are a result of the boredom, rather than diminishing mental capacity?
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:24 PM   #12
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Yup, just another sign that it's time to stop networking and start not working -
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:39 PM   #13
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My last 2 years of work were spent mentoring my replacement. I did very little work during this time. The boss was keeping a keener eye on my training than my work quality. And my remaining work tasks during my last few years were so repetitive and easy, I could have done them in my sleep. So there was no declining work quality - probably an increase in work quality.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:44 PM   #14
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I avoided the whole problem by retiring at 56.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:31 PM   #15
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I have had a lousy memory my whole life. On the bright side, now I can blame it on my age.
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Old 03-20-2017, 10:00 PM   #16
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Understanding table data is becoming one of my problems...
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Old 03-20-2017, 10:01 PM   #17
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"Difficulty recognizing your own reflection in a mirror"
For a number of years now I have been wondering who in the hell that old man in the mirror is that I see every morning. Does this count? Or has some alien taken over my body?
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:01 PM   #18
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Even though I ERed at 45, 8 years ago, I did notice that in my last few years I was having a little trouble concentrating on tough things after lunch, particularly I the late afternoon. I often had meetings on my one big project (I was working PT, 2 days a week, more on that below) and it was very tough keeping up with the material I was going over with the programmer/analysts in another department.


One possible, if not likely reason I had this increasing trouble could be directly attributed to my working PT. On the 5 days I wasn't working, I often took a nap in the late afternoon. So, unlike when I worked FT and took my PM nap only 2 days a week, my body had probably become conditioned to that coveted afternoon siesta so being forced to stay awake took its mental toll on me.


As for overstaying my usefulness, in the waning years of my long career, there was a gradual transition from using my programs written on mainframe computer systems in the 1990s and early 2000s to using newer PC-based programs designed by others to accomplish many of those same tasks. While my mainframe programming skills were still very useful to my division, I could see the writing on the wall that they were being phased out over time. My "big fish in the small pond" status was on the decline.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:56 PM   #19
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Someone near the end mentioned to me that they thought I'd begun to lose my edge. That may be true, but it's just as likely that an event with a backstabbing CFO (not my boss) pushed me beyond caring much anymore since I knew I was getting out of Dodge in 8-9 months anyway. The issue: I needed to change one of my senior managers who couldn't cut it. My boss told me to hang on a bit longer and mentor her some more (after I'd already given it two years from the time I'd inherited her business region, which was already on life support). A few months later, this CFO got drunk, wanted to get into her pants, and told her that I'd tried to fire her but that he saved her from my hatchet. Try working with a subordinate who has been told that...I was livid. And, I carefully protected my employees from him during all future contacts, and nearly came to blows with him when he verbally attacked one of my finance people after that. But, otoh, contrary to my usual custom, any contact with him in the future was perfunctory with no more interaction than absolutely required. But back to the question, yes, I probably lost my edge near the end, not because of declining talent, but because my "fire in the belly" had been extinguished by a drunken idiot.
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Old 03-21-2017, 02:13 AM   #20
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We have this problem at my current employer. There are about five washed up dinosaurs that do nothing but tell old war stories from the Carter administration and in general treat the office as it's just a coffee shop to hang out at all day. One guy is a 82 and can barely type on a keyboard. He is so past his sell by date that even his "wise counsel and industry experience" is useless. He is pretty famous because of work decades ago and no one in senior management wants to let him go. I feel kind of bad for these guys because it's clear that they really have nothing else to do and will be in the office until they die.
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