Managers realize highest professional vitality in 50s

Jul 16, 2012

Managers demonstrate their highest levels of professional vitality in their 50s, reveals a new study conducted at the University of Haifa, Israel, which examined the functionality of high-tech, engineering, and infrastructure executives. "The advantages and disadvantages of taking on mature employees have been widely debated over the past few years. This new study now shows that in terms of vitality, advancing age plays a significant role," note Dr. Shmuel Grimland, Prof. Yehuda Baruch, and Prof. Eran Vigoda-Gadot, who conducted the study.

A manager's professional vitality is defined as the ability to carry out tasks with passion, vigor, and competence, and to gain satisfaction from his or her . The new study, which is based on Dr. Grimland's doctoral dissertation (supervised by Prof. Vigoda-Gadot of the University of 's School of Political Sciences and Prof. Yehuda Baruch of Rouen ), set out to examine which factors are related to professional vitality and whether that vitality interrelates with a manager's career. Participating in the study were 545 high-tech, engineering, and infrastructure from the public and the private sectors. They represented the full management spectrum – from project managers to senior company managers.

The results show that the more vitality the managers demonstrate, the more ability they have to draw upon personal resources to succeed in their work, and commitment to their work is enhanced. Professional vitality was also positively linked to the manager's position in the company's organizational hierarchy: the more vitality the manager demonstrates, the higher his organizational status. Vitality was also found to be positively linked to career and life satisfaction. Moreover, the higher the level of vitality, the less a manager considers leaving his or her place of work.

The researchers also examined whether age is linked to vitality – and found that there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between the two factors. The older the manager, the higher his or her professional vitality, reaching a peak at 50-59 and 57 being the highest point in this sample group. The manager's vitality then begins to drop.

"Our study shows that providing tools for workers to improve their professional vitality will also improve their satisfaction and will help cultivate resourceful and innovative workers. This indicates that an organization should make it a priority to provide such tools. Workers' vitality 'fuels' the success of the organization, and the fact that professional vitality is preserved and actually rises well into one's 50s indicates that organizations investing in this aspect of the workplace will be able to benefit from productive workers for many years," the researchers concluded.

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