CONSULTATION : Managing Older Workers


I have senior manager who is in his 60s. He has held his management role for about 15 years and has carried the role out well in the past. However, there is increasing evidence that he is now not performing and is becoming barrier to the growth of our company. I am finding it very difficult to handle as he seems to be unaware of the issues and I think it is his ageing process that is causing the issues. What can I do?

The Human Rights Act makes it illegal for anyone to be discriminated against due to age. This means that an employment agreement cannot specify retirement age for an employee, except in special circumstances.
While overall it is good for society that we are not allowed to dictate that person is too old for their job, it does present management challenge – as the only way to approach situation such as yours is through effective performance management.
You have given range of examples of this manager’s behaviour that you feel are causing problems. He has low computer skills and hardly ever sends emails, preferring fax and mail. You advise he doesn’t appear to be up to the mark with issues he is responsible for and appears to delegate most things to other people. You also say he tends to focus more on the administrative side of his management role and fails to contribute adequately at the strategic level or in management meetings. Finally, you advise that the organisation has changed over the years, as have the requirements of this manager’s role, but that he has not recognised this and hasn’t changed himself.
Forgetting the age issue, all of these points are relevant at performance level for anyone no matter what their age. I recommend you make sure that this manager has well defined and relevant job description and that you then discuss it with him to make sure he understands fully what is required. Then meet with him regularly to coach him on what is working well and what is not working so well compared with the job description. This will be drain on your time but is fair to the employee and will start to give him the performance feedback he needs. If, after you have done this for reasonable period of time, there is no change, then you will be in position to commence dismissal process.



I am partner in small consulting medical practice. I have been reading about the Charities Commission and am thinking of putting in an application for us to be recognised as charity as there are clear tax advantages. Would this be feasible?

The Charities Commission was established in 2005 to establish and maintain registration and monitoring system for charitable organisations and to provide support and education to the charitable sector on good governance and management.
The overall aim is to promote public trust in the charitable sector within New Zealand. Changes to the Income Tax Act 2004 and Estate and Gift Duties Act 1968 mean that only charities registered with the Commission will be eligible for tax exemptions. These changes take effect from 1 July 2008 and so eligible organisations need to register with the Charities Commission by that date to maintain their tax exemption status.
The key question for your organisation is: Is it actually charity? The Commission uses well established common law test for charitable purposes.
The rules of the organisation must clearly state that its purposes are for one or more of the following: the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, and/or any other matters that are beneficial to the community. The charity’s objective must also be of benefit to the public.
There are two useful questions you can ask yourself to see if your organisation could register. First, is the organisation established and maintained for charitable purposes? That is, is your practice in place to relieve poverty, or to advance education or religion? From your letter describing your organisation it doesn’t appear to fit these criteria. However, I imagine you could argue that the practice is in place to benefit the public.
So, secondly, ask yourself: Is the practice in place for the private profit of any individual or group? Again from your description of your consulting practice the partners own the profits generated by the business and so again it would appear not to match the Commission’s criteria. The Charities Commission has an excellent website where you can read further information and apply for registration if you decide to go ahead – www.charitiescommission.org.nz.

Kevin Gaunt, FNZIM, FAIM, is CEO of NZIM Auckland and has been senior executive with, and consultant to, some of New Zealand’s largest companies.

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