Baby Boomers, Millennials… and the transition conundrum.

Baby Boomers, Millennials… and the transition conundrum.

Mar 21, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters

Bracing for a blended retention/ recruiting strategy in order to secure smooth transitions

By Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor — Hunt Scanlon Media

Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra

The mass migration of baby boomers from the workplace is beginning. While their full departure will take years to set in, the transition is unquestionably underway and it is creating a significant puzzle for every company and those in charge of staffing them to solve.

“The dilemma is twofold,” said Paul Croteau, managing partner of talent management solutions at Legacy Bowes Group.

“First, it is well known that the incoming new generation of leaders, (typically in the ages of 35 to 49), do not have the skills or experience of more senior leaders,” said Mr. Croteau. While this to be expected, recent research conducted by i4cp, a Florida-based research firm, identified that younger generation leaders were lacking skills in five critical leadership areas. These included critical thinking, the ability to create a vision and engage others, the ability to collaborate with other areas of a business and manage change, overall leadership and understanding how different business sectors needed to work together.

“Second, my own professional experience suggests that younger leaders have higher expectations with respect to salary and compensation,” Mr. Croteau said. “They are also more demanding with respect to perks and other benefits such as vacation, vehicles, flexibility and executive education. As well, many young people are impatient, relying too much on their graduate education instead of being willing to engage in a longer apprenticeship type of career model.”

In other words, the latest generation of leaders ‘coming of age’ want to leapfrog up the career ladder and if opportunities are not found in their current employment, they won’t think twice about moving to another company.

Millennials Still In Their Formative Years

The vast majority of Millennials see ongoing skills development as an important part of their future careers – and in that respect, they are light years ahead of previous generations who stepped onto the corporate treadmill for a long, arduous and, frankly, unpleasant jog to the future. Millennials, thank heavens, are different. They see personal development as so important that many say they would pay for it personally and give up their own time to expand themselves by establishing new skills baselines. And, they come hard-wired with innate intellectual curiosity, which allows them to learn in real-time at a faster rate. Contrary to the lazy label, the data pouring in about Millennials actually tells a different story. They work as hard, if not harder, than other generations. But happiness and self-fulfillment – that’s really what matters to them.

So, where does this situation leave current business leaders, especially since it’s well known that a large percentage of the companies they oversee have no succession planning strategies in place?

Disproportionate number of CEOs retiring

A piece to consider is managing communication and the messages that will go along with a CEO’s departure and the arrival of his or her successor. “As soon as that CEO is thinking about leaving, and this is going to become public information, who needs to know first?” Nancy Green, vice president of the Washington, D.C. office at Vetted Solutions asks. “How do you think about how you tell the staff and manage that communication? If it is an association or non-profit, how do you tell the members of the organization? And then, obviously, there’s telling the key leaders.”

Paying attention to communicating about impending change instills confidence and helps minimized uncertainty. “It’s a sense of, ‘Hey we’ve got this; this is something we are planning ahead for; we have a strong strategic plan in place; we have a succession plan in place.’” Ms. Green said. “If it’s a retirement or a very positive transition you can talk about that and get out in front of it.”

Among factors that are vital to a good succession plan: “One of the most critical pieces that needs to be in place is a good strategic plan, that road map for the future, that clear outline of the metrics that go toward what success looks like. That’s No. 1, because if the board and the staff are on the same page about the direction, it does help guide the other pieces pretty effectively.”

No. 2, she said, is having a clear understanding of how the future CEO will be put in place. “What is the search committee going to look like?” Ms. Green pondered. “Who needs to be involved? What are the voices that need to be included in that conversation? And how will the conversation about input take place?”

Why is it important to have a succession plan, and what can happen to a company if it fails to have one? Uncertainty and possible instability is one answer. “At the very least, said Ms. Green, if you’re not prepared it creates an uneasiness and unpredictability that could cause anxiety and disruption.” Enough, she added, to prevent the continuity of the work from happening. “Fear of the unknown, of who is coming in and what might change, can cause people to leave their jobs.” The better approach, she said, is to manage expectations in order to keep baby boomers in place for as long as possible.

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