Challenge Your Thinking

The Impact of Generational Change!

Are your managers up to the Leadership Challenge?

As a business owner or leader of a Fortune 500 company, chances are you've been living under a rock if you haven't heard the drum beat of the Generation Gap. How loud you hear it appears more related to which side of the debate you're on. In this corner in the black trunks, we have the leaders who believe that the X and Y generations will have to adapt to the existing Industry and cultural norms. And, in the other corner wearing blue trunks, we have those who believe that the profile and cultural expectations of the next two generations will require significant change by business in order to, attract, hire and retain the talent needed to compete into the future. I don't know about you, but I'm betting on the blue trunks...

The Gap we're referring to looks like this:

  • 56% of all current national leaders are Baby Boomers
  • 77.5 Million People, according to the AARP, will be vacating the work force in the next five years
  • There are 46 million people coming in behind them as potential replacements
  • In the U.S. alone, there is expected to be a shortfall of 10 million workers by the year 2010

In his book, grown up digital, Don Tapscott makes the case that we are on the brink of a major war for talent, as many companies that rely on knowledge workers already know. Twenty years ago when college grads poured into the workforce, companies had their pick of the best and brightest. Employers had the power to choose; employees were grateful to get a job and did what they could to keep it, and the last thing on their mind would be to suggest radical new ways of working and managing a company. But in next 10 years, as baby boomers retire, there won't be enough young people to fill the management spots vacated.

This time it is the employee's turn, especially the best and the brightest of them. They are poised to enjoy the role of being choosy about who they work for. It sets up a classic war for talent that is already underway in some sectors.

According to Tapscott, Deloitte one of the world's largest accounting firms, hires about 10,000 people a year in the U.S. alone. Deloitte's CEO is quoted as saying, "Many companies come to the conclusion that the only real limitation on their growth is their ability to attract, and retain high?quality talent". So who are the leaders within your organization who are prepared to manage the merging minds of the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y?

According to Peter Drucker, "The true test of an organization's skill at creating leaders lies not in its ability to create CEO "geniuses or supermen." Rather, it lies in the organization's ability to consistently and systematically develop strong managers at all levels of the hierarchy. An organization that has a strong senior management team but lacks bench strength will find itself in trouble sooner rather than later". Unfortunately, many organizations find themselves in the shadow of this quote because the position of first line manager and supervisor has often been taken for granted.

The typical new manager has never had any formal training, yet is expected to immediately assume the responsibilities of leadership. The consequences are reflected in a lack of confidence to provide meaningful feedback or recognition, ability to set clear direction and goals that motivate and challenge employees. It should be no surprise that employee surveys indicate a general lack of trust in management. In large part, organizations have forgotten that these positions represent the main link between the organization's goals and the people who must perform daily to execute on behalf of the organization and its customers.

Norm Gauthier is the managing partner of Heritage Hill Partners, a business coaching & consulting company dedicated to improving performance and bottom line results. norman.gauthier@heritagehillpartners.com

I have known Norm Gauthier for some time now. For the past several years, I have had the opportunity to interact with a number of Norman’s clients. Right from the get go, it was obvious that his clients trust him and respect him. The clients I have had the opportunity to meet, have worked with him for a number of years, and have experienced a great deal of success in their individual businesses. Norman thinks out of the box and he truly believes that in order to make changes and address the challenges of today, you cannot use the same thought processes and actions that helped to create them. Norm has the ability to challenge your thinking in a way that causes you to consider alternative approaches to the obstacles in your business that produce the outcomes you’re looking for. I believe he is ONE OF A KIND… It is a privilege and a pleasure to know him as a friend and a colleague.

I. Chalif,
Owner Atlantic Capitol Solutions

Executive Coaching & Consulting - Boston, MA

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