Smart organizations can begin planning now

By Barbara J. Bowes, Legacy Bowes Group

We all know it’s been happening – the baby boomer exit, that is. To date, it’s been fairly innocuous. Yet, businesses are being impacted by baby boomer retirements. For instance, many small business owners have had to look to the potential of mergers and acquisitions as a means to exit their business.

That’s because the challenge for small businesses is that not many organizations can afford to have an up-and-coming leader working as an “understudy,” especially for a lengthy period; it’s just too expensive. The result is a loss of corporate knowledge within many organizations, big and small, and the creation of a growing leadership gap.

Couple this challenge with the fact that the leadership skills needed to take organizations successfully into the future are quite different than today’s technical skills and management style. In fact, current leaders perceive that the one key skill missing from the up-and-coming group of leaders is collaboration. In their view, collaboration is important especially because of the demand to do more with less accompanied by a continually changing global marketplace. In turn, these demands will see an increased use not only of cross-functional teams and interdepartmental reliance but also project teams that span across different agencies and/or corporations.

So, what is an effective solution to this perceived lack of skills? One answer is to begin aggressively assessing and developing your own internal talent. And from an assessment point of view, very few organizations ever conduct a study of their workforce. Yet, this is such a valuable activity for mapping your workforce demographics and identifying the level of risk for retirements and/or employees. It is also valuable for identifying front line workers with the potential for personal and professional growth. Once a workforce survey is complete, you are then ready to begin fitting employees into a variety of progressive professional development plans so that you can “promote from within.”

From one real-life example, a front line manufacturing worker was identified as high potential. This individual was mentored over a period of five years and provided with a combination of in-house training and support for university accreditation. The individual was continually promoted, and within a few years became a member of the executive team and stayed with the company for many additional years. Certainly a huge overall benefit!

Now that you can appreciate the value of this approach, let’s look at how to start and how to foster a learning culture within your organization.

Conduct a workforce analysis
As mentioned earlier, this strategy will enable you to identify employees at all levels of the organization who are eligible to retire and enable you to plan for such risk. Use your information to identify the individual educational status and interests of your younger generation and use this information to put a succession plan in place. If your organization has a Human Resources Information System (HRIS), then ensure your information is kept updated.


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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.