The Race to Engage Future Leaders. What’s the Hurry?
Many industries are facing a looming leadership gap as seasoned employees retire and younger employees must assume increased responsibilities. In some organizations, there will not be enough qualified people to fill the leadership jobs available. While Baby Boomers exit the workplace, younger generations have not yet acquired the knowledge and skills to move into leadership positions . This creates a skills gap that can be harmful to the future success of an organization.
Making this problem worse is the fact that there is a higher turnover rate for younger employees since Gen Xers and Gen Ys often have greater job mobility. This is due to their varied, transferable skills that enable them to cross industries and mine opportunities locally, nationally and globally.
If organizations do not engage future leaders, they could find themselves facing a variety of HR related issues.
How Current Leaders can Grow Future Leaders
In order to attract and engage younger employees long enough to build a future leadership team, it’s important that organizations understand their current and potential employees who will inherit the senior roles that Baby Boomers and Traditionalists now occupy.
From a leadership perspective, the differences between the generations in an organization can be both a positive and a negative when it comes to innovation, change management and collaboration. Organizations that are able to recruit, retain and develop Gen Ys will be in a stronger position to build their future leaders faster than their competition.
Organizations that take the time to understand the expectations of the younger cohorts can begin to build programs, policies and practices that drive engagement levels and provide younger employees with leadership opportunities earlier in their careers. Building leadership bench strength requires providing leadership opportunities to younger employees in a calculated manner so that they develop and strengthen their skills over time.
In a competitive marketplace, it’s crucial that organizations be perceived by talented Gen Ys as places they want to work. This means that organizations need to evaluate their current practices in order to determine if they are recruiting in a manner that makes them a top employer of choice. They will also want to build a workplace culture that leverages the strengths of younger generations and engages them at work.
Organizations that hope to retain Gen Ys will need to invest in learning and development in order to ensure that they remain with the organization long enough to become future leaders. They will also need to make efforts to provide younger employees with challenging work, mentorship opportunities, cross-functional projects and secondments to build skills and knowledge that they need to become leaders.
It’s important that current leaders engage and support future leaders. Leaders who currently hold decision making positions are needed to support the programs and efforts to build future leadership. Current leaders should actively participate in recruiting, succession planning and career develop initiatives that develop and engage future leaders. If current leaders are invested in developing their successors, the entire process of developing future leaders becomes much more successful for everyone involved.
As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.