Different Thinkin’

There clearly are several significant workplace trends looming in front of us that we would do well to recognize. I’ve mentioned many of them here in this blog. Additionally, other authors, consultants, and practitioners have also done a good job of trying to predict the future.

As with all pseudo-science, however, some of it is pure bunk.

For instance:

Baby-boomer retirement, and its purported “sucking sound” on available talent, is quite possibly much ado about nothing. Let’s look at it logically: The definition of a baby-boomer is someone born between 1947 and 1963 – spanning almost 2 decades. Couple that with the current trend of later retirement, and you have a group of people born over a 20-year timeframe, retiring individually 55-75 years later at various ages. At best, it’s a non-event; at worst, it’s generational in nature, and very specific to population demographics — for instance, it’s clearly more prevalent in the midwest than in either coast, or in the top 10 most populated metroplitan areas.

Organizations are realizing that generational issues are not materializing as expected. No big surprise, really. We’ve been dealing with diverse workforces for a hundred years, including race, gender, and age — “generational” differences aren’t any more significant, and merely require purposeful thought to overcome. Workers do not have to view society, the world, and the workplace equally to be productive. Frankly, I believe we’ll see more of employees just “coming to work to work,” and less senseless attention on those things that don’t directly effect their ability to be productive.

So, when futurists write columns and books, and read the tea leaves to determine where we’re headed, use your noodle and some common sense before blindly drinking the Kool-aid.

A big trend that does needs attention – there is clearly a growing dearth of leadership talent available. This isn’t as much a function of baby-boomers leaving as it is our desire for new, fresh leadership at a time when the leadership “bench strength” is at its weakest. Many hyper-performing employees don’t necessarily view management as a logical progression from their current assignment, and we haven’t done a good job of painting a favorable picture of becoming a leader (think SOX requirements, jail terms, bad publicity for poor performance, etc.). Further, many of those extended-career boomers don’t necessarily want to work that “extension” as a high-stress leader. We better start growing managers and leaders – and fast!

In short, many real trends, contrary to those consistently broadcast like chicken little’s falling sky, are as much a “movement” in the workplace as they are trends.

Changes – they are a’comin’…


Kevin Berchelmann

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