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Today’s Workplace Trends Affecting Tomorrow’s Leaders (Part 1)

Today’s Workplace Trends Affecting Tomorrow’s Leaders (Part 1)

This blog is a review of the session titled “High Potential Engagement—Key Strategies for Assessing, Engaging and Developing Top Talent” from the 2014 SHRM Conference in Orlando, Florida, presented by Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal of the Interchange Group.

We are managing a multigenerational workforce right now. The science of HR was developed in the 1920s and 1930s, and a lot of it doesn’t reflect the type of workforce we have now, especially when it comes to Gen Xers and Millennials. Described below are a few trends in the workforce having a profound effect on the talent pool and that should be taken into consideration when engaging leaders and those with high leadership potential.

Financial insecurity. Financial growth in the U.S, was relatively slow and steady during the 1970s and 1980s, with some volatility in the 1990s. However, starting in the 2000s, the markets have been much more volatile, and people are not feeling nearly as financially secure as they did during the previous 40 years. This volatility is not likely to go away anytime soon, and companies need to hold onto leaders who know how to lead when “the sky is falling.”

Rapid discontinuous change. Technological advances, especially, fall into this category. The changes they represent disrupt our way of doing things—sometimes practically overnight. Change management is so important for current and future leaders because they need to be agile and be able to build a culture of agility in the workplace.

Stakeholder scrutiny. Taxpayers, government entities & watchdog groups, customers, and employees are having much more of a voice than ever before (in some cases even ousting CEOs). Some of this [ability to scrutinize the actions of leaders and their companies can be attributed to the rapid advances in technology in changing communication—social media networks, the 24-hour news cycle, and so many other tech disruptions. Regardless of where it comes from, the scrutiny is real and leaders now and in the future must be aware of everything that reflects on their image and what goes out to the public.

Polarization of the crowds. Continuing on the trend of technology affecting communication, the rapid transmission of data on almost any subject in the U.S. has caused common people to become more polarized on many subjects (e.g., gun control, immigration, etc.) they may not have held strong opinions on previously. Individual stakeholders of any given company will end up on both sides of any argument and the fight can be an emotional one. Leaders must be able to carefully walk the line to satisfy each side well enough to be able to move forward.

Data deluge. A massive amount of data exists that can be examined by almost anyone. Eric Schmidt at Google has said that every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. Yet leaders and high-potential employees still don’t usually have all the data they need to answer the hard questions, so they must develop an acute sense of timing and make decisions quickly with the data they have at hand—hardly a comfortable situation.

Demographic shifts. When you think about succession planning, consider the chart below, which indicates the vacuum that’s being created as the Baby Boomers begin to retire. The US workforce as a whole will be getting younger and a majority of those in managerial positions will be retiring or cutting back their responsibilities. You’re going to have to fast-track Gen Xers and Millennials into those roles vacated by the Boomers before you know it. You can’t ignore it.

Today's Trends - # babies born per capita


Want more? Read the next blog post about strategies for engagement of high potential employees in part 2 of this blog.

Previous Blogs on Talent Management:

Meaningfulness and Engagement in Your Workforce

What is the Talent Management Life Cycle?

Introduction to Employee Engagement, Career Development and Talent Management



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