There are currently five generations in the workplace who are in their 20s through to their 70s. The statistics point out that the Millennial Generation is quickly overtaking the Baby Boomers as the most populous generation in the workplace.
One thing contributing to this dynamic is the rate at which the Baby Boomers are exiting their corporate jobs. Another factor is the overall high Millennial population.
The departure of the Baby Boomers, before the Millennials are fully equipped and trained as LEADERS, is setting up a perfect storm for organizations. Baby Boomers were mentored and coached by Traditionalists as they developed their leadership styles; Millennials are losing their mentors, guides, and coaches to retirement.
The only work ethic conflict between the Baby Boomers and Millennials has set in motion a lack of mentorship and guidance for emerging LEADERS. Many companies are ignoring the impending shortage of LEADERS which will happen when the majority of the Baby Boomers have left for retirement or entrepreneurship.
As a result of these situations, ageism is at an all-time high. Emerging elders are not valued for their experience and skills and not being brought into organizations to round out the workforce.
As candidates for full-time employment or contract positions, elders are hearing code phrases from companies who are unwilling to bring in seasoned mentors, guides, and coaches.
Sometimes the hidden message is in the words, You are not a fit for our organization. The veiled message is we don’t hire people your age, we don’t value the skills and expertise that you developed over your career.
Recruiters and decision-makers might say something like that experience was too long ago. We are looking for individuals who have more current experience in that area. The experience itself is devalued because it happened too long ago.
There are those companies that will turn down an applicant or entrepreneur because they want individuals with qualifications that are not in alignment with the job description. The job description changes to eliminate the elder applicant or the proposal for business changes its criteria to favor a younger entrepreneur.
Organizations are not investing in learning and development initiatives that would equip and educate individuals on how to be proficient LEADERS. With the absence of this investment, it is imperative to have an in-house cadre of experienced mentors, guides, and coaches.
When the Baby Boomers leave their jobs and are not replaced, the Millennials don’t have the resources needed to support their growth and development. Emerging LEADERS won’t have formal Learning and Development opportunities or mentors, guides, and coaches to support them in developing their unique leadership style.
The greatest solutions in business are in the AND not the OR. This means that the solutions that combine two concepts or two components are the ones that will best solve the problem and last the longest when implemented. LEADERS who solve with the AND solutions will find themselves outperforming those with an OR mindset.
In this particular case, the AND solution comes when LEADERS decide to integrate multiple generations into their workforce either as full-time employees or through contracted consultants. Baby Boomers working alongside the Millennials provide a solution that is impossible without the AND. Working closely together, the knowledge transfer process is organic and effortless.
LEADERS will find themselves in worse situations for delaying investment in bringing on learning and development initiatives into their organizations. With so many Baby Boomers launching consulting businesses, there are ample resources to formally support emerging LEADERS in their growth and development.
Ageism is working against the solution needed to grow and develop the LEADERS of the future, today. Companies that can find their way to decide on the AND solution, are the ones that will win this business challenge.
How might you be biased against those in the Emerging Elder or Baby Boomer category? What is your mindset then it comes to developing LEADERS on your team?
Is ageism preventing your organization from achieving its leadership development goals? Are ageism biases undermining your organization’s need to develop proficient LEADERS? How can you disrupt the negative impact of ageism in your organization?
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