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Dr. Curtis L. Odom


The Workforce It Is A-Changin'

Posted: 11/16/2012 12:31 pm

Take the dynamics of a changing workforce and a changing business climate and ask yourself: is there enough talent out there to move your organization forward? Are you positioned well enough to get the talent that you need? Suspend for a moment the thought that I am talking about A-list talent, and ask yourself if there is enough talent in general to sustain your organization.

Today the answer is very likely yes. But I would venture that is in large part due to the economy and the fact that Boomers aren't quite leaving at the rate we expected, and unemployment is high enough that people are legitimately scared to go elsewhere. Lastly, people that are unemployed are willing to take any old job. But this does not mean that it will stay this way. Things change, and although this may take more time than most other changes, you should start to plan for the potential shortages of talent in your organization.

It is a problem. Not an emergency quite yet, but it should be on your radar. Your organization should have a plan for how to manage this in the foreseeable future. Unemployment rates of recent college graduates are troubling. Recent graduates have traditionally been able to take time to learn on the job, working under the protection of more seasoned employees. But once things turn around and Boomers leave, these unemployed will be asked to jump right into the organization, and they will not have had the benefit of time. They will be asked to fill a fairly significant void in the organization.

So, the question becomes, is your organization prepared for this? Does your organization have a talent management strategy? Are the leaders of the organization even aware of this as a pending issue? Have leaders in the organization started to think this one through? Are they taking any action?

If the answer to any of these questions is no... then ask yourself why. Or more importantly, how long will it be and what will it take before the organization can answer any of these questions with "yes"?

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  • #1 Eliminate untrendy slang.

    Just speak plain English. That's always in fashion.

  • #2 Refrain from using expressions such as "You aren't old enough to remember this... "

    They are not only insulting, but also add to unnecessary and awkward attention to age gaps.

  • #3 Expect ongoing changes in technology and try to stay open.

    Overcome your reluctance to texting, Twitter, and Facebook. Stop explaining how it used to be -- how you bent over a light box with an Exacto knife to cut and paste, as opposed to a strike of a computer key. Instead, read up on technology articles, take seminars to keep yourself current and always ask for advice from web-savvy friends and family members.

  • #4 Use your age to your benefit.

    Achieve this by evaluating how to build and bridge ideas, pulling in additional work.

  • #5 Acknowledge the talents and strengths of the younger group.

    Articulate what they are and why they're important.

  • #6 Request time-outs during long meetings to refocus the group, lessen tension and find new directions.

    Younger techies can benefit from your team building and negotiation skills.

  • #7 Make an effort to mentor one or two younger people who have talent but need some advice and coaching.

    You'll be doing a service and building a team of loyal fans at the same time.


Follow Dr. Curtis L. Odom on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@curtisodom