Are You Ready for the Silver Tsunami?

The raft of baby boomers set to retire is astounding at some companies.  I had a client that has been in existence for decades that recently experienced the largest per capita retirement in their history – many in leadership and executive roles.   Add to this that 401k balances and stock prices are looking better lately and unprepared companies may be surprised.  If you are just beginning to plan for this impact, you may be too late.

Here’s what I see as benchmark efforts to prepare for the Silver Tsunami:

  1. Know the numbers and potential impacts.  Look at the numbers by talent pools at all levels and not just at the top.  Project the numbers out 3 to 5 years. Know the retirement plans of key players.
  2. Know your mission-critical or pivotal positions and the competencies that are critical for success in those roles.  Along with numbers/demographics, look at the availability of those competencies in talent pools and understand the research behind how difficult those competencies are to develop.  That will give you a much better picture of gaps and investment needs.
  3. Re-assess your investment in and the methodology used to develop your leaders.  Is it competency-based, customizable to individual needs and intentional?  Does it follow a 70-20-10 development model and focus on creating meaningful challenges that are built into a careers and not bolted on as something extra?
  4. Know your high potential talent at all levels.  This usually requires most companies to change the process they use to assess talent.  If you are depending solely on the judgment of single managers, you are missing a lot.  Make sure that someone (not just their immediate manager) is paying attention to the care and feeding of high potentials.  Assure that they know about the opportunities for a challenging career within your firm so that are not enticed by the many leadership opportunities outside your organization that will be put in front of them.
  5. Take a closer look at the typically large pool of solid performers (we call these the High C’s) and identify people that could be stretched to take on broader or higher level roles.  Many of my clients have found an untapped resource in this pool that, with improved talent assessment and leadership development methodology, can add to your overall talent capacity.
  6. Address non-performers.  If leadership talent is going to be in tight supply, companies cannot afford to have change-reluctant, low skilled talent particularly in pivotal roles. You will be surprised at the amount of capacity you will release by getting non-performers out of the way.
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