Developing Leaders for the Future

The United States is in the middle of an informational and cultural revolution, and the battle ground is occurring inside every organization throughout Kansas City.   The only way to win is to prepare today for tomorrow’s workforce with training and development.

The Facts

  • For the first time in modern history, workforce demographics span four generations, with very diverse values, beliefs, and expectations.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the civilian labor force consists of 141.4 million people. Of those, 27 percent are Millennials, 37 percent are Generation X, 32 percent are Baby Boomers and 4 percent are Traditionalist.  The generation currently entering the workforce (Millennials) uses technology that is many times far ahead of those used by their employer.
  • The amount of technical knowledge is doubling every two years, which means that at least half of what a student learns in their first year of college will be outdated or irrelevant by their third year.  Compound this by the fact that ten of the most in-demand jobs in 2010 didn’t exists in 2004. There is a disparity between the talent needed by organizations and that of those unemployed creating a labor shortage during a time of high unemployment rates.
  • The United States has an aging workforce. In 2010, 48 percent were 40 years of age or older. Over the next few years, experts predict this number to increase to more than 51 percent. The average age of the American workers is expected to increase from 34.6 years to 40.6 years while the number of workers 55 and older will grow to 20 percent in 2020–or one out of five people in the workforce (AARP).
  • By 2020, two entirely new and different demographics will become the majority of the workforce – Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 2000).

A look at workforce demographic shifts should convince any organization, regardless of size, that there is much to learn and do differently if they are to attract and retain talent of all ages which are necessary to succeed. Connections can be made and benefits applied from these shifts, especially if an organization prepares its workforce.

It isn’t too difficult to see the challenges that companies are facing, however one of most challenging is knowledge transfer.  It is essential for companies to understand how to capture the knowledge and expertise that Traditionalist (born between 1920 and 1945) and Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have gained throughout their lifetime to a younger generation that communicates and learns in a completely different way.

How can employee training and development help with knowledge management?

Knowledge sharing is not about solving tomorrow’s problems with new solutions, but creating a network of information that is connected across the globe.  Collaboration tools are necessary in today’s organizations to outrun the challenges organizations face, which occur faster than we can understand and manage them.  Collaboration spaces bring people together to synthesize ideas, issues, and actions to create expressive messages and lessons while producing a more thorough product for consumers.

Training and development to consider

Reverse mentoring to facilitate an organizational culture that supports collaborative communication

Today, mentoring programs are moving from a formal to an information program to benefit the younger and older worker.  Older workers may feel a sense of accomplishment, belonging, and self-worth through mentoring programs.  The younger of the pair can learn a valuable lesson in work ethic and customer service that is often lacking with much younger workers today.  Relationships are formed during the mentoring process that normally would not have received attention.  The deep networks older workers have already formed facilitate these relationships.  Mentoring can become central to a company’s social infrastructure.

Workers benefit from mentoring in the following ways

  1. Opportunities to build a foundation of competence and confidence
  2. Refine communication and social skills
  3. Receiving feedback in a safer environment in a performance and developmental nature
  4. Having a trusted source of information

Leverage social media technologies for knowledge and information sharing

There are many inexpensive tools available through social media to facilitate knowledge sharing, but first there must be employee buy in that is encouraged by the senior leadership of the company.   Sharing and adoption of best practices and lessons enables individuals to take advantage of what is already known, which saves time, effort and ultimately money.   Combining these savings with a knowledge enabled environment fosters innovation and creates the conditions to gain an advantage over competitors.

The collection of emerging ideas and dynamic knowledge from multiple people in the form of living content is an example of knowledge sharing in its quickest form.  Living content tools take the form of those in the wiki category, specifically Google Docs, DimDim, Blogs, or a company’s intranet.   The most important aspect is having the content searchable and experts identified for ease and speed of information access.

A desire to learn is common in all generations. Advancing leadership development, skills training, problem solving, team building and communication skills can help members of any generation. Providing generational training not only will help to knowledge sharing and solve misunderstandings, it will motivate, engage and create the leaders of the future.



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