Current Issue

by Greg and Debra Buschman

There is a generational shift coming to the workforce that will require a collaborative effort among current and upcoming leadership. This shift involves a merging of the generations, which will need a coordinated effort to make sure that the experience and organizational knowledge in upper management is transferred to the emerging leadership, specifically between the generations of traditionalist, baby boomers, Gen X and millennials. Boomers and Gen-Xers have an opportunity to impart their knowledge and experience to millennials.

Sixty Percent of Government Employees are Eligible for Retirement
Almost 60 percent of government employees are eligible to retire. Green and Roberts, in “Impact of Postmodernism on Public Sector Leadership Practices; Federal Government Human Capitai Development Implications,” identified that the government is concerned that their human capital practices are at “high risk.” Unless management takes this issue seriously, they will be looking at a “retirement tsunami.” Gallup shows there is a shift in the workplace makeup as Traditionalist begins to disappear, the retirement of boomers and the increasing number of millennials who are entering the workplace. According to Green and Roberts, the “government senior manager cohort consist largely of baby boomers setting the stage for conflict with the post-modernism orientation of the Generation X and millennials that are replacing retiring employees.”

Disengaged Employees Cost U. S. Companies up to $550 Billion a Year
As traditionalists and boomers move toward retirement there is a danger of them becoming disengaged. Other causes of disengaged employees are burnout, disenchantment with current management, and the lack of mentoring for upward mobility. Gallup estimates that the cost of disengaged employees for U. S. companies is $450 billion to $550 billion a year, and leaders and managers who focus on employee’s strengths have the ability to eliminate active disengagement. Administrators will need to evaluate their current workforce and make considerations to ensure that there is adequate representation in their staffing. This should include looking at upcoming retirements and promotions. Due to the many boomers that will be retiring in the next five to 10 years, it is important to prepare for the loss of institutional knowledge and experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, “between 2014 and 2024, 36.4 million workers will enter the labor force and 28.6 million will leave.” It is important the leadership embraces generational differences so that there will not be a significant talent and performance deficit.1 Those in leadership should be able to lead and manage the diverse workforce and adapt to the changes that are inevitable. Leaders need to recognize the diversity in the workplace and use it as a source of strength, not division.2

Implementing Mentor Programs, Generational Diversity Training and Enhanced Communication Methodologies
It is always ideal to be an early adopter versus a lager when it pertains to change. It is not enough to just go with the flow but leaders must be able to identify needs for the future. Unfortunately, the transition for those in leadership has been limited in the public and private sector. Management should consider using mentor programs, generational diversity training, and enhanced communication methods that are intended to accommodate to each of the generation’s preferences, which will foster productivity that supports their work environment.3 Leadership training and mentoring programs will be essential in the next 10 years, in the public and private sectors.

Reverse Mentoring
Another way to increase engagement is to consider reverse mentoring. Millennials and Gen Xers can develop leadership skills and enhance job skills by using technology to mentor and train the older generations on technology skills.1 Millennials are able to embrace technology and are comfortable with change.3 They use technology as a resource for entertainment and problem-solving.

Transferring Knowledge and Building Trusted Relationships
It is this type of knowledge transfer and trusted relationship building that mentorship and training should produce. Therefore creating and implementing mentorship and training programs are a critical success factor for the next generation of leadership. The research needed for the creation of these programs should be at the center of our doctoral programs, public human resource initiatives, and private leadership training and consulting firms.

1Green, D. D., & Roberts, G. E. (2012). Impact of Postmodernism on Public Sector Leadership Practices; Federal Government Human Capitai Development Implications. 41 (1), 79-96.

2Gallup. (2013). State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders.

3Kapoor, C., & Solomon, N. (2011). Understanding and managing generational differences in the workplace. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes , 3 (4), 308- 318.

Greg Buschman, PhDc in Creative Leadership for Innovation & Change and Debra Buschman, MPA are the co-founders of Strategic Account Marketing LLC a consulting, certification and education firm. Greg centers on educating leaders to bridge the gap between the Millennial/Homeland generations and baby boomer/GenX leadership. Debra centers on governmental leadership and is the Chairperson of the Board for one the most revered first responder organizations in the nation.