Happy Groundhog Day!
I started my career on Groundhog Day 30 years ago today, which got me thinking about career longevity and talent management. Peter Drucker’s career was 75 years long. Think about that. I’m not saying he retired when he was 75. He stopped working when he died in his 90′s, ending 75+ years of working for a living. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t doing the same thing for 75 years. He actually began as a journalist and morphed over time through several careers, including consulting and teaching. Writing continued to be a theme throughout his career though and he is one of the best AND most prolific writers on business subjects.
So at thirty years in, it’s not impossible for me to be just passing the midway point. Flip that around and consider how we think about productive longevity and the talent we employ. An employee that’s reached 30 years of service is expected to be at or near retirement.
Maybe we shouldn’t think that way. The impact that an individual is having on the organization, assuming they are still motivated and keeping their skills up-to-date, is potentially huge. They have all those experiences and successes and failures behind them that inform their actions, increase their value to the organization, and make them stronger problem solving team members.
The reason I bring this up is because this may be an issue for American business in a few years. Already, CEOs that I speak to are concerned about the quality of in-coming talent, worried that individuals entering the workforce are not as driven or professionally curious about what drives success in an organization.
The impact of this is going to increase for a few years. America is in a trough in the cycle of population booms and busts. The next population boom won’t hit the workforce for another 8-10 years. In the meantime, while there seems to be a lot of available talent, the mismatch between what’s available and what’s needed is not closing very fast. Demand and competition for qualified talent will continue to rise as we work our way out of the economically driven slump we are in now. It may be time to think about more experienced talent, the contribution it can make, and what sort of positions and work arrangements appeal to this group. Of course we shouldn’t forget the future very experienced talent that is already working for us. What kind of dialog are we having with them? Are we assuming they will retire and leave us or are we helping to find ways to keep work fun and rewarding for them?