Talent Crisis Aggravated by Poor Leadership

I was reading a blog from a recruiting firm recently bemoaning the escalating talent shortage as baby boomers retire. Depth of expertise lags behind demand in numerous industries. In fact, the writer postulated that this shortage was driving companies to go outside of the US for talent.

In my view, poor management of today's knowledge worker is the greater crisis --- not the lack of talent.

Case in point: I don't have the statistics, but I can tell you that I am getting a record number of calls from recruiters asking for referrals for top jobs. Many of them are for experienced direct marketers with specific industry expertise. These jobs typically pay well over $200,000/year plus bonuses and equity. So the jobs are there and the money is not a problem.

But the experienced professional direct marketers I know tell me that these jobs are often transient and unstable. So they are resistant to move because they may find themselves on the street in six months. Companies have lost credibility with employees because these same companies have demonstrated zero loyalty to the people who built their organizations.

And the children of these older workers have lived through that pain with their parents.

In her book entitled The Manager’s Step-by-Step Guide to Outsourcing, Linda R. Dominguez lays out compelling statistics about the coming talent shortage in this brief summary taken from an Execunet book report.

"This shortage is predominantly caused by the large number of workers (Baby Boomers) leaving the sector to retire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the years 2000 and 2010, the number of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 will jump 47.2 percent, while those aged 25 to 34 will increase only 2.8 percent. The number of workers aged 35 to 45 will actually drop 13.7 percent. The shrinking numbers of workers between 35 and 45 indicate the severity of the coming labor shortage. Simply stated, we will need to import labor or export jobs."

This is probably true, but not the only reason for the talent shortage.

In my opinion, corporate America has not trained their people to manage well as a whole for the last two decades. Combine this lack of attention to people development, declining employee loyalty and demographic trends with management that does not have the vision to address the core issues they can control. What you are left with is indeed a talent crisis

The talented DM people I know are available for real jobs with excellent bosses who know how to lead rather than micromanage. Great jobs that allow top talent to stretch their skills in an unfettered environment are more rare today than four leaf clovers.

What can we do in the companies we work for or influence to make them better employers? What companies do you know that have bucked this trend and are managing their talented employees for the long term?

Posted on November 15, 2007 and filed under General.