A Not-So-Perfect Labor Storm

In 1999, leadership expert Ira S. Wolfe coined the term “perfect labor storm” to describe a convergence of demographic and socioeconomic developments that would result in an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers in 2011 – the year the first Baby Boomers hit 65 and start to retire. But a severe and prolonged recession has delayed Dr. Wolfe’s predicted storm. Economic uncertainty has caused many Boomers to remain on the job, amid the highest unemployment rate in more than 30 years. Until we see the inevitable changing of the guard over the next decade, the workplace will be inhabited by a multigenerational stew of younger and older workers. Baby Boomers are lingering in the workplace. The younger Gen X and Gen Y (New Millennials) are growing impatient to ascend to leadership responsibilities. New graduates are knocking at HR’s door in record numbers. And technology, including social media, is transforming the mode and pace of communication. These trends are creating new opportunities, but not without foreseeable generational clashes. In the work I do in corporate coaching, I hear about new generation clashes often. This workplace environment will provide real opportunities and significant technological problems, Dr. Wolfe notes in his latest book, Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization: How to Manage the Unprecedented Convergence of the Wired, the Tired, and Technology in the Workplace (Xlibris, 2009). Eighty percent of polled adults believe Gen X and Y have a distinctly different point of view – the highest perceived disparity since 1969, when generations clashed over the Vietnam War and civil rights. Younger adults (18 to 29) report disagreements over lifestyle, views, family, relationships and dating....

A Dashboard for Managing Complexity

Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways. As we’ve stated before, A leadership coaching program is no longer reserved for problem leaders. Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. It is presented here in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle: Articulate a Vision: Formulate a clear and persuasive vision, and communicate why it’s important to all members of the enterprise. Do my direct reports see the forest, as well as the trees? Does everyone in the firm know not only where we are going, but, most importantly, why? Is the destination compelling and appealing? Think and Act Strategically: Make a practical plan for achieving this vision, including both short- and long-term strategies. Anticipate reactions and resistance before they happen by considering all stakeholders’ perspectives. Do we have a realistic plan for creating short-term results, as well as mapping out the future? Have we considered all stakeholders and anticipated objections? Has everyone bought into, and does everyone understand, the firm’s competitive strategy and value drivers? Can they explain it to others? Express Confidence: Provide frequent feedback to express appreciation for the support of those who work with and for you. Do the people you work with know you respect and value their talents and efforts? Have you made it clear that their upward guidance is welcomed and sought? Is there...