Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Because we don’t have a performance development plan in place, individual workers never get feedback on their performance and have few development and training opportunities. How do we ensure the long-term profitability of our company, especially since many employees will soon retire and those remaining lack the necessary skills/training to succeed them?
-- Bedeviled bureaucrat, government, Pretoria, South Africa
Dear Bedeviled Bureaucrat:
Employees everywhere value performance feedback. Without training and development opportunities, they get frustrated and bored. Making matters worse, the workforce changes that are coming in the next decade--with baby boomers retiring in droves--will create a brain drain like none we’ve ever seen. Unless you get a handle on your talent requirements, it will be hard for your company to remain profitable over the long term.
It’s time to implement a sound talent management process. Think about taking the following key steps: Update your performance appraisal process, and hold managers and employees mutually accountable for implementing it. Include development as part of the appraisal, so every employee has an individual development plan for the coming year.Take an inventory of your organization’s talent to assess what you’ll lose when your retirees walk out the door. Show the results to senior execs so the numbers speak for themselves. Back up the “bad news” with a strategic plan that helps you transfer skills and knowledge to the remaining employees. Think about cost-effective strategies, such as job shadowing, having retiring workers mentor younger colleagues, and improved job documentation so that future workers can get up to speed quickly. Consider using rotational assignments to help “juniors” catch up with the “seniors.”Focus development on the skills needed for future success. Make sure that management sees the connection between the training you offer and the impact it will have on business results. Don’t do anything frivolous, but make sure it is fun so that employees enjoy the experience.Create a partnership between your mature workers and your up-and-comers. Work styles and preferences may be different across generations, so emphasize and demonstrate respect for the wisdom and perspective of your retiring workers.Be creative about keeping your retirees employed. Consider flexible arrangements that can capitalize on their skills even after they leave the 9-to-5 grind behind. Think about starting a “special talent brigade” where your former employees can work as part-time consultants, on an as-needed basis, when work demands are heavy.Last, spread the word to other companies in your area about your creative ideas. I’m sure they’re facing some of the same problems, and may have ideas of their own to share.