8 Strategies for Replacing Retired Boomers Planning an effective succession strategy

The mass exodus of baby boomers has been on the minds of business leaders for quite some time. While the exodus hasn’t happened as quickly as first thought, the transition is indeed beginning to make its mark. The situation as it’s now developing will create a significant dilemma for all types of corporations and organizations in general.


The dilemma is twofold: first, it is well known that the incoming new generation of leaders (typically aged 35-49) does not have the skills or experience of more senior leaders. While this to be expected, recent research conducted by i4cp, a Florida based research firm, identified these younger generation leaders were lacking skills in five critical leadership areas. This included critical thinking, the ability to create a vision and engage others, the ability to collaborate with other areas of a business and manage change, overall leadership and understanding how the different business sectors needed to work together.

Secondly, my own professional experience suggests younger leaders have higher expectations with respect to salary and compensation. They are also more demanding with respect to perks and other benefits such as vacation, vehicles, flexibility and executive education. As well, many young people are impatient, relying too much on their graduate education instead of being willing to engage in a longer apprenticeship type of career model. In other words, they want to leapfrog up the career ladder and, if opportunities are not found in their current employment, they won’t think twice about moving to another firm.


Where does this situation leave our current business leaders, especially since it’s well known that a large percentage have no succession planning strategies in place? What solutions would help to rectify this situation? I believe that working with an external expert and undertaking the following strategies would provide significant benefit to your organization.


1. Demographic survey – conduct a survey of all your employees with respect to their age demographics as well as the skills required for each job.


2. Map your situation – develop a risk management chart for each and every job in your organization and identify at least two individuals who could move into each job along with their potential timeframe. Confirm gaps and risks.

3. Identify training needs – prioritize those jobs which are crucial to the ongoing success of your organization, identify the competencies and training required for a successor and create a career development plan.


4. Identify potential internal talent – while good job performance may be evident, undertake a series of psychometric assessments to identify individuals who have the skills in the five critical areas mentioned above. Being a strategic and visionary thinker is a unique skill and, if you don’t have this skill within your organization, you will have to bring in an external candidate.


5. Map your candidate pool – once you have completed your assessments, create a map of your talent pool. This will enable you to determine short and long-term gaps and create a development plan for each individual. Invest in your people.


6. Link competencies to a strategic business plan – after the competencies have been developed for each job role, compare and contrast them to each of the strategic business goals. Determine which of the competencies will be the drivers to move you forward and then assess your strengths and weaknesses for each.


7. Confirm organizational values – while the younger generation might want higher compensation, most in my experience seek better life/work balance than their parents. Take time to examine your organizational values and workplace philosophy. Determine what would attract new employees, what would set you aside from your competitors and utilize these elements in your recruitment strategies.


8. Develop a recruitment strategy – finding the right candidate with the right skills at the right time and getting the cultural fit just right is not as easy as it looks. Most high caliber candidates are happy in their current work and are not on the job hunt. They need to be tapped on the shoulder and invited to look at your opportunity. Many times this must be done on a highly confidential basis.


As a seasoned executive search professional, I am now seeing many organizations moving into panic mode as their employees begin sharing their retirement plans, sometimes three at a time.


Effective planning and a view to the future will prevent this type of organizational risk.