Minneapolis — Feb. 9
New research by Personnel Decisions International (PDI) shows companies face a substantial employee skills shift as 22.5 million baby boomers are on schedule to retire during the next 10 years, and company leadership transitions to Generation X managers (born between 1964 and 1979) who will bring a new, distinct skills set to the workplace.
“Research shows Gen X managers may struggle to fill the baby boomers shoes if companies expect them to have the same big-picture view of the industry and technical knowledge as their predecessors,” said Brian Davis, PDI executive vice president of practice areas. “Companies need to be aware that a smooth transition to Gen X leadership may mean a shift from the expectations they had for baby boomers.”
“The PDI Pulse on Leaders” research surveyed the competencies of nearly 24,000 mid-level managers in 20 skill areas. According to the data, both groups are able to meet performance outcomes, although they arrive at those outcomes very differently.
Baby boomers received higher ratings from their managers in 10 out of 18 competencies. They were nearly 18 percent more likely to be rated as “knowing the business” and 10 percent more likely to use technical or functional expertise on the job.
Baby boomers also rated substantially better in their ability to coach and develop and their ability to manage execution.
On the other hand, Gen X managers are more likely to receive higher ratings in self-development, work commitment and analyzing issues than their older counterparts.
PDI said companies have two primary options based on the data:
1. Identify when specific skills are crucial to success and train members of the younger generation in those areas in which they are weaker. Subsequently, companies consistently should screen potential leaders for grasp of these skills.
2. Prepare for new management structures and practices based on the Gen X skills set.
A new management structure likely would result in a shift from the baby boomers’ more hierarchical, directive leadership style to a new, collaborative approach relying on collective buy in as Gen X assumes more management positions.
Baby boomers can help facilitate the shift to Generation X’s leadership by involving younger managers in problem solving to broaden their job scope.
At the same time, boomers can benefit by working on communication and collaboration skills as modeled by Generation X.
“Both the baby boomer and Gen X competencies are valuable tools in the marketplace,” Davis said. “But it’s important to prepare for the changes that will result from these differences as companies transition to the next generation of managers.”