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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

Brain Drain, Talent, Growth, and Baby Boomers

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

In a recent Frost & Sullivan Global Survey of CEOs, 93% of CEOs consider growth their number-one priority for the next five years, and yet 80% have no confidence in their direct reports' abilities to support their growth objectives.

I happen to be one of the 93%, but I am concerned by the lack of confidence other CEOs have in their own people. From my own experience, it has always been very difficult to find motivated talent.

Our country is in the middle of a "brain drain" crisis (yes, it is a crisis!) as the baby boomers leave the work force. Most companies are allowing these employees escape without capturing the knowledge and skills they hold. All of the training and investments in human capital is walking out the door, mostly unnoticed.

Each generation has it's own challenges for management, because each age group is inspired and motivated by different things. In the past, most people were loyal to their company and rarely changed jobs. Now it is not unusual for people to switch jobs frequently. After the way companies have cheated people of their pensions and other benefits, I guess it is no surprise that employee loyalty flew right out the window.

For a company to maintain growth, it requires constant grooming of the work force. In my own company, I have turned the corporate pyramid upside-down so that the employees are on top, and I as CEO, work for them - not the other way around. I also empower my employees to make decisions without being micro-managed.

My company embraces diversity - I don't want employees who are just "yes" people. I want them to think and act independently. If you don't trust their judgment, then they probably shouldn't be your employee! You also have to let them make mistakes from time to time in order for them to grow.

Developing talent is no minor task. The conundrum of "You can't get a job without experience, yet you can't get experience without a job." really exists. The few young people who go to college are not being prepared for the "real world." Most graduates understand theory, but fall flat on the application of their knowledge. Those who went the other route have experience, but have stopped learning and stagnate. With the Internet, there is no excuse to ever stop learning. You must learn new things every day to stay competitive. One of the best lessons to teach someone is HOW to learn.

With the current state of our economy, growth is going to be a moving target and very unpredictable. This slump is actually the best time to get ahead in business. While most companies are cutting staff, now is the time to focus on the company mission statement and to jump ahead of the competition.

To stay in business, you must find and hire the best and brightest employees. Once that task is completed, another challenge is "keeping them".

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II
President / CEO
Clever Things, LLC

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