• It didn’t appear “millennials” were in the conversation about the “problem” being solved.
  • It came across as the conversation we Baby Boomers are having about these problematic Millennials – whom we created!
  • In fairness to the firms in the article, the problem with Millennials is much bigger and more challenging than Investment Bank employment opportunities. It goes to the heart of one of the five problems all of Humanity are working on. (Stay tuned here for future thoughts on the other four.)  That being – the generation in power is afraid their successors are not ready to take the reins of the organization (and ironically not doing very much to prepare them to do just that.) This challenge can be found across industries and sectors. It can be found in many cultures and countries – it is a human problem.

This particular version is particularly acute in the US due in large part to the efforts of Baby Boomers like myself who have spent the last 25-30 years trying to parent “better than we were parented.” Our efforts have been lampooned and derided for years (from “everybody wins a trophy” leagues to in utero music and Latin training.) Is it really a surprise that this generation has emerged with a different relationship to work including a reluctance to embrace the “dues-paying” we now affectionately attribute to our mettle and competence? It seems the only thing we are not entitled to is to be surprised.

Talent is the next big crisis bearing down on public, private and not-for profit sectors alike. Early stage recruiting and retention signals are being felt. However, just as the warning signs of financial disaster in 2007, the inconceivable returns of the Madoff Fund and the early signs of heart trouble have all been ignored – these early signs about Talent have failed to generate any significant adaptation.

Here are some questions for reflection:

  • How close to retirement or some other form of departure are the people in the critical positions in our organization?
  • Who are the people in position to replace them?
  • What have we done to make sure they are ready? Just how ready do we think they are?
  • What are the essential parts of our mission and/or operating model that must be preserved into the future?
  • If we asked the previous question of the “potential successors” how would their answers compare to the answers of those of us currently in charge? Does the comparison concern us?
  • Millennials are different. We made sure of that by raising, educating and socializing them differently from our recollection of being raised by the generation we succeeded. We will not succeed by trying to give them things “we think” they will embrace. It’s time to work with them on building a future they will embrace because they helped build it not because we “left it to them.” Look around your leadership team – who’s channeling the Millennials to your team?

Good luck. It’s later than you think!