Demographic Shifts: Why Now is the Time to Raise Your Hand for Management Responsibilities

Feel that? It could be one of the many seismic demographic shifts taking place in the global workforce today, which means that if you’re interested in moving into management, there’s never been a better time to raise your hand – and take the lead.

You might have heard that the Baby Boomers are sticking around, and it’s partly true — at least for now. According toThe Economist, while their less-educated peers are opting out of the work force, your white collar, “knowledge worker” Baby Boomer colleagues are continuing to participate in the corporate workforce far longer than any other generation preceding them.

But until now, that trend has somewhat disguised an even more dramatic shift: According to Deloitte’s 2014 Millennial Survey, “Millennials will comprise 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025.”

Think about that for a moment. While 2025 may sound like the stuff of science fiction, in only the next eleven years, Baby Boomers will have all but completed the handoff to members of Generations X and Y. In some sectors, like the oil and gas industry (where this is known as “the great crew change”), companies are already bracing for the unprecedented retirement of up to 50% of professional employees within the next decade.

So what does that mean for younger emerging leaders?

In a 2013 report titled Young Managers Rise in the Ranks, Ernst and Young noted that there has already been a significant shift in Generations X and Y moving into management roles in the past five years.

This generational shift brings with it new challenges, as corporate cultures shift away from a traditional structure based on rank and tenure to one in which younger people take over roles long-held by more seasoned professionals, or get promoted to manage peers, including some that are older than them.

Who is poised to take the lead?

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, if you are on the cusp of outgrowing your role as an individual contributor, or have been thinking about raising your hand for a management role, you might want to wave that hand in the air, now.  Employers will need continuity in their management ranks as those demographic shifts take place.

Generation Y are eager to become leaders, and according to Deloitte’s survey, do not believe that businesses are doing enough to help them develop those skills.

But 70% of respondents across all generations who participated in Ernst and Young’s survey agreed that it is Generation X who are currently best equipped to hold management roles.

The Takeaway

So if you’re a Baby Boomer, raise your hand now to manage and mentor others using the knowledge you’ve accumulated over the course of your career. Millennials, seek out management development opportunities and speak to your management about the coming demographic shift to build your case for why now is the ideal time to cultivate your generation’s leadership skills. And if you’re Gen X, ask for a promotion.

Either way, there’s simply never been a better time to contribute to your organization’s long-term prospects by raising your hand for management responsibilities.

Author’s note: Big thanks to Anna Ettin of Bank of America for directing me to the resources mentioned in this article.

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Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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