Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Targeting the Millennials

I've been impressed by several leader development statistics lately regarding junior leaders.  The first one I shared with you several weeks ago.  Harvard Business Review ( reported that while managers usually gained their first leadership position at age 30, it wasn't until age 42 that they received their first real leadership training.  That is a pretty ugly 12 year gap!  What goes on in those 12 years?  Mostly learning on the job; a lot of experimentation; and numerous instances of lost talent because no one wants to work for a person who is experimenting with leadership.  The cost of that 12 year gap is pretty high -- lower productivity, decreased efficiency, and higher attrition.

The second statistic I saw this week came from Inc Magazine (, in which they referenced the 2012 HR BEAT asking what people most want from employers.  The number one answer for "Millennials (less than age 32)?"  Training.  40% of young respondents to this survey wanted an investment in their development.  While other demographics wanted more money, promotions, or reduced/flexible hours, these young people wanted to be developed.

The last statistics come from Bersin & Associates, a leading Human Resources research and advisory services firm.  Among their findings on leader development, I was struck by the following:

-- Companies that excel in leader development spend 60% more per person than less sophisticated companies, resulting in TWENTY TIMES greater employee retention.
-- The average annual investment in high performers, those who really drive the success of the company, was $7,100.

So put all of this together.  We have a common problem in the training and development of our young leaders.  They are clearly the future.  Yet, we abandon them until they get to middle-management.  Then, I guess, we try to fix them.  If they've bothered to even stay that long!

While the stereotypical view of millennials is often that they lack focus, are self-centered, and glued to social media, what they really want is to improve.  We can't expect them to advance into the 12-year leadership gap and still stick around.  They won't.  They will go to the companies with the $7,100 annual investment in high performers (and 20X lower retention).  They will go where they have opportunities to grow, develop, learn new skills, and demonstrate that their generation is ready to do great things.

So, take a look at your investment in those junior to mid-grade leaders and your young high performers.  Is it time to lock them in and make them part of your succession planning?  Might it be time to trade the small investment in leader development for the sort of results (higher retention, better performance) that quality companies see?  Short-sited leaders worry about these costs as being too high.  Mature leaders with long-term views recognize that they can't afford NOT to make these investments.  That's Leader Business.

Here's how I can help.  In 2013, I will be doing a number of intense, 3-day leadership workshops (Boot Camps) targeted toward junior and mid-grade leaders and high performers.  These workshops will be held in Los Angeles, Irvine, San Diego, and Ontario.  Contact me and let's discuss how "Academy Leadership" programs can help you close that 12-year gap and provide the sort of skills and tools that millennials, junior and mid-grade managers, and high performers desperately crave!  Dates for upcoming workshops in Southern California can be found on the Academy Leadership website.

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