Forget Skilled Workers, Manager Shortage is Looming

Talking about skilled worker shortages when double digit unemployment is rampant falls somewhere between heresy and paradox.  But in the past few days, more and more stories are being published about industries, niche businesses, or geographic areas struggling to find enough qualified workers.

And this morning I received an article about how the next skills crisis in manufacturing won't be as much from a lack of workers but managers.  According to the 10th annual World of Work survey from Randstad, a professional employment services firm, slightly more than half (52%) of employees surveyed said there were not enough qualified managers in their organization, and 45% were of the opinion that businesses were going to face a shortage of qualified managers in the future.

The survey results suggested that people qualified to become managers were opting out, for reasons including increased stress, increased paperwork, and having to lay off or fire employees.

This indicates a significant paradigm shift prompted by generational attitudes. For Veterans (those workers born before 1946) and older Baby Boomers, attaining a managerial role put you in charge. It was an authoritarian position you "earned" as a result of hard work, dedication, and tenure.  Many times it had nothing to do with the ability to manage and lead.  But this attitude worked when command-and-control was the "in" leadership style.

Things gradually changed as the Baby Boomers took over the workplace.  Manager titles were distributed like hot dogs at a picnic. For the Boomer, being manager was just another step on a career ladder and it offered status on the organizational chart.

But Gen X and especially Gen Y employees take a different perspective.  While a Baby Boomer would rarely if ever turn down a promotion,even if it meant relocating or leaving their family behind, younger workers are turning down the "opportunity" to deal with disgruntled employees, wrestle with budget responsibilities, and become the fall-guy for decisions  that extend way beyond their control and area of responsibilities.  Gen X are avoiding traditional managerial roles to protect their flexibility and independence. Gen Y simply won't give up lifestyle – whether it's for individual expression or family responsibilities.

For many organizations this reaction is horrifying.  But they better get used to it. For instead of having Baby Boomers climb over one another for a title, management is now finding too few qualified people ready to move up when the time comes.   And when they turn to the left and then to the right – it's the same story.

According to the survey 89% reported they would want to be manager if they were able to share their knowledge and experience with others, and 85% cited both being responsible for the success of an organization and being able to influence decisions as other positives.  This represents a significant shift from the military-like-top-down workplace to the flattened and empowered workplace.

Offering opportunities for young workers as well as Baby Boomers who have tired of the rat-race to mentor up and down the organization is forcing many organizations to re-write the job descriptions of managers.  Young workers also want access to bosses and executives – now. When they can access the CEO of your competitor on Twitter in an instant, they aren't willing to wait weeks to meet with their supervisor or pass messages up the chain of command to share their ideas with their boss.

You can read more at IndustryWeek : Forget Skilled Workers, Manager Shortage is Looming.


Ira S Wolfe