The book titles are enough to scare the succession planning right out of you—The 2010 Meltdown: Solving the Impending Job Crisis, Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent and Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of An Aging Workforce. Believe me, magazine editors love hyperbole as much as the next guy, but these titles seem to be more B-movie than business book. (Can't you just see the movie poster now? Baby-boomer zombies wreaking havoc on those all-too-human CEOs. "We won't be stopped until we bring ALL of corporate America to its knees!")
Oddly enough, whenever I mention retiring baby boomers to trainers the image I get is a little different. Usually, it's an indifferent trainer shrugging his shoulders. Trainers seem to think it's no big deal, and they're the ones that are responsible for keeping the intellectual capital of their companies intact over the next few years. Hey, hasn't anyone been to Barnes & Noble lately?
Even Jack Welch would hear nothing of a pending crisis when I asked him about it a few months back. Rather, he saw it as more of an opportunity. "Companies shouldn't be afraid to take risks by promoting tomorrow's leaders into these roles today. It's wonderful to have an organization that is dynamic and getting fresh blood into management positions. Will they be ready? Maybe they won't all be trained perfectly, but they'll be able to grow into their jobs if you give them the right support systems."
This month's cover story—"Outta Here: Are You Ready for the Baby Boomers to Retire?"—examines the situation inside and out, offering plenty of sound strategies, best practices and tips for transitioning your workforce. If you're not a procrastinator, you've probably already begun to plan for the inevitable shift coming. But in the end, I don't think it'll be as bad as some are making it out to be. Why? It all has to do with the baby boomers (doesn't it always?). They've been defining the American experience since the hula hoop. Why should retirement be any different? Boomers are an industrious bunch, and they'll find creative ways to ease their way into retirement. They'll work part-time, they'll consult, or they'll mentor younger workers a few days a week. They have talent, knowledge and experience, and they're more than willing to help pass it on. Many companies, in fact, are already making it easier by starting what they're calling "transition programs" for workers nearing retirement.
So there it is—no meltdown, no crisis. But I'd sure like to see that movie.