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Feature: Mentoring Can Bridge the Retirement Brain Drain


Executive meetingRene Petrin, founder of Management Mentors, explores how mentoring schemes can help companies retain the years of knowledge so often lost with retirement.

A little noticed trend is afoot that will greatly affect the continued success of our country’s businesses – the retirement of the baby boom generation.

By 2010, workers, senior managers, and senior executives will begin exiting the workforce for good. With them, they will take the experience and practical knowledge that has built and sustained some of our country’s most successful companies.

The impact of this exodus is still largely unknown, because so many benefits of good management are intangible. But what we do know is that the composition of senior staff is on the verge of significant change. The challenge facing companies today is how to most effectively prepare the next generation of leaders to continue the successful growth of tomorrow’s corporations.

One of the most significant and empowering tools available to face this challenge is mentoring.

Transferring knowledge
Mentoring programmes can be designed to facilitate senior staff work with junior staff to familiarise them with the company culture, politic structure, and hierarchy etc. However they can also be designed to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, practical experience, and grassroots know-how from senior level individuals to mid-level career professionals. The primary goal of a mentoring programme of this nature is to prepare mid-level managers and executives to move successfully into senior-level positions.

Although many mid-level professionals believe that they already possess the knowledge to advance to a senior level, there is a vast difference between the perspectives and approaches of the different levels. Mid-level professionals may just focus primarily on effective problem solving for the people they manage, and the profitability of the divisions they run. Whereas the focus of senior executives is on the evolution of the company, ensuring enterprise-wide profitability and strategies for gaining or retaining competitive advantage within their market space. While mid-level professionals contribute to all of the goals, they may rarely possess the perspective to develop the high-level planning that will ultimately drive the company to attain it’s goals.

A formal, well-developed mentoring programme of this nature provides mid-level executives with insights into the nuance strategic planning, teaches them to see the big picture by bringing the big picture into focus for them, and provides expert counsel as they prepare themselves for challenges of ever increasing magnitude.

It is important to remember that we are not talking about helping a handful of individuals get promoted. We are talking about preparing the business and thought leaders of tomorrow to successfully and confidently carry the mantle of leadership forward.

As our most seasoned experts, counselors, and confidants prepare for departure, businesses must prepare to move on without them and to do so successfully, they must act now to transfer the vast knowledge these professionals possess to the next generation of leaders, before it’s too late.

Mentoring is one of the most powerful and cost effective strategies in preparing your future leaders for the challenges of tomorrow. Don’t let the value of your experienced senior managers leave with them!


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