May 7, 2013
As Baby Boomers Retire, Young Workers Can Take the Lead
According to reports, 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring each day. With so much knowledge walking out the door, organizations are constantly seeking to fill positions that Baby Boomers are leaving behind. A great number of these positions are far from being entry-level. In fact, many Baby Boomers devoted their entire careers to attain some of these prestigious positions.
This unprecedented Baby Boomer retirement trend could work in your favor because your dreams of being promoted to a big time position could come true a lot sooner than you thought.
One agency that places a high value on developing and advancing young professionals is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Partly due to their leadership’s commitment to developing fresh talent, NASA recently was recognized as “the best place to workâ€ in the federal government.
To learn what you must do to increase your chances of landing an advanced position I turned to one of NASA’s few African-American astronauts, Leland Melvin. As a past NFL player with current responsibilities of being NASA’s senior leader over its world-class education department, Melvin knows: 1) how to dream big and 2) the necessary steps you must take to make your dreams come true.
Here’s the advice he offered if you aspire to replace a highly qualified Baby Boomer:
1. Use basic success principles to counter the “young and inexperiencedâ€ myth.
Some of your coworkers and bosses will often perceive you as being too young to be selected for a top position. But you have to counter this myth by adhering to the basic success principles; such as, consistently showing that you’re dependable and always conducting yourself in a highly professional manner. It’s also imperative that you demonstrate a hard work ethic by going over and beyond to achieve extraordinary results with your tasks.
2. Win support from your boss and learn from Baby Boomers to prevent generational conflict.
This tip is huge because you may encounter episodes of generational conflict from some of your older colleagues. To mitigate this you must win the support of your boss. Set up a meeting with him/her and discuss your aspirations to help the organization achieve its top goals. By having your boss in your corner they can take strategic measures to create a healthy workplace environment for you. Lastly, you should also embrace older workers and gain as much institutional knowledge from them as you can. Your relationships with them can either make or break your potential for quickly climbing up the ladder.
3. Solve a big problem for your boss and make them look good.
It’s vital that you become very familiar with the big problems that your boss is trying to solve. Another good tip is to also figure out which issues that your boss’s boss is trying to fix. One way of achieving this is by simply asking both of them about their top objectives for the company. Once you discover this information, make sure that you position yourself (e.g. volunteer to serve on a special committee related to these issues) to where you can help contribute to these critical objectives.
4. Separate yourself from the pack and change how you see yourself.
The average young person often considers themselves as a “newâ€ or “youngâ€ employee. But although you’re not in a senior position,you can still develop senior ideas.Â Stop thinking like a junior employee and start thinking like a senior leader! Scan a book on leadership to learn how leaders think.
5. Play off of your involvement with community or student-based organizations to demonstrate your leadership experience.
Many students fail to realize the power of becoming an active member of community and student-based organizations. You must apply these experiences to your current role particularly if you’ve had a leadership position within these entities. As you’re working with teams or coworkers use stories, examples, and strategies that highlight the best practices that you’ve learned from your experiences. Show how these lessons can add value to the current problems you’re trying to solve at work.
You can connect with Melvin on Twitter @Astro_Flow to become more inspired.
Antoine Moss, Ph.D., (@2PositiveTweets) is a nationally recognized resource on internships, early career achievement, leadership and motivation. CEO and founder of CEO Style Consulting L.L.C., Moss empowers professionals and organizations to reach their full potential, and serves as speaker, workshop instructor and consultant. The author of Learn to Intern CEO Style, Moss has been a featured expert on outlets including Fox 8 TV News and George Fraser’s 2011 Power Networking Conference.