MBA Research

Trend #7: Professional Development Challenges

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community, we asked them to identify business trends impacting the workplace. One of the most frequently identified trends: professional-development challenges.

Workplace Implications

The five generations of employees that will be in the workplace by 2020 have different values and work ethics. Knowing how to engage each of the generations is a challenge for supervisors, managers, and human resources management. The various generations will require different types of professional development and workplace assistance. As an example, the Baby Boomer generation may need programs dealing with disability management, mental health and wellness issues, and succession planning.

Younger generations move from one company to the next to advance in their careers. This, in effect, eliminates the traditional career ladder. By job jumping, the younger generations do not have the opportunity to develop deep, strong, domain-specific experiences with a company. Although many Baby Boomers do not have the technology skills that are now required of incoming workers, they do have a deeper knowledge base than younger generations, and businesses do not want to lose that.

These factors make it difficult for companies to determine who to develop as leaders and what professional development to offer and to invest in. They also create a leadership gap for companies when retirements do occur.

Classroom Implications

In the workplace, different generations bring different talents to the table, and students should value those differences. Students need to be open to opportunities for bi-directional mentoring in the workplace. Teachers should stress that businesses usually have a reason for the way that processes and procedures are carried out. Before recommending changes, students should understand why things are done the way they are rather than assuming that things are being done incorrectly if the latest technology isn’t involved. Once they have a clear understanding of the “why” behind processes and procedures, then they should proceed to make recommendations that benefit the company.