With endless headlines and discussion about the impending labor shortages created by retiring baby boomers, it’s not surprising that skill gaps and a lack of leadership are keeping corporate executives up at night. According to the Ken Blanchard Companies’ annual corporate issues survey, executives said there is a skills gap for corporate leadership positions, as well as trained talent at all levels. This might be fueled by continuing competitive pressures, growth and expansion objectives, and concerns over retirement and the need to compete for talent, the survey states.
More than 800 training and development professionals responded to the fourth-annual corporate issues survey, which polled a wide range of companies and industries. In total, 2,200 individuals have participated in the survey over the past four years. They were asked these questions:
- What are your organization’s top management challenges?
- What are your organization’s top employee development challenges?
- What are your organization’s top business challenges?
According to the survey, skill gaps have increased as a problem over the past four years. This year, 43 percent of respondents included skill gaps in the top three business challenges, compared to 34 percent in 2003. Respondents said that retooling and reskilling their workforce to meet escalating customer demands and creating management and executive bench strength are key issues.
Competitive pressure remained the number-one business challenge. However, it declined by 11 percent this year. For the first time respondents cited growth and expansion as major concerns. Respondents said their organizations continue to struggle with the economy, funding and budgets. Yet cost reductions seem to weigh less heavily than past years, the survey found.
According to respondents, top management challenges center around developing potential leaders, selecting and retaining key talent and creating an engaged workforce. More respondents recognized the importance this year over prior years of driving innovation, and results support that concerns about leadership skills gaps left by retirement of baby boomers and the need to compete for talent weigh on organizations around the globe.
The survey also found that top management challenges and top employee development challenges include:
- Developing potential leaders, which is up 5 percent over the last two years.
- Selecting and retaining key talent, which is up 4 percent from 2005.
- Improving managerial and supervisory skills, which is up 5 percent from the last two years.
- Creating an engaged workforce, which is up 5 percent from the last two years.
- Succession planning, which is up 8 percent since last year, though down from 2003.
- Developing interpersonal skills, which jumped up 11 percent from the prior year to become the second most important employee development challenge.
Customer relationship skills remained the number-three challenge, and team-building skills ranked as the fourth greatest employee-development challenge. Respondents were asked where they expect to focus their time, energy and budgets with regard to employee development. The top five priorities in order of importance are leadership development, managerial development, supervisory development, coaching skills for leaders and communications skills.
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