Baby Boomer Brain Drain – Prepare to Transition

Monday, January 4 2016
FailToPlanImagine you are typing away on your laptop. It’s the eleventh hour and you’re trying to get your proposal submitted before the deadline. Your computer has been acting up lately and you know it’s nearly time to upgrade, you just need to find the time to do a little research and shopping. Quite honestly, every time the hourglass spins on the screen, it makes you nervous. You have years of work stored on this laptop and you know you should be backing up these files. But, you’ve been so busy trying to keep up with demands, you don’t have time to worry about that now.

Then it happens. Your computer heaves an electronic sigh and the screen flashes. You panic and hit some keys on the keyboard. It’s no use. Your hard drive is fried and your files are gone. Without having backup copies, you are starting from scratch. All of your hard work and experience is lost.

This is what it might feel like if the Baby Boomer brain drain is not managed effectively.

As Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 – 1964) age, companies are faced with a dilemma about how to ensure their long-term success and capture the knowledge, experience and relationships from the Baby Boomers.

Effective coaching will make a positive difference. There are four key elements of coaching: commitment, guidance, support and accountability. Consider these questions about each element:


  • Have you had career discussion with your direct reports about their retirement plans?
  • Do you have a good succession plan for yourself and your direct reports?
  • What are the expectations for sharing the knowledge, experience and relationships with other members of the team? Is it happening? Sharing can be difficult; as individuals may hesitate to develop in others the assets that make them feel valuable and secure. Passing on influential relationships is critical to future success.  Are you walking the talk in this regard?
  • When does the leader need to step down and let a younger person lead? This is especially applicable in partnerships.


  • How do you help younger generations lead Baby Boomers to ensure commitment and accountability? An external coach can help.
  • Are the Baby boomer leaders in your organization effectively coaching those from other generations to ensure sustainability of the team?


  • Do you know what support is needed to ensure an effective transition?
  • Have you analyzed the impact on the business of retiring Baby Boomers?
  • What is the organization doing to retain younger generations who may leave if they are not feeling valued? Will they take the knowledge that the Baby Boomers have shared to another organization?


  • How do you plan to ensure that the mutually agreed upon commitments about commitment, guidance and support are being implemented?
  • Are you committed to regular coaching to find out how individuals are doing and what concerns they may have?  Concerns left unattended can lead to demotivation.

As leaders, you have the power to manage the Baby Boomer brain drain. If you don’t have positive answers and a plan then take control now. Over the next few years a whole generation will retire. Don’t be left with work to do and no one properly equipped and trained to do it.