With the millennial generation making a significant portion of the workforce today, many organizations face the challenge of evolving leadership structures within them. In order to keep up with the changing skill set within their respective talent pools, organizations are at the cusp of modifying their leadership structures to support business growth and to properly leverage the talent that is accessible to them. This shift has been further supported by the need within organizations to create a culture that supports employee learning needs and growth. The changing workforce demography comes with its own set of expectations which are not necessarily in sync with the traditionally held values within various organizations.
These shifts in talent demands have led to the creation of certain practices that help organizations sustain their growth stories in spite of significant leadership changes. Some of these are:
The process of re-mentoring
Certain organizations have been successful in understanding the importance of the skill sets the current workforce brings in. And in order to ensure leaders and department heads across the various verticals of the organization benefit from this influx of new talent, these organizations have been successful in creating reverse mentorship program. Under such programs, industry heads and leaders work closely with employees who usually possess a great level of understanding and a certain level of proficiency in certain competency areas. By creating a strong channel of cross-learning within the organization, HR professionals today can enable leaders to learn more from the talent coming in the organization while giving employees an experience to learn and grow within the organization. This also helps in supporting leadership learning needs and ensure that leaders with the certain amount of experience within the company are able to build a holistic skill set.
Lateral leadership structures
The increasing talent mobility within companies now means that employees today get a chance to experience varied business challenges, which in turn grooms them for leadership roles within the company. This has today resulted in many companies having a lateral or a flat leadership model where accountability is shared and varied experience is respected. This change in within the leadership structure has also been a response to the changing talent demands of the workforce. The millennial generation today demands strong leadership position which in turn corresponds to the skills they possess. The traditional leadership succession layers have, as a result, evolved significantly into a more lateral structure. HR professionals here have a crucial role to play as such changes often create unnecessary chaos within the organization due to the creation of multiple leadership roles. Balancing the need of accommodating leadership expectations with business efficiency becomes key here. One should avoid the temptation of creating multiple leadership layers in order to accommodate growing talent expectations.
Parallel leadership programs
Besides the above mentioned points, the changing workforce has led to organizations also developing parallel leadership structures. As a way to respond to talent demands, some organizations today have given great importance towards cultivating thought leadership within organizations. Parallel to the existing hierarchies, many HR professionals have successfully executed programs which identify thought leaders across various levels of the organization and give them the opportunity to become thought leaders within their respective domains. This helps organizations to leverage the talent potential of their workforce while giving employees a space to influence business decisions.
Amidst these evolving leadership structures, HR today has two key roles to play. Firstly with the changing talent need, it's crucial today for HR professionals to bring in proactive thinking to understand the talent trends better and to modify leadership roles accordingly, while at the same time maintaining its efficiency. Thus, it becomes crucial for HR professionals to play a balancing role when it comes to the curation of leadership roles, to balance talent and experience and between the traditional hierarchies and flat leadership models. Secondly, these changes within the leadership layers of the organization result in creation of emotional stress within young leaders. Therefore the responsibility of ensuring leadership structures are sustainable in the impact that they create falls on the shoulders of HR professionals. HR has to create the necessary mandate to build strong leadership within the company.