The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “Our workforce is too old”

“Our industry’s not glamorous, we’ve got an aging workforce and no one sees the potential long-term problem. How can I persuade them otherwise?” Sharon.

Answer: “Every organisation should be thinking about succession planning for long-term sustainability. It’s fine when you’ve got a “hot” sector: advertising or fashion where there’ll always be a pool of ambitious young people to fill gaps. It’s more difficult when you’re talking about manufacturing, engineering and specialised disciplines. Then a dearth of suitably qualified or potential trainees can mean your business fails.

Your MD has grown older with the workforce and as he does not see himself as aging, in all likelihood he doesn’t see his compatriots as aging either. And the thought of retirement has probably never entered his head so why would anyone else? If he wasn’t so closely associated with them he would be able to see with your eyes. And that’s the key. Start seeing the situation with his eyes.

Think through how and why he set the company up, the strategies he employed then, how he’s developed it over the years, what his aims and ambitions were for the company. How does he see it now and what does he want for the future? When you truly stand in his shoes and understand what drives him now, you’ll know how to approach him about the time-bomb he’s got on his hands.”

Laura Murphy is an organisational development specialist and an AC accredited Executive Coach. To solve your problem email or tweet @WayfinderWoman Names and details have been changed.