Within our 2019 Predictions for Industry and Global Chains, we included a prediction that needs for supply chain talent recruitment, development and retention would reach alarming stages, possibly impacting ongoing business functional initiatives.

With that context, Supply Chain Matters took special notice to a recent blog from Canadian based Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting; Are Supply Chain Organizations Neglecting Their Gen X Talent? The blog refers to a Harvard Business Review Talent Management tract article: Are Companies About to Have a Gen X Retention Problem?

Gen X’ers are generally defined as being born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s – after the termed baby boomers, but before millennials. As the Argentus blog observes: “They also came of age with a reputation for being “unambitious” – a reputation that’s just as outdated as some of the most famous slacker movies (classic though those movies may be).Supply Chain management talent

The Argentus blog introduces the concern as:

Much attention has been given to millennial employees over the years –what attracts them, what causes them to stay in a role, how to manage them differently than other generations of employees. It was a hot topic of discussion at the recent SCMA National Conference. At the same time, more baby boomers are beginning to retire. These two generations represent the back and front end of the Supply Chain industry’s talent pipeline, and they’ve been the industry’s focus. But of course, the demographic picture is broader and more nuanced than just these two generations.”

The cited HBR article references a 2018 survey from some 25,000 business leaders in multi-industry settings.

The data itself points to troubling trends indicating that the majority of Gen X leaders, estimated at 66 percent) had either not been promoted in the past five years, or had only been promoted once, a less frequent rate than either Baby Boomer or Millennial employees. Yet, generally, Gen X employees are assigned broader responsibilities with more direct reports than millennial managers at the same level.  Gen X employees, statistically tend to be more loyal to current employers.

Both the Argentus blog and the HBR research indicate that employers may be neglecting some of their more important talent groups.

There are recommendations related to addressing such needs which include more personalized training and mentorship opportunities for Gen X employees, including professional memberships, networking groups and other opportunities.


Supply Chain Matters Added Perspectives

We found both of these reports to be both insightful, but also quite troubling and concerning.

The HBR report cites a rather critical important observation, namely that Gen X professionals are: “..playing a critical and  overlooked role in bridging the digital divide.” Our interpretation is that such managers are the catalysts for supply chain digital transformational leadership and program management.

We further found the cited data regarding Generation X employees to be worrisome, requiring multi-industry supply chain executive attention. Indeed, such talent represents the core and foundation of tactical, program and technical management.

We join in the voice of Argentus in not stereotyping any generation, but at the same time, flagging concerns and needed actions among multi-industry supply chain management teams.

We agree that there needs to be an added exchange of thoughts and ideas, and encourage our readers to do so, either in the Argentus Recruiting forum, other industry or supply chain professional leadership forums such as ASCM, CSCMP, ISM, or this blog.

We invite and indeed encourage any added guest blog contributions from Gen X managers that share added insights and successful efforts as-well.

Let’s address such concerns and leadership needs as a supply chain management community.


Bob Ferrari

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