“Thanks. I’m happy where I am.”

Guess what contributes to the management talent shortage? Employees don’t WANT to be managers.

Employers are no longer counting on a nice, full pipeline of managerial talent waiting for the chance to move onto the executive floor.   There’s a talent shortage, right?

Most of that time, we blame that shortage on demographics and the global war for talent. But muyabe there is more to it. An eye-opening recent survey suggests that part of the problem may be that not enough people want to be at the top of the heap.

Portrait of men and a woman in the office at a computerThe shine seems to have gone off the idea of a management career in general.

The survey found that the great majority of workers do not aspire to leadership roles. That‘s right, do NOT.   Taken in the U.S. by Harris for CareerBuilder and covering over 3,600 workers 18 and over, the survey found just one third (34%) of workers aspire to leadership positions, with only 7% aiming for senior or C-level management.

Why? Well, 52% say they are happy with their current job and 34% are not prepared to mess with the work-life balance they have achieved. Another 17% feel they lack the education to become a manager.

Perhaps Horatio Alger has been dead too long. Rags-to-riches just isn’t sexy anymore.

Having such a high percentage of employees disengaged suggests a need for new strategies from both employers and recruiting professionals.

Employers, if they want to encourage workers to seek more responsibility, need to actively promote it.   They need to implement an in-house attitude and communication based on the benefits and personal rewards of qualifying for, and winning, promotion.

You don’t want to leave the pipeline to only the extroverted and upwardly motivated.   You need to instill some of that motivation in the “silent ones” where there is going to be solid leadership potential if you can bring it to the surface.

Executive search professionals are normally focused on those who have already qualified for leadership. However, given the apparently declining respect for managerial positions, it would be in their interests also to pro-actively groom new generations of leaders.

Tactics might include publicity campaigns for lower level jobs that appeal to a desire to improve and differentiate.

A more wide-spread campaign would address the mistrust left by the years of financial stress. It would address any false perceptions of management and address the issues of work-life balance, job satisfaction, and any misconceptions about educational requirements.

A long-term strategy, certainly. But then, this isn’t a short-term problem.

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