Category Archives: Generational/Inclusion

4 Practices to Hack Your Experience Gap


One of the biggest challenges for professionals is gaining the experience needed to land the next position in their career. This mirrors one of the biggest challenges for companies – a pipeline of experienced professionals ready for the leadership positions they are hired into.  A recent Deloitte study* confirms this ‘readiness gap’, with twenty-eight percent of executives rating their leadership pipelines as weak or very weak.  Fifty-six percent of executives surveyed report that their companies are not ready to meet leadership needs.  

This crisis of ill-prepared leadership often stems from a lack of focus on identifying and cultivating your leadership pipeline – potential leadership talent who are being equipped to run your business in the future. In this situation, your company becomes vulnerable to lagging financial performance and competitiveness over time.  Your current actions are likely contributing negatively to the gap. Build intentional experience-based development into your leadership development protocol, accelerating the readiness and value of your emerging leadership talent.

Hack the Experience Gap 

You can ‘hack the experience gap’ in your company with the four practices described below:

  • Beyond succession planning – Identifying talent succession is just one step in your process.  For each role in your succession plan, map the alternate career paths successfully leading into each role. Identify the experience and skills that needs to be gained from each role in order to prepare talent for succeeding roles. Avoid simply throwing people in to a job to see if they can swim.    
  • Start early in identifying talent and guiding experiences – If your succession plan or talent management process only focuses on more senior level positions, you’re missing an opportunity.  To have prepared senior leaders, development begins early and over the course of their careers. Identify high potential talent early on and incorporate experience building opportunities into their career paths. Your up-and-coming millennials expect to know that there’s opportunity for them to advance.  If they’re unsure, or opportunities are limited, they’re more likely to search for greener pastures.
  • Utilize a variety of methods for growing experience – Experience is built over time and can be achieved through a variety of sources.  You may not have the luxury of open positions to move high potential talent into as timely as would be ideal.  Yet, you need to continue development and continue to offer new challenges.  Following are some alternative approaches I suggest to clients.
    • Special projects — Small task groups are often initiated to help implement important company or department initiatives. Recommend employees to lead or to be part of the project team.  When I worked for GE, special projects often targeted reducing costs, or improving process quality or efficiency.
    • Company service projects—Many companies support their communities by sponsoring volunteer projects with local non-profits. These may be short term, such as one-day fixer uppers, or longer term, such as a reading program with a local school. These are great opportunities for employees to develop skills by joining the planning committee or working with teams at an event. 
    • Employee resource groups—Companies sponsor these groups as resources for personal career development and employee engagement. Employees can gain experience and develop leadership skills by serving as an officer, chair, or member of a standing committee or event committee.
    • Nonprofit organizations and professional associations—Nonprofits and professional associations often need people with a variety of skills to serve on boards or as volunteers. Partner with local non-profits and recommend your emerging talent to serve with them. 
  • Encourage employees to share ownership – The responsibility to hack the experience gap does not fall solely on the company.  Employees share ownership in this goal.  However, many professionals I work with don’t know how to solve their personal experience gap.   As professionals determine their career goals, they should evaluate the experience needed to progress. Then, working with their manager, HR professional and mentor, map out a plan using a variety of sources to get the experience they need. The company must set the stage for this to work.  Work with leaders and HR professionals to create a culture that is open to employees planning and discussing their career goals and needs. Be receptive to employees stepping up with interest in the alternative experience approaches noted above. Encourage employees to engage in this partnership.

Look for places in your organization where the experience gap exists. Where are the opportunities in your process? Choose a starting point and begin putting these strategies to work to hack your experience gap.

Where are the opportunities in your process? Choose a starting point and begin putting these strategies to work to hack your experience gap.

Choose a starting point and begin putting these strategies to work to hack your experience gap.

And if your particular experience gap is retaining millennial talent, I have created a special update to help you. You can download it here.

*2016 Global Human Capital Trends Report by Deloitte Consulting

7 Steps You Can Take Now to Retain Millennial Talent

“I work to live.”  You’ve probably heard that phrase uttered among millennials you know.  For this generation, working is a means to be able to live the lifestyle they want, which means, they will move to the job that supports their lifestyle.

Big jobs and big pay are lesser priorities for many in this generation.  In one of my recent training workshops, a couple of the millennials reiterated that point, noting that they are more concerned with quality of life, having the time to spend with family, friends, and other interests.  So, if the balance is not working well for them, many may be inclined to look elsewhere.

Millennials also seek a variety of experiences. Rather than stay with the same company, basically doing the same kind of work, they seek new experiences in a new environment. They seek experiences that align with their interests, and keep their day-to-day fresh and interesting. They sometimes see these moves as helping them get to these new experiences much faster than ‘doing their time’ in one company.

Retaining millennial talent is one of the toughest challenges companies face. With the more frequent mobility of this generation, it seems companies are constantly hiring to fill the gaps in not only their broader workforce, but more importantly in their leadership pipeline.  With this revolving door like culture, companies risk growing a talent base that knows the business and is prepared to grow the company in the future.

Many companies try to address this challenge haphazardly, trying one thing here and another thing there, in an attempt to see what sticks. Their results are about as good as their approach – disappointing.

Following are 7 steps you can take now to make your workplace one where Millennial employees can say they ‘like to work and feel valued.”

  1. Connect employees to your purpose – What does your organization stand for? Is your purpose to authentically serve customers or is more focus given to serving the bottom line, at all costs? Ensure your mission and values authentically connect to serving customers, and that employees have an understanding of the importance of their role in fulfilling your purpose.
  1. Develop flexible work options – Millennials demand more flexibility in their work options. Work/life balance is important for a number of reasons. In addition to family responsibilities, millennials tend to be very engaged in serving their communities.  Their familiarity with technology also creates an expectation that they can and should be trusted to connect from anywhere.  Be creative in designing options that provide reasonable flexibility in work hours and work location, while honoring the needs of both the business and your employees.
  1. Provide tools to help employees work more productively – The most important expectation from your employees is that they get the job done and take care of customers. Expecting employees to work extended hours or to be connected on their personal time does not mean that more work is getting done.  Provide tools to help employees work smarter when they’re on the clock. Beef up your technology. Get rid of the bureaucracy by eliminating procedures and policies that slow things down.
  1. Create a ‘community’ environment – Though millennials are tied closely to their technology, they are very social beings. They thrive in an environment where they can connect on a more personal level with people across the organization.    Create an environment where informal connections can occur, and where teams can work more collaboratively.
  1. Offer opportunities to develop and grow – Millennials are motivated by new experiences that keep their work interesting and help them develop new skills. Offer professional development programs for employees at all levels of the company. Encourage formal and informal mentoring partnerships. And, develop a structure for career progression that balances being in a role long enough to gain solid experience and make an impact, without employees feeling ‘stuck’.
  1. Provide opportunities to give back – Companies that have a social conscience and are engaged in giving back in their communities tend to get more respect from millennials. Offer a variety of opportunities for employees to get involved on your behalf, either through company sponsored service events, or on an individual level.
  1. Lead authentically – Creating a culture where employees are inspired to commit requires authentic leadership. Truly care for your employees’ well-being so that partnerships are formed at all levels of the organization in building a culture where ‘employees like to work and feel valued.’

Though millennials are not likely to work for your company for the next 20 years, these strategies will help you influence their loyalty and improve your overall retention.  Involve millennials in generating ideas to customize these strategies for the talent currently within your organization and for the talent you’re looking to attract. The investment in these ideas is small compared to the benefits you’ll experience as a result.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or to schedule a free, no obligation talent management strategy session, or individual career coaching strategy session, at



Your Career Empowerment Coach

Author: FuelForward: Discover Proven Practices to Fuel Your Career Forward

Contributing Author: Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You’ll Love (published by Association for Talent Development)       Visit Vivian’s Blog

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