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Thresholds

by Donna Bennett
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October 2010 Archives

Passing the Baton


As organizations face a huge loss of talented baby boom workers, the need to capture corporate knowledge prior to that loss not only presents a great challenge, but is also a necessity for those who replace the boomers.

The baton must be passed, but not as of old, as it's no longer a simple matter of packing one's personal belongings and moving out of an occupied space. Human Resources across organizations are now asked to prepare succession plans - plans that in the past have been equated more to family-owned businesses. It's a way to ensure that sources of information found in best practices, lessons learned, and personal wisdom, are not lost.

Finding ways to pass the organizational baton is mainly charged to Human Resources, but what about individual batons? Teams, units, and departments are all made up of individuals who hold unique gifts apart from their job descriptions. These too can be lost, if not held as equally important. So, how about you? What will your personal "baton-passing" consist of? What combination of knowledge, wisdom, experience, and talents - beyond your job description - can you pass on to those who follow you? What sets you apart from your peers or colleagues? In large part, it is likely something innate in you. Something that if asked, you may wonder, "Doesn't everyone do that?"

Think of it as 'paying it forward." What do you hope others will know how to do? Will find important to do? Will remember to do? Are you someone who readily offers an unsolicited compliment? Or steps in to lighten another's load without being asked? Do you bring levity during times of tension, or give recognition or gratitude when unexpected? Do you have a talent for giving difficult feedback or hard news in a caring, constructive manner? Are you a good listener? Do people feel heard and understood by you? Are honesty and integrity values you hope will always be on people's radar? What do you want to include on your list?

Like many boomers, you may wonder what you will do or what you will have to offer in the time following your primary career. As you consider
how you will pass your personal baton, your thoughts may also lead to what you will want on your next list: that is, the baton you will pass following your current transition. As you think in these terms, it may help you narrow your choices to the talents, experience, and new learning you want most to have carried forward.

Rather than passively moving on to your next phase, this approach offers an intentional and proactive way to have a rich experience, while also giving you time to reflect on how you will pass the baton to those who follow in your post-boomer footsteps.