Across America, organizations both large and small are facing the same critical challenge. They have to find and retaining the best talent, particularly for tomorrow's leadership positions. But in many cases, that talent simply isn't out there.
New research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation is just the latest in series of warnings that competition for talented managers is set to get even tougher as baby boomers quit the workforce, leaving gaping management holes behind them.
The study, conducted with 526 C-Suite executives, reveals that fully three-quarters of them - regardless of size, location or industry - now view succession planning as their most significant challenge for the future.
Around seven out of ten said the next most pressing problems were providing leaders with the skills they need to be successful and recruiting, selecting and retaining talented employees.
The findings reinforce work by The Conference Board published earlier this year which found that finding qualified managerial talent and management succession had become the dominant people issues for American CEOs, replacing the cost of healthcare as their biggest headache.
And is isn't only at the senior level that organizations are experiencing a talent crisis. A May 2007 survey of 750 business by talent management consultancy Bersin & Associates found that more than half are suffering a critical shortage of middle managers, too, something that will have knock-on effects as the talent pipeline starts to dry up.
Wayne Cascio, chairman of the Board for the SHRM Foundation said that the shortage of skilled executives who are being groomed to succeed existing ones could threaten the ability of many firms to achieve their long-term strategic objectives.
"This is a wake-up call for every organization, regardless of size or type of business," he said.
Yet despite the seriousness of the situation, it seems that many C-suite executives still do not feel confident that their companies have a plan to address these human capital challenges, particularly among smaller companies.
"Top executives are beginning to realize the right people are not in the pipeline to fill vacancies left by retiring Baby-Boomers," Cascio added.
"But sadly, too few organizations have developed succession plans or invested in fostering the talent they need for tomorrow."