I’m not sure how many people are aware that our working world is about to experience a major shift. In the U.S. by 2025, 75% of the workforce will come from the Millennial generation. (The U.S. Department of Labor defines the Millennial generation as those born between 1980 and 1998).
For me personally, I feel both dread and delight. Let me start with delight. I am very impressed with my Millennial client’s ability to analyze and synthesize data. I respect their willingness to challenge the “status quo”. I personally like their incessant curiosity about things that “are outside of the scope of their job”. In fact, for me, they are a joy to work with. I am not bothered by their lack of commitment to a job or employer. Rather I understand it. Many Millennials won’t settle for meritocracy because they have seen their Baby Boomer parents lose jobs, benefits and savings in the two recessions experienced so far in this century.
What I dread is the little training, coaching and overall lack of preparedness that many Millennial procurement professionals have for the job description of 2025. My training clients are the lucky ones. They’ve had one line courses, such as the one offered by the IACCM, my in-person training course and one-on-one coaching. And, still many Millennial professionals are completely overwhelmed by the complexity of the contracts they negotiate and manage.
It’s as if an entire segment of the workforce is living with their head in the sand. I’ve found far too many business leaders who act as if there will be a steady transition of the work force—a competent handover of work flow with a smooth transition that reflects the ethos of the current workforce.
WRONG. This leadership transition will not be steady; it will flop over like a boat blown over in a storm. The handover of work will not be competently handled; men and women with 25 or more years of experience will go home with more tribal knowledge in their head than all the good books on the subject put together. And no, the Millennial workforce will not likely share the same ethos as the current workforce. Millennials will change jobs, challenge the “way things get done”, and demand that their voices be heard.
So, what happens when the Millennial generation has taken over the contract negotiation and management leadership positions at your company? What decisions will they make? Will technology save the day allowing companies to “do more with less?” Not at all likely.
Technology Will Leave “the Ugly”
This shift in workforce is happening at the same time that companies are entering into ever more complex agreements to eke out greater market share for themselves. According to Tim Cummins president of the IACCM, “They (study respondents) believe that automation will largely eliminate the need for human activity. . . (According to the IACCM) Technology will change—and enrich—human intervention in the contracting process, rather than replace it.” (2015 IACCM Research Study).
In my view, what will be left as contract negotiation and management after technology automates many parts of the job duties is “the ugly.” That is what one Millennial called what he faces on a daily basis. Long gone are the “easy buys” with the simple procurement language listed on one page attached to the Purchase Order.
Now, he faces negotiating with global behemoths that dominate the service they provide and throw their weight around on contract terms. He must develop bi-lateral scorecards knowing his company cannot collect much of the information he needs to validate the supplier’s scores. And he manages contracts in an automated system that “does not collect the right information.” Hence, his term “the ugly.”
Is Your Organization Ready?
For those of you who’ve read this far please hear my plea for recognition that the Millennial generation will be leading in all areas of our global workforce. Contract negotiation and management will not be spared the take-over. Are the Millennials in your organization ready to lead and deal with “the ugly” on a daily basis? I’d be willing to bet your Millennial workers do not feel ready. You’ve got a couple of more years to prepare them. Will you?