Much has been written about the uncertain times in blood banking, mainly due to the cost-cutting pressures within healthcare and the decrease in blood use. But something else is happening that has caught the attention of America’s Blood Centers’ executives – “en masse” retirements. In the last three months, three ABC member CEOs have turned over. The median age of an ABC member CEO or representative is 61, roughly five years away from retirement. We are facing a wave of baby boomers leaving the industry, which has implications not only to the communities they serve, but also to our association.
In her book “The End of Membership As We Know It,” Sarah Sladek writes that “no-matter-what,” loyalty shown by baby boomers to their trade associations is coming to an end as they exit the workforce, leaving generations X and Y in charge. By 2015, baby boomers (currently ages 49 to 67) will cede the majority of the workforce to generation Y (ages 18 to 31). “It will be the largest shift in human capital in history,” writes Ms. Sladek. She also argues that to remain relevant and survive, associations need to adapt to this shift by catering to the completely different values, interests, needs, and wants of generations X and Y. She adds that, given these values, successful associations will focus their membership outcomes on three primary objectives: the opportunities for their members to lead, learn, and make a difference.
With these changes in mind, ABC has begun developing its strategic plan for the next five years. There is no doubt that “membership” will be redefined, emphasizing demonstrated value and return on investment over the “because we’ve always done it this way” mentality.
But back to the question: What’s your five-year plan? If you are a CEO, retirement is most likely in that plan, but hopefully it also includes grooming those gen Xs and Ys in your organization to take leadership roles, not only within your community and blood center, but also within ABC. We will begin reaching out to the next generation of blood bankers, and offering opportunities to get involved, bring their ideas forward, and take a leading position in our association. Your role is to identify them and encourage them to attend ABC’s meetings and webinars, help identify issues and plan agendas, respond to ABC surveys, and count on ABC staff when they need assistance. We promise that this forward-thinking association will embrace gen X and Y and respond with their needs in mind.
Matt Granato, MBA, Executive Vice President, Operations;firstname.lastname@example.org