A few years ago, I consulted for a Fortune 500 company on young professional development. The CEO publicly proclaimed that this incoming talent represented the future of the organization, and that nurturing it was his top priority. He put his money where his mouth was. That company spent millions of dollars creating a young professional training program that was the envy of its competitors.
The fancy training program may have impressed the young professionals when they walked through the door, but it was another story once they started their jobs and had a chance to experience the company’s culture day in and day out. The young employees complained bitterly about languishing in dead-end positions with minimal guidance for years on end. The initial bells and whistles weren’t enough to hold them. Bored and frustrated, many resigned.
Earlier in the summer, I attended the Deloitte University OnTalent Roundtable with a group of top HR executives, and John Seely Brown put his finger on exactly what I’d witnessed in that Fortune 500 company. He called it the Dilbert Paradox. For more on this unfortunate phenomenon and what we can do about it, check out my Culture Beat column on the AMEX Open Forum.