Okay, that title may be a little over the top. So how about “Change Or Become Obsolete”?
The world is changing. So is work. No ‘ah-ha’ statements there. As the pace of change quickens and as technology becomes even more entrenched in life, the implications for work and jobs can be frightening. Consider the following titles from a seemingly endless supply of articles regarding the future of work:
One in three jobs will be taken by software or robots by 2025
We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does
Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
- MIT Technology Review
Since we can’t stop change or the advancement of technology, we’re left with just one option, change ourselves.
For most people, change is difficult, even scary. We’re comfortable where we are. We like our routine. However, if we continue with routine for too long, we may wake up one day and be obsolete.
So we must take steps to avoid our obsoleteness. We must update our skills. Learn new things. And while the following steps may not prevent our job (driverless cars may even make Uber drivers obsolete!) or our industry from disappearing, they may help us accept and even thrive in our always changing, sometimes chaotic world.
Accept the reality: Maybe easier said than done, but accepting the fact that nothing remains the same is the first step to staying relevant. You can’t change the weather and you can’t change the continuous, forward advancement of technology. But you can change how you react to our changing world.
Become a futurist: To thrive in our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – also known as VUCA – world, you need to anticipate the future. You know your world is changing but where are those changes taking you? To predict the future you’ll need to do some research and be open to learning new things. So after binge watching the latest season of House of Cards, read a book about the particular industry you’re in. Google your specific job to see where it might be headed. Stay on top of trends and current events.
Build a network: This is probably the most important step in staying relevant. Surround yourself with interesting individuals. Meet lots of people across a wide range of titles, industries, and backgrounds. People are a great source of knowledge and some of these people will be instrumental in helping you reinvent yourself in a new job or even industry. And the best way to get help? Be helpful yourself! Always be enthusiastic to give away your knowledge and expertise and be eager to connect people in your network.
Be open to advice: That network you’re building? Ask for opinions about how you can remain relevant in today’s workforce. And when they throw out seemingly crazy ideas or offer you constructive criticism, LISTEN! They may see things that you don’t.
Be flexible: Be open to new work, responsibilities, job titles, and even locations if life permits such a move. While you may be a VP in your current role, moving to a new industry may require a small step backward in job title. Remember, the job title isn’t important. It does not define you. It’s the actual work that matters!
Change is hard for most people. But if we remain stagnant, if we stay complacent and choose to ignore the change that’s all around us, the world will pass us by.
British philosopher Alan Watts provides some good wisdom for dealing with change:
“The only way to make sense out of change is to
plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
So look ahead! Jump in! And see where the dance takes you.
Talent Management is complicated. Much like a puzzle, it has many interlocking pieces.
In last week’s blog post, we examined the hiring process, how most organizations still use an outdated and shortsighted hiring process that relies too heavily on past experience and job titles. Of course, it’s impossible to describe the current business climate, the challenges, and the tactics to implementing an integrated Talent Management strategy in a 500-word blog entry. But the general thought was that ability is more than just past job titles. To hire top talent, organizations must look at passion, work ethic, vision, people skills, and the ability to learn new things.
So is that it? Is an effective Talent Management process simply updating job descriptions and seeing if people can hold a pleasant conversation during lunch? Of course not!
So what other business matters must an organization consider as they take a Talent Management approach to their workforce? While there are too many considerations to discuss here, several items (in no particular order), when proactively tackled, can help an organization attract, develop, retain, and utilize top talent.
It’s everything! Corporate culture, which we’ve explored several times in previous blogs, is the single most important driver of business and Talent Management success. Without a healthy corporate culture, no Talent Management program will succeed. Part of building a strong corporate culture is making sure all employees know the mission, the values, and the behaviors that demonstrate those values and then holding people accountable to those values and behaviors. As former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner said in his book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, “ . . . culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.”
People born between 1984 and 2000 are part of the amazing Millennial generation. These workers think differently, are certainly tech-savvy, and want to be part of a change-the-world organization. Effectively integrating these younger workers with previous generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers) is not easy but with deliberate thought, these workers can push your organization to higher levels of success and be a fantastic source of future company leaders. For more thoughts regarding Millennials, check this PCC blog entry.
The world is changing and the pace of that change in quickening. Although change is difficult for most people, being able to embrace organizational (and individual) change is yet another piece of the Talent Management landscape as well as a competitive advantage. J.C. Penney Chairman Mike Ullman said at Fortune’s recent Global Forum, “Only a baby with a wet diaper likes change.” So an integrated Talent Management process is one that, with speed and urgency, embraces organizational change and helps workers flourish in the midst of this change.
While being able to move quickly as an organization has always been an important characteristic, it’s one of the most valuable business strategies a company can implement today. I don’t mean reviewing resumes in six seconds and filling an open position as quickly as possible as mentioned in my previous blog. But making swift decisions and being a nimble organization is surely a competitive advantage. Fast Company editor Robert Safian wrote in the December 2015 issue, “Because the changes are coming so fast, there is a rising premium on our ability to adjust, to be adaptable in new ways. This can be scary for some, but it is also undeniably exciting, and for those prepared to embrace this emerging reality, the possibilities are tantalizing.”
Internal Customer Service & Communication
The level of customer service you can provide externally is only as good as what you deliver internally. And making sure executives, department heads, supervisors, and even frontline workers are communicating across lines will help keep everyone lined up with corporate goals and will also facilitate the internal movement of high potential employees. So break down those internal silos and start promoting cross-corporate partnerships!
Talent Management & Executive Management Alignment
Many HR organizations develop and manage their Talent Management process in response to corporate goals and strategies. Instead, make sure HR and Talent Management are aligned with C-level executives, top-line business objectives, and, of course, the corporate mission statement.
Each of the above business components – and there are additional elements – is complicated and deserves much more thought than one paragraph. The point is this: For Talent Management to be more than buzzwords and to truly be a strategy that drives business success, organizations must address more than just job descriptions and leadership training.
A tall order? Yes! But for the organizations that take the time and effort to confront the above issues along with the Talent Acquisition thoughts posted earlier will grab the best talent and help dispel the Talent Management myth.
They are all myths. While there may be a few organizations that truly hire and develop talent, most organizations still approach hiring and training based on long-used – and shortsighted – recruitment processes.
The term Talent Management has been around for years. Google “What is talent management?” and you’ll get over 48,000,000 items. Hitting a few of the early choices produce information from the early-2000s and I’m confident I could find plenty of articles prior to that.
Generally, these articles define talent management as an integrated HR process that attracts, hires, retains, and utilizes the most talented workers, thus helping the organization enjoy long-term and sustainable business success. Organizations that actually implement that integrated people approach will outperform their competition and enjoy extraordinary, long-lasting performance.
Unfortunately, most organizations are missing some key words in their Talent Management process such as:
Integrated: too often, hiring is simply an event rather than a process.
This hiring process starts with building a brand and culture that
attracts top talent. It also includes a candidate-friendly hiring procedure
and system. Once hired and on-boarded (with New Hire Orientation
being a process as well rather than an event), the employee is now
released to a specific supervisor or department with little consideration
about their professional development. And thoughts about possible
positions in other parts of the organization? That rarely happens.
Talented: “Talent” sometimes comes from outside a company’s industry
and may have a wide range of job titles and experience. Unfortunately,
most Applicant Tracking Systems simply look at those past positions,
kicking out automated “Sorry but thanks for your interest” emails to
some very talented people who happen to come with a unique work
Long-term: most recruiters have numerous positions they are trying
to fill and dozens or even hundreds of applications to review. Being
measured on a “Time To Fill” basis adds to a recruiter’s pressure which
is why, according to TheLadders.com, recruiters spend only six seconds
scanning a resume. Can we really find the best “talent” in six seconds?
Might there be more talented talent that can help the organization years
from now rather than just closing that job req in the shortest time
So why do I say Talent Management is a myth? No, I haven’t done any deep research into the subject. And as stated above, there are surely some organizations that do a great job of finding, developing, and keeping truly talented workers.
But even after all these years of Talent Management services, products, articles, and seminars, I still have too many conversations with frustrated “talent” trying to find a great opportunity. I have also consulted with companies that admit “Talent Management” is not much more than a buzz term. While they want the best talent, they have a hard time getting away from “fill this position asap” and still post traditional job descriptions based on past experience rather than searching for the skills, abilities, competencies, and professional passions necessary to do the job.
There are endless examples of both frustrated recruiters and frustrated job hunters who lament the lack of Talent Management. The following LI post is a great illustration of an exasperated candidate who looked for months to apply his talents in a new industry:
“I applied for many positions where I might not be an exact fit but I
had many of the skills needed. . . .For the position I [finally] accepted,
I stressed that I had 90% of the skills that they were looking for and
that I could learn the other 10% on the job. I also pointed out that at
my previous positions I came in not having every single qualification
and I was still able to excel and be quite productive.”
From personal experience, I can say the best employee I ever hired did not match the stated job description. I needed an Event Planner to design and deliver various corporate events and interviewed a number of people who had great event planning experience. But I ended up hiring Ruth Ann who did not have a formal event planning background. What she did have, though, was a great attitude, the ability to communicate well, and a creativeness that would allow her to create and direct some amazing corporate events. I selected her abilities rather than her experience and she went on to be a rock star in the organization.
I’m not saying past experience is not important. It is. But intellect, passion, work ethic, people skills, and being an agile, continuous learner are also characteristics of talented people and should be considered when trying to hire “talent.”
So how do you define Talent Management? What suggestions do you have for finding talented workers with passion, vision, people skills, and a desire to learn new things?
The title of this entry could be “That’s What I Said” or “ProCulture’s Engagement Philosophy.” However, as much as this is how PCC approaches corporate culture and employee engagement, Jack Welch lays it out better than just about anyone.
According to Welch’s late-2013 musings on LinkedIn titled, “ ‘Rank-and-Yank’? That’s Not How It’s Done”, one of the keys to employee engagement and success is communication. Welch uses the term “exhaustive” to describe the communication level company leaders must exercise to engage employees.
I love strong, descriptive words like “exhaustive” when describing work. In my previous blog regarding culture, I define “Be Focused” on developing a healthy corporate culture as attack your culture, be fanatical about culture, enthusiastically build your culture, aggressively address your culture, and be obsessive about culture-building efforts.
So, exhaustive communication. A great word to describe the type of communication necessary to engage and involve employees, isn’t it?
Do your employees know your corporate values? Your mission statement? They should. Why you exist, what you believe, and how you behave must be common language across your entire organization.
How about corporate goals? Do employees have a clear understanding of your yearly financial demands and objectives? Do they know how the company is tracking throughout the year? Employees are unable to support those goals if they don’t know what they are.
What about individual performance? Are employees receiving clear – Welch uses the term “candor” – and consistent feedback?
Of particular interest is Welch’s approach to under-performing employees, particularly those bottom ten percenters. Welch is well known for getting rid of those bottom performers but he still recognizes these employees as real people who must be treated with dignity and respect in this difficult situation. Welch writes:
“And the bottom 10% is never surprised when the
conversation sometimes turns, after a year of candid
appraisals, to moving on. No, they are not summarily
shown the door. When differentiation is done right,
their manager helps them find their next job with
compassion and respect.”
(This comment brings up another point. Are your managers prepared to help their employees find their next job? A subject worthy of a future blog entry!)
It seems so simple. Communicate with your employees. Unfortunately, this simple concept is difficult to put into practice. How do I know most companies fail to communicate up and down their organization? First, I’ve worked in a poor-communication culture and second, I read about it. And read about it. And read about it. And . . .
Exhaustively communicating with employees, especially those frontline employees slogging through their daily responsibilities, will do more for employee engagement and performance than just about any other business activity. So why doesn’t it happen?
Or lack of it.
Communicating with employees takes time, something most leaders find in short supply. Yet making that time to get all of your employees on the same page can greatly improve morale and performance. Clear communication must be a company expectation and must be demonstrated from the very top of the organization.
How can organizations take effective communication from concept to reality? Click here to read my blog entry titled Steps To Effective Communication.
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.