The century of the talent gap. That is what a Harvard research team called the current time frame in their study back in 2018. What we miss most today is not oil, natural gas, or even microchips. Instead, the most deficient element of our environment is talent. Or, as I love to say – what we are missing most is what we still cannot manage well.
In late 2021, more than 77 000 articles (a quick check at Google showed it) on how economies will struggle through the lack of talented people. Analysts talk so much about how e cannot find great talent that many forget what it is to build your skill. What HR departments have been talking about for many years is now hitting the business. And guess what? The company is unprepared and stressed about what is happening and how to deal with the situation. Some of you may say that that is not true, and some companies have already prepared to meet that challenge. And you want to be far from the truth. But what many companies. Even those who “have prepared” are still struggling to keep existing people and offer the new ones a challenging and exciting environment that can make them loyal employees and faithful followers of the company mission.
Employer brands rose from one of these, thinkings that we need something unique to attract people into our environment. But from plans and talks to execution, so many things can change. Even the best experts in the world nor we can guarantee that a good idea or a development plan can be executed with the same precise approach as it was created, presented, or admired by the senior leadership team in the company.
Often companies fall into the trap of writing great plans and then creating poor execution for these same plans. Or even worse – companies’ teams make grand plans for development or growth – stressing more on the “talents” in the company and setting on a second plan for everyone else.
Sounds familiar? Well, you are not alone. Seventy-one percent of the people in global research conducted by Gallup in more than 35 countries prove the same. In being successful, people share that companies have to look in different directions if they want to keep people with them.
This group of people includes everyone. And focusing on only part of it can’t be far from a mistake. As said before, permanent hires are a large group of people. First, you have those you call talents, then those who take the company on their shoulders – performing fully against the personnel standards. And by the way, they create space for the talents to grow and work toward ensuring company sustainability in time. And you also have a group of people who need to meet your current standards. The company leadership should decide how to act for these three groups. Carrying the same way for everyone is like using the same tool to fix different issues at your home. Permanent hires are those who win your results; they make the company work. With them is your most vital relationship. And being not interested in what is happening with those people can mean the death of the company. Permanent hires are already with the company, and building an approach toward each group can win the company in the long run, pleasing results. With individualized methods, learning paths, and feedback, these people are the force that boosts company results and changes the environment for good.
Talking about talents and how they can be brought into the company has become popular. And some years ago, the phrase “employer branding” rose from the old paradigms. While companies and leadership teams have evolved in their understanding of employer branding, it has become routine for leaders to compare who they have now to those who work in other companies or areas. But talent is not only outside the organization. And high performing employees are not always talented. With that in mind, leadership teams should re-evaluate talent understanding. On-demand talent is the talent we see everywhere around us. These people can do a much larger job and deal with a much larger set of responsibilities on a different level. And with that understanding, the leader’s job is to find those on-demand talents and start working with them to ensure company results continuity. Turning to the on-demand talent must be done with a clear strategy of what we want, how we want to see results achieved, and who we want to see achieving these results as a professional and personal profile. Predefining these pillars is a prerequisite for future success in a balanced way.
Companies often invest in hiring people and then start neglecting people’s development. So in time, all the skills and knowledge become outdated, but at the same time, no one does anything to upgrade them further so that they are still answering the new demands of the environment. And here starts the blaming part – the company blames the employees that they do not “have growth potential,” and employees blame the company with phrases like “there are no opportunities for advancement” or “there are no options for learning.” Does this sound familiar? If yes, then you are not alone. Thirty-two percent of the companies in a survey conducted by two professors at INSEAD back in 2019 used similar phrases. So it is essential that leaders and companies all provide opportunities for upskilling employees. But, at the same time, the most challenging part of this process is identifying what the employee needs.
The upskilling process, in other words, should be a well-managed strategy based on the needs of the company and the employee’s capabilities to learn. Then only the upskilling process will be successful. All other scenarios are just a waste of time and stress.
There is no panacea for transforming the digital skills set in any company. However, leaders should carefully evaluate the situation and find their best scenario in a balanced way to move through the digital transformation process in their companies, balancing in-house capabilities development and buying some skills from the outside world. The more balanced this strategy is, the better and less stressful the results from the process will be.