You’re not alone. In the past months I’ve interviewed more than a dozen CEOs and other C-level executives to hear their thoughts on the talent shortage dilemma, and it’s clear that the talent strategy agenda is top of mind for executive leaders. It’s no surprise that leaders are increasingly disturbed as they calculate the business impact of a talent shortage on stockholder and stakeholder interests.
As the saying goes, we’re living in a VUCA world. A world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This is especially true when it comes to the fast-changing workforce. More than 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, and Gen Xers and millennials may or may not be ready to pick up where boomer leaders leave off. These younger leaders want many of the things we all do – flexibility, career development, and a sense of belonging to something that matters to them. And they’re not afraid to ask for these things, are they? Beyond that, they perceive that they have choices and move more frequently to get what they want. As reported by Jobvite, “42% of millennials expect to change jobs at least every 1-3 years.”
How will these anticipated trends impact your business?
In my interviews, I heard from C-suite leaders that they are projecting significant challenges to their growth strategy. Why? Everyone agrees that people are an organization’s growth engine, and their discretionary commitment and energy make it possible to outperform the competition, innovate in a global economy and ultimately grow the business. Yet C-suite leaders acknowledge the competitive nature of the marketplace limits their access to the best people.
These leaders are clear: “The competitive advantage today is people!”
How do you attract, develop, engage and retain your people?
Whatever your talent management strategy, be sure your efforts match your vision, mission, values and culture. Make decisions that reflect the best of who you are and be proud to tell the story through your actions, activities and achievements. Here are some ideas to consider:
Develop your employer and leadership brand and promote it. Use this brand in your selection process, and get leaders involved in welcoming new employees and telling the compelling story of your business.
Select people who align with your beliefs. Many organizations are conducting separate culture interviews. If the culture fit isn’t a match, it won’t work for the business or for the employee. Don’t tolerate current employees who are out of alignment with what you aim to accomplish. Remember, you get what you tolerate.
Articulate your values and tie them to behavioral anchors. If you value collaboration in your organization, how would you describe the behavior you’re looking for? Perhaps you would define it as “We respect our colleagues and encourage all employees to have a voice.”
Ask your employees why they stay. You’re too late to the game when you need to ask why they’re leaving.
Invest in your people. From leadership teams to individual contributors, create a culture of learning. Everyone grows together.
Encourage risk taking. Real risk fuels innovation. Don’t forget to reward the risk takers, even if they fail.
In a complex and changing world, leaders and teams need new ways to approach problems with high-impact consequences. We need thinkers and problem solvers; those committed game changers who can make sense of highly complex situations, geographies, cultures, industries and outside influences. As you seek to recruit and retain these employees to meet your most pressing VUCA challenges, be sure to provide a wide range of real world opportunities for them to hone these critical skills that will only become more necessary on the path ahead.