Upskill or die.
How to overcome the talent shortage.
Welcome to the 108 (!) people who have joined us since the last edition!
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A big thank you goes out to people sharing this newsletter - since I’ve added way over 100 people since last week I know there has been sharing going on but I can’t see who has shared it - but thanks anyway!
That said - let’s get into it.
We touched on it last week - as long as there is a shortage of people in certain areas, the people in those areas will have a big impact on how we structure our organizations. That is, we do what we have to do to attract those people to us. It is what it is, but will it always be that way? Would it be possible to overcome the talent shortage? Is there anything we can do to alleviate it?
Korn Ferry estimates that the global talent shortage could reach 85.2 million people by 2030. If we do nothing about it, and if robots have not taken our jobs by then, Korn Ferry calculates that an estimated $8.5 trillion in revenue could be lost.
Whether that's true or not is probably still up for debate, but it's a bleak future they paint.
I have been urged to always have multiple sources, so...
Manpower points out in its study, nicely named the Talent Shortage Survey, that there is a shortage of talent and that it will most likely increase.
We should always keep in mind that these two players are just that, players who want to fill the gap created by the shortage. To some extent, they are pursuing their own agenda in doing so. But there are also some truths associated with this, which I think all of us feel right now.
One simple reason why there is a talent shortage is that there are not enough of us. Or to put it more bluntly, we do not make enough babies.
And as baby boomers retire from the workforce, there is a shortage of people willing to take the jobs they leave behind.
So how do we solve this problem? By making more babies, of course!
Today's article is a practical guide on how you can do that.
Well, no, not really.
But there are things we can do from the perspective of HR to make up for the lack of talent.
Is upskill the way to go?
If you have been around for a while, you may recall that I am a fan of the saying "hire for attitude, train for skills." And while I still cling to it like a monkey on a swing, as always, there are some nuances. One of the most important is that we need to do a better job of training and, in some cases, retraining our employees.
So how can we do that? There are potentially several ways but here’s how we did it in one project I was involved in. It was a huge company and a huge project, and I was just a small, small part of the change.
We started with an inventory of everyone's current skills and mapped them to the skills and criteria that the company felt would be needed in the future. Then we created learning paths to close the skills gap. Sounds simple, right? Well, it was not.
This is a very condensed version of a multi-year project.
This kind of inventory and mapping is difficult and complex.
How do you capture all the nuances of what a person knows?
How do you translate that into future needs?
How do you deal with those who do not fit into the future organization?
How do you know what the future will require?
Will it be worth the investment?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself if you find yourself in this situation. So ideally, you do not want to end up in this situation. And that requires effort and an awareness of how to move your business forward. How to stay relevant.
Sure, you can take on major initiatives like this, and from what I have heard, it's worked out pretty well for the organization that's doing it. But ideally, your organization is continually working to evolve itself, to learn, and educate its employees on an almost daily basis.
So how on EARTH do you do that?
If you ask me (and since this is my newsletter, after all, I can answer my own questions), part of the answer is that you do a fantastic job of talent management. Huh?
Talent management? Hear me out on this one.
By having your managers continually go through your teams and review their skills and deficiencies, you can hire what you are missing. Sounds obvious, but in reality, it's not.
Most people hire more of the same when they hire people, and they do not take into account that by hiring WAY more experienced people on their team, they can hopefully make their entire team more skilled in the long run.
Most companies and managers are reluctant to hire people who are more skilled than they are or who they have in their company. Part of it is probably Dunning Kreuger, we do not know what we do not know so it's hard to hire people with more knowledge than ourselves, but part of it is also good old politics and in some cases budget constraints. Constraints in the form of not having enough money to pay these highly skilled people, but also sometimes in the form of unwillingness to pay someone that much, maybe even more than you make as a manager.
You opt for someone with less experience and a smaller pay check but pay more in the long run because they bring less value to the team on a day-to-day basis and from a learning perspective.
Does it meet all of your needs for employee training? No, there is obviously a need for formal training, but my impression is that most of us are pretty good at that aspect of training. Less so of thinking holistically about how to upskill teams.
But if you are consistent in your talent management, you have solved part of the "we want to stay relevant" puzzle, and you will not have to do massive upskilling and reskilling projects later.
And simply hiring an employee does not solve the problems you may have. For these (often high-level) employees to be successful, they need to feel welcome and feel like they belong, that they have a mission to make a difference, etc. But that's a newsletter for another day.
In summary, if you lack the skills you need to achieve the company's goals, you can address the future talent shortage. Start planning your talent management more thoroughly now and find out what is needed in your teams and hire new people.
That way, you'll be better able to continually train your teams, let employees grow into their roles, and be less likely to end up with a huge backlog of unfilled positions in 2030.