Can You Quickly Replace The Talent You Have?
A good friend of mine and a real thought leader, Jeff Klingberg, President/CEO of Mountain Stream Group, Inc. (www.mountainstreamgroup.com), and I have been talking about the strategic and expanding problem organizations have around protecting their tribal knowledge and employee talent. Jeff sent me a recent article he read called Talent Creation and the Bottom Line in this month’s issue of Training Magazine (www.traininmag.com). In it, they refer to the fact that the labor force participation rate has shrunk to a 35-year low. They asked the question: are talent deficits to blame? They state that news services are raising red flags with headlines including “Terrifying Oil Skills Shortage Delays Project” and “Global Giants Face a Fight to Lure Local Talent” (Financial Times, July 17, 2014).
These headlines offer sobering realities of the erosion of qualified talent in the U.S. The advantages we gained after World War II, when we became the most dominant economy in the world, started to erode in the 1980’s. Globalization motivated many American businesses to move their low-skill jobs to lower-cost overseas locations. Apprenticeship programs of the 50’s and 60’s, where corporations brought in young people and trained them to fulfill ongoing positions within their organizations, have been phased out. Public schools have pretty much done away with basic skill development programs around carpentry, metal shop, electronics and automotive repair, and have replaced them with academic courses designed for college.
The problem is that the need for those positions in the work place still exists, while colleges are graduating people that can’t meet the needs of the workplace. The article went on to say: “The adoption of advanced technologies in the U.S. upped the demand for higher-skilled talent. As talent deficits grew, U.S. companies began to search the world for high-skilled workers and relocate some of the high-skilled jobs offshore.” “More people need a better education that includes specialized career skills. Businesses need to provide relevant job training and long-term employee talent development because they understand that talent creation is critical to their bottom line and their competitive survival. Unfortunately, beginning in the 1990s, U.S. business culture increasingly focused on short-term results. The pressure for increasing quarterly earnings has led to a focus on cost-cutting and efficiency. To maximize short-term profits, American businesses in general have delayed making critical investments and have actually made huge cuts in spending on human capital development. U.S. business executives now are beginning to discover that today’s competitive global economy is running short on skilled talent. Short-termism is no longer just talent management; it has become talent creation.”
Jeff related a problem to me that one of his clients had. It appears that his client was a manufacturer and they decided to relocate their manufacturing plant from Illinois to Wisconsin, for whatever reason. When they did so, most of the seasoned, trained employees they had didn’t want to leave their homes and move to Wisconsin. When the plant tried to open, they discovered that they had lost a lot of the experienced talent and skill sets that they needed to run their manufacturing operation. The real problem was they weren’t able to find local talent with the skill sets that they needed, and they hadn’t captured the operational processes so they could quickly train and ramp up new hires. In fact, some of that knowledge about how to do things efficiently was lost when they moved. Needless to say, this company didn’t foresee this problem ahead of time so they could take steps to address it.
In a LinkedIn discussion this week on the value of having a sales organization, one of the contributors wrote about his experience: “I once worked with a major corporation that decided to eliminate the inside sales department, and transfer all the inside sales functions (e.g., retention, new sales) to the outside field reps. They justified their decision because they wanted to “save money” and felt the outside field reps could handle the extra duties. The result? Total chaos. After a few months, the outside field reps complained they couldn’t handle the extra duties because it was hurting their abilities to obtain new sales, and they were loaded down with too much administrative work. The end result? The company changed course, and created a new inside sales team. The problem? Most of the inside sales people who used to work for the company, had new jobs elsewhere. More problems? The new inside sales team took months to handle the learning curve and play catch-up.”
Referring back to the Talent Creation article, their last paragraph sums it up for me: “ Talent creation needs to be atop every business agenda on a par with working capital investments. It is the human knowledge behind the technology that creates innovations for business growth and profit. Business investment in current and future talent has become a necessity – not just another option.”
So, how quickly can you replace the talent you have? If you don’t know, then perhaps you might be like the two examples cited above and find out after it’s too late to correct. At least that’s the way I see it, what say you?
About the author:
Chuck Carey is an accomplished sales, marketing and business executive with more than 40 years of experience in the information technology industry. Chuck’s vast knowledge of the problems facing all types of organizations around identifying and capturing corporate knowledge makes him ideally suited to work with and consult in that area. If you would like to see if Chuck can help you and your organization please contact him through this website.