Thomas Chamorro-Premuzik, author of The Talent Delusion, and Adam Iarsley, HR Director of Red Bull, explain why all attempts to find good employees and develop leadership skills end in nothing.
In 1998, at the end of many years of research on this subject, McKinsey experts announced that a “war for talents” was coming. In subsequent years, they said, the success of organizations will depend on how well they can attract, develop and retain talented employees.
Today in the world this war seems to be lost on all fronts. Of course, many employees stand out by their work and make a decisive contribution to the work of their organizations. But for every employee who does this, there are many who are part-time, inefficient and simply unhappy at work.
Something went wrong?
The heyday of passive job seekers
More people than ever are dissatisfied with their job and are considering other options. In the past few years, LinkedIn estimates this figure somewhere between 45% and 60% of more than 400 million users. Some recruiters believe that the so-called “passive job seekers” account for up to 75% of the total workforce. Just imagine that three out of four people in a long-term relationship look to the side in search of a better option.
Increased self-employment opportunities
When so many people value their jobs low, it is not surprising that many of them dream of working for themselves – even in countries where there are many job opportunities. In the US, many people who work part-time as freelancers say they would like to quit working in the office and work for themselves full-time, if not for the instability of income and some other factors.
But it is obvious that flexibility and the possibility of more meaningful work are very attractive. It is interesting that self-employed people are ready to work longer and earn less, explaining this by the fact that traditional jobs do not meet the requirements of workers so much that many of them agree to reduce wages in order to avoid them.
The Continuous Temptation of Entrepreneurship
Young workers are most often disappointed in the traditional career paths and are tempted by the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. But the claim that stepping up all these entrepreneurial ambitions will prove to be a useful weapon in the talent war is doubtful. Ten years ago, Scott Shane cited data that only 30% of startups live longer than 10 years, less than 10% generally grow and only 3% grow significantly.
However, all this does not stop corporations from trying to attract entrepreneurial talent. Machines like GM and Goldman Sachs are experimenting with introducing a startup culture within large corporate structures, hoping to attract disintegrants who can change the status quo and innovate. But even when large companies like these hire entrepreneurial talents, they often try to manage and limit them.
How to make a difference
Instead of winning the talent war, organizations seem to be fighting the talent war, pushing employees more successfully than harnessing their skills. The result is an extremely inefficient labor market, where most companies complain about a lack of talent, and most employees complain about their meaningless work. Both sides lose.
What can organizations do to improve the situation? Three things.
1. It is better to value and understand talents. This means a transition from intuitive to scientific methods of assessment and reorientation to proven performance indicators, the basic characteristics of a good employee: usefulness in cooperation, ability and desire to work hard.
Instead, most organizations are either guided by intuition or overly complicate matters by devising long and inconsistent systems for assessing professional qualities that do not take into account the main factors of successful work. Amateur prejudice-based selection methods, such as unstructured interviews and resume analysis, ultimately take precedence over more accurate tools, such as evidence-based assessment of personal and cognitive abilities and structured interviews.
2. Stop developing “leadership skills”. Incredibly, studies show that there is a strong negative correlation between the amount of money spent on leadership development (in the US it is more than $ 14 billion a year) and people’s confidence in their leaders. One reason is that leaders often do not receive negative feedback, even in training programs. We are so used to developing strong qualities that weaknesses are ignored. Features of human psychology increase this problem: people tend to evaluate their talents too favorably, especially after realizing the measure of success.
Contrary to what most people think, leadership is not the quality of one leader, it is actually the result of the team. So, a recent survey conducted by an MBA program professor showed that although his students rate their leadership skills as the most important skill demanded in the labor market, recruiters put them closer to the end of the list. Any effective coaching intervention should focus on things that increase the effectiveness of the team or organization. They, not the leader, are true customers in well-designed coaching activities.
3. A little more introspection. The better people understand their strengths, limitations and interests, the more intelligent career choices they make. They will love their work more, will work better and will stay in the company longer. Introspection is an extremely underrated talent enhancer, as it helps people find jobs that truly match their values and skills.
Remember: talent is pretty much the right person in the right place, and most HR problems are resolved as soon as the right person gets the right job. But organizations cannot take the brunt of the search for these correspondences.
For people to make the best choice, they need some data, and in recent years, attempts have been made to democratize personal assessments – for example, free career assessments. In other words, the war for talents is partly personal. If organizations want to change current trends and begin to unleash their human potential, the best they can do is help people better understand their own talents and limitations.