The talent question seems to be an unending one; business is changing, customers are changing, the workforce’s needs are changing, congestion in major cities is forcing us to change how and where we work and technology has forever changed what we know work to be.
So how do we handle the dearth of skilled talent to deliver what we want in our businesses?
1.Re-consider what talent means to you: In August, we woke up to the news that Google, IBM, Apple and some other large organisations no longer require college degrees. What is the place of that college degree in the scope of work of your potential talent?
We have never really looked at CVs in our organisation. There are just a series of tests and questions, and because we custom build people, we just look for the raw material and start to build.
We are not in any way knocking degrees but imagine a world without mass produced cars, without airplanes, without the light bulb, without the art of Vincent Van Gogh, without Microsoft or Apple, and you will find a college degree a lot less important than an inquisitive, hardworking and proactive learner on your team.
2. Are you sure you are not being ageist?: In Nigeria, the economic crisis and changing business landscape has led to massive job loss in the telecommunications, banking, manufacturing and Oil & Gas sectors among others, thereby dumping a lot of older people back into the job market.
Most employers now put an age cap for various positions, however this pool of workers is a great source of talent if you overlook ‘’age’’. The benefits include their experience and exposure and you may just be surprised that you can actually afford to pay them (that is a discussion for another day).
Like searching for any other team member, you should first look out for their attitude, competence and willingness to learn.
We also know people deteriorate when they are idle, so a la The Intern, you may be saving a life.
3. Re-train your team: My friend told me a story that tickled me no end, a driver in her office is taking courses to transition to skilled work within the same organisation.
This example may be the odd one but there are people within your organisation that can learn the skills you require. Again, a willingness to learn is really all you need. Have an open and innovation encouraging environment and look at the people in your team with new spectacles, what you have been seeking may have just been within your reach all along.
4. Be open to work from remote locations: I cannot talk about this enough. As long as the team are disciplined, you have a system that ensures discipline and you have the support infrastructure in place, so your team members can be almost anywhere. The most reliable graphics person we have found is in a different city and no one on the team has physically met her. She makes us happy and we hope we make her happy too.
5. Custom make them: Yes, this is my absolute favourite. I think people are a lot more expansive than we give them credit for and if we are honest, there is little reference for some of the things we may require in the workplace. Go to the drawing board and figure out the best way to custom make your talent. For some, it may be as undergraduates, for others, it may be post graduate; whichever works for the kind of talent you need, talk to us at Future Business Leaders Programme (FBLP) to co-develop and build your talent.