When I first started working in talent management in 2008, I quickly learned that one of the biggest issues facing HR leaders at the time was the "War for Talent." Sound familiar? Of course it does. The term was coined in 1997 by Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company and has reverberated the echo chamber of HR and management circles for more than 20 years.
As a series of macro changes have impacted the workplace and companies like yours over the past two decades, the proverbial war for talent has waged on.
- In my earliest days in the industry, it was the anticipated baby boomer retirement exodus causing great concern about generational bench strength and experience.
- Through economic downturn it was about knowing which people needed to be retained to weather the storm.
- With high employment and stronger economies, the discussion shifted to strategies for keeping and attracting more of the best people to ensure organizational growth and competitiveness.
- With technology disruption – digital transformation, big data, AI – finding talent with domain expertise in these areas took center stage.
- More recently there's been a shift to focus on cultivating behavioral or "soft skills" like creativity, communication and adaptability, because they underpin long term organizational agility and are foundational to adapting to the future of work.
In each instance the fundamental issue that defines the crux of the "talent challenge" has been ensuring organizational capability through the skills of your people. So, this challenge isn't new, but it is increasingly acute and remains high on the executive agenda for organizations globally.
More than ever talent leaders are called upon to drive strategic choices about skills. Which are most important? Do we build, buy or borrow? Hiring new roles or bringing on contingent workers with the right technical skills. Reskilling tenured employees to take on completely different jobs as businesses transform. Upskilling employees to stay current in their existing roles. Mobilizing talent with the right skills to capitalize on new opportunities. Creating an employee experience that nurtures skills and behaviors in a way that's meaningful to your people.
If you ask me, with this backdrop, there's never been a more exciting time to be a talent pro! Which is why we asked one of the most exciting voices in the talent space – global industry analyst Josh Bersin – to join us in a webinar this month where he'll provide a fresh take on skills: building organizational capacity for identifying critical skills, hiring for them, and most importantly a holistic approach developing skills so that they are embedded in the way your organization operates.
Whether you've gone through a formal exercise or not, every company either has a set (or must identify a set) of critical skills that help you deliver organizational capabilities at scale. These skills support your areas of differentiation, allow you to adapt to changes in your industry, compete effectively in your markets, and build a self-sustaining talent brand.
And skills are the currency of your people as well. They help them land the job, deliver on their performance goals, grow their careers, and make them more adaptable in times of rapid change.
Clearly, when it comes to your talent strategy there's an inextricable link between what the organization needs and what your people need – meaning skill identification and development must be embedded in their experience at work. That's what Josh and I will discuss in our webinar.
I've had the opportunity to collaborate with Josh for several years now. Our conversations have ranged from the technical: "what's next on the roadmap;" to the philosophical: "the new book of management hasn't been written yet;" to the observant: "your extroversion is off the charts, Connie." Each one has been a thought-provoking pleasure.
If you haven't yet had the opportunity to read some of Josh's recent commentary on the skills of the future, now is a perfect time to get started – as we'll explore these topics more deeply in our upcoming webinar.
I hope you'll join us!