Word of the week…Talent

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Recently I have been whizzing around London, in and out of meetings and connecting with some really great people, which has given me so much richness in perspectives and fresh insights.  It has also meant a fair amount of train time, which for me is my chance to get reading and watching to satisfy my curiosity and interest in what is going on out there.

And I’ve learned some great new things.

Literally everyone is talking about tech talent, or lack thereof.  Everyone wants one (or several) and we can’t recruit them quick enough, nor is there an infinite pool of people that can do this stuff.

So, what have I seen over the past week that I like;

The Tech Talent Charter, which is a commitment by organisations to deliver greater inclusion and diversity into technology roles. Collectively they recognise they can make change happen, particularly around gender diversity. Brilliant!

I loved seeing that the Tech Talent Accelerator launched by WhiteHat and Generation UK, had received funding.  They supply young people with the skills and opportunity to access fulfilling careers in the tech sector. Great stuff for getting more girls (but not just girls) into tech, driving social mobility and helping to bridge that huge skills gap which we are facing.

Slightly less on the tech side, but along the same theme;

Investment 20/20, and all of those fabulous employers (some of which are my old colleagues) were involved in the work experience week, where students took part in masterclasses and projects to develop their skills for the workplace. This is so great, Investment 20/20 for those that don’t know is a trainee scheme powered by some of the great investment brands in the UK, and what is really good about this is they recruit for attitude and train for skill, regardless of background which really helps to make investment management accessible to a wider talent pool, moving the social mobility dial.

I’ve also been dabbling in the talent management space. I have some experience and lots of the work I have done previously definitely has strong linkages and some of the things that I have Implemented in the talent management world have had some positive impacts but I am no “specialist”, and of course a Business Leader wanted to talk about Talent, and of course I said “I’d love to”.

Important to me on this one was that I didn’t really want to talk about traditional talent management frameworks and approaches, where there is a 9 box grid and a group of leaders sit in a room once a year to talk about their successors, who typically look a bit like them (in person and on paper) and then it takes months to really get anything moving, by which time everything is a bit outdated. I wanted some fresh ideas, and actually these old approaches are not going to fit into a fast paced, agile world, nor are they really going to shift any diversity and inclusion dial.

DisruptiveHR was really good for this actually, their Disruptive HR Club is well worth checking out, and the small personal investment made.  They pull together some great ideas from other companies and if nothing else it is all in one place, in a variety of formats and in short doses, rather than the hit and miss approach I sometimes find when you are at the mercy of a search engine.

I also have some great ex colleagues and friends who are awesome at talent stuff, so obviously I reached out to them to pick their brains, and they have been obviously amazing, thank you!

The Business Leader that I was speaking to, they were great and so easy to talk to.  And they wanted to talk about talent and people, big tick for them!

We were having a really open and interesting debate and so I felt I was able to challenge them a little (I hope they didn’t mind).

A few things that I was reflecting upon regarding this discussion, and these are not uncommon themes or concerns, I paraphrase below:

How are we going to get our “leaders” to change when they don’t want to?

Amongst other things suggested… “we make a conscious effort to understand them as individuals, to understand their drivers, motivators, ambitions etc and we ask them for their ideas”

That sounds risky, what if they have unreasonable demands?

I obviously gave my suggestions about how to approach unreasonable demands, but also “But what if we don’t ask them, I believe that is a riskier strategy, and these are my reasons why…”.

The roles need to change, what if my people don’t want to change, I don’t want to lose people?

See above…but also “the business is evolving, roles are evolving, the skills required are evolving and people are evolving.  What skills may have fit into a role yesterday may not be enough for tomorrow and it’s our job to identify the skills that we need and to help people realise their full potential, whether that is within these roles or to help them move onto something else that suits their skills, aspirations and ambitions, otherwise the business can’t move forward”

Sometimes when you work in HR, what seems to be the obvious to you, is not obvious to the business, that is why they are great at what they do, but it is why you are there. The conversation really went back to basics, and most of the great ideas I had we didn’t really speak about.  I’ll save them for the next conversation, if they invite me back.

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