When I travel and speak to clients about their people experiences the following phrases are often used to describe Millennials and the younger workforce.
They are uncommitted, entitled, nose stuck to screens, disengaged, lack loyalty, money chasing job-hoppers.
On the flip side, Gen X and Baby Boomers are described by younger individuals as:
Slow, lacking insight and understanding, untrusting, limited to the old way of working, frustraters not innovators.
The workplace is becoming more generationally diverse not less so, as trends like extended life spans and delayed retirement stretch our working lives far longer than has ever been experienced before.
At the same time, the world is evolving into a more comprehensively digital environment with the workplace rapidly changing to be relevant and appropriate in this space.
In a time of such change and upheaval in the way, we staff and run our businesses how should we think about Talent and manage it effectively?
It is about Delivery, not Age
The first task is to unbundle age and Talent. We have begun to use talent as a synonym for youth, this is a misappropriation of the label. Talent has never been a word that described an age group but always the delivery dynamics around an individual. If a person is delivering a disproportionate amount of value (proportionate to peers, salary and other input costs, age, experience, qualification) then they are talented – regardless of how young or old they are.
It is about Delivery not Potential
In times of change and disruption, we need to be focused on the actual benefits that our businesses need to see realised in order to succeed. Yes, we do need to invest in the future and those who will add value when we get there, but if we don’t make it through the tumultuous present we have no future to achieve. Whatever your organisation’s strategic drivers are in this time of digital transition the talent in your business are those individuals who deliver value toward that goal – regardless of age.
It is about Delivery, not Digital
The digitisation of our businesses is the challenge dominating the corporate landscape. Will Artificial Intelligence cause certain skills to be redundant? Will robotics require wholesale redundancies? Are we facing a future where our people are unnecessary hindrances to our effectiveness? While these questions are understandable they are the wrong ones to be asking. These are the better ones – If AI makes certain skills redundant which are the new ones we should be leveraging? If Robotics makes certain individuals redundant how do we redeploy them into new functions that don’t exist yet? How do we retain our people as a key element of our effectiveness in a digital future? There are already members of your business who are beginning to perform in this digital world…. look to their delivery skills for the insights you need.
As organisations, we need to keep our eyes on the ball. Talent, Multi-generations, Digitisation…. or whatever comes next – these are all the elements that form the context within which successful businesses adjust and continue to deliver. The focus is delivery, and those who deliver regardless of the challenge, disruption, change, or chaos…. find your “deliverers” and keep them close. Put another way – Talent in a multi-generational workplace is about High-Performers, not young people, not high-potential, and not digital gurus…. essentially, the same thing it has always been about 🙂