Monday, January 22nd, 2018
You Want Talent–Does Talent Want You?
Almost ten years ago, in my role as EVP of Organizational Development for a global food retailer, I brought together a group of fifteen Hi-Potential leaders from across the globe to Sweden for a Leadership College I had designed. The idea was to explore new ideas in a different culture from any where we had stores. We visited various companies to see what their business culture and financial models were like. The last exploration was at a local college in Stockholm. My team and I ran a daylong Future Search. This is a methodical way to talk about what future trends and needs and to get agreement on opportunity and action. (See Future Search by Marvin Weisbord and The Search Conference by Merrelyn Emery)
Our hi-potential leaders served as facilitators and observers during the day. The last bit of work had the visiting executives listen to the summaries of the work of the students. Our officers (men and women) all had on light color shirts and dark skirts or slacks. They looked like rumpled IBM employees of the 60’s. The students had morphed (not moved) away from assigned tables into a shapeless coagulation of people. The student group was colorful—hair, tattoos, clothes and language.
The future was there in front of us. Here is what these future employees wanted:
Work and home to blend totally. Anything done at work could be done at home and vice versa—hair salons at work, executive meetings from home, dogs under the desk, ping-pong in the hallway, performance reviews in the local coffee shop. They wanted no accountability for their time put in at work, only on their results.
In the workplace (if there was one) they wanted movable desks and office cycles so they could carry their work with them and cluster together as needed or disappear for some quiet work. Each cycle would have all the latest in technology on the dashboard.
The students thought they would work for 5-7 companies in their career over their life time. “Career” was a word they avoided and did not want it used about them. When they got bored or lacked stimulation for being creative, they imagined they would move on but NOT necessarily up. They assumed there would be breaks in employment for life events of all kinds.
The goal was to have a tailor made life with lots of flexibility. There would be no need for much policy. If an employee was sick, they would stay home until they were well. If they needed time off, they would take it. This would work because the whole team would be a company of people that would have one another’s backs.
The students didn’t mind leaders because some people have that talent. They didn’t think leaders should be paid much more than others. They did’nt want a flat organization but they wanted no shadow of power over others. The words they used instead of leader, when asked, were “orchestrator, facilitator, path finder, and jokingly, “a shepherd”.
These student/future employees were not terribly dedicated to any one product or industry. If they could use and develop their talent and have fun and flexibility, they were happy.
This list of requirements for work was created twelve years ago.Not sure we listened well enough to be ahead of the wave, because here is what is wanted today, especially by Milennials, but not only:
Two contributors to Forbes Kaytie Zimmerman and Larry Alton write recently about Millennials and what goes on as they mature and what will be needed to keep this very entreprenurial generation attracted and attached to large corporations.
They want good jobs in good companies—work that matters in companies that are exceedingly ready to give to the world and to the community. They want time off to volunteer and the company to be highly ethical and ecologically responsible. They want to have social impact.
Diversity and inclusion will be demanded. This is a generation of travel and contact with many different people. They don’t think present leadership has done a very good job. Diversity will not be a policy issue but one of company culture DNA.
Millennials want Employer Benefits that fit their values such as 529 Savings Plan for college for their kids and supports of time off to help with aging parents. The Millennials are very family oriented. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey, they want “the stability of fulltime work and the flexibility of free lancing.
They want a very new kind of leadership. Power comes from collaboration and involvement and using talent to the fullest. It does not come from command and control. Leaders will need to be accessible and authentic and respectable. No scandals.
And guess what? Millennials are getting older and are settling down. They no longer job hop as easily as they did before marriage and kids. Those Millennials who have stayed in companies are heading to leadership roles and now have to figure out what to do about Generation Z which is a very confident, liberal, self-expressive and open to change bunch.
Progress? I think so.