By Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Innovates (www.epinnovates.com)
How often do we hear about a growing talent crisis or a lack of emerging leaders? How many times are we told that workplace culture is not what it once used to be, that people have lost trust in leadership and that younger generations are opting out of what is becoming a process-driven, cold and transactional business world? The answer is every single day. The truth is, much of these debates centre upon the need to nurture and free up new talent and to give emerging generations from all walks of life the opportunity to grow, make mistakes and learn. Yet we still find ourselves stuck in a talent rut blinded by judgement and assumption.
People complain of talent shortages and yet talent is all around us. The problem is we can’t see it and that’s because we don’t know where to look (or how to look for it). As a result, high numbers of businesses are losing out on future talent due to their obsolete processes and short-sighted approach to recruitment and talent discovery.
How often do we rule out talent? How often is our judgement clouded by social status, educational background or politics? In a world crying out for new talent and innovation, surely it is time to make changes to back the unrepresented talent out there and focus on competence, attitude and character in our search for great people? Talent is talent after all. As businesses we should be diverting our energies towards creating a more level playing field for talent, one that is fair and embraces all walks of life.
The challenge here is really about breaking down the barriers that still exist. For example, the age-old assumption that you need a university degree to be successful or that you need to be of a certain social background or status to get ahead in life. These are all nonsensical statements that have little bearing or reflection on the capability or talent of an individual.
Is businesseswant to talk of skills shortages with any degree of credibility, then leadership needs to lead the way by ensuring they instil the right processes in the workplace and create the right vision to be able to recruit great talent for the future. As with life, leadership is about balance, a balance between experience, youthful ambition and vision.
Opening more doors
The challenge we have on our doorstep today is to stamp out the cynicism that has evolved around what constitutes talent. Not everyone possesses the right skills and character for leadership and this will always be the case, but it’s about finding those people and supporting them through a platform that gives them another place to learn from and an opportunity to spread their wings and fly.
So how can we back more talent today and open more doors to discovery? Networking or recruiting outside of our usual circles is one way to start, we tend to stick within our comfort zones as businesses, operating in our fixed industries and within our usual network of colleagues. We need to look at talent beyond the obvious (or what we believe to be the norm). Passion and care is key in both life and work and make for an important attribute both in the workplace and in leadership. We should be looking at background and track record when reviewing talent but beyond what is simply written on a CV.
Understanding social competence is key, how do people present themselves and do they have the skills and the confidence to influence others? We need to redress the balance and criteria for what makes talent and what talent looks like today because it continues to evolve and it doesn’t start or stop at how many A-levels one achieves.
Accepting talent in all its forms
The business world needs help; there is a lack of trust in leadership and a lack of learning and development invested in teams today. As a society we are pushed to our limits and are feeling the pressure. The rise in cases of mental illness supports this theory and the need to stand up for what is fair and right.
Perhaps the overriding message is, we all need to be prepared as businesses and leaders to enthuse and support the freedom of great talent, not just to leave a legacy for the next generation but to give the young generations business leaders to be inspired by today and in future years. How can we possibly make this happen if we aren’t prepared to accept talent in its rawest forms?
About EPinnovates (www.epinnovates.com)
A shop window for entrepreneurial innovation, EPinnovates has been created to showcase exciting innovations, new products, services, concepts and businesses forlarger companies to discover and explore. Designed to recognise and support the innovation that entrepreneurs and smaller businesses bring to the future economy, EPinnovates tells stories about entrepreneurs; each has a different tale, adventure and overcomes diverse obstacles, but all are looking to improve business and create value. Accessing these ideas and innovations can be difficult forbusinesses to truly discover so EPinnovates acts to bridge that gap and help to engineer the future for the better byintroducinglarger companies to entrepreneurs through the principles of trust, community and relationships.