The War for Talent


With the rise in U.S. GDP from 1.8% in 2017 to 4.1% in 2019, our economy is accelerating at massive speed, essentially doubling. To keep up with the growth, you will need to hire in every department to continue to deliver on your customer requirements. If you’re having a problem finding skilled 'A' level talent, it’s because we are in a battle, a war for talent, the likes of which hasn’t happened to this extreme in recent history. This war on talent is driven by several key factors:

  • Low rates of unemployment: Right now, in a lot of cities around the U.S., unemployment is well below 5%. In Washington State, where I live, unemployment has been at 3.7% and is moving lower, and expected to be at 3.4% by Q3-19.

  • Skills Gap. By the time most graduate from college, what they have been trained for may become obsolete, and new skills must be learned. The key is finding people who are receptive to learning, with a desire for continuous education even after high school or college.

  • Sea Change in Demographics. Millennials now outnumber Boomers in the workforce, with Gen Z representing 25 million new workers. The pace of demographic change is accelerating, and companies must adapt.

  • Disruptive competition. It can come from anywhere. Companies need the best talent to help guide them to uncommon winning strategies which ensure long term growth and survival.

So what can we do about it? Here's what I think:

1. Create a culture that’s a magnet for prospective employees. 
Demonstrate your commitment to Core Values and Purpose through your daily actions. Develop a consistent WOW customer experience that creates loyalty and continuity of revenue streams.

2. Embrace the TopGrading™ methodology of hiring. Take the master class in TopGrading™, or hire a certified coach to teach TopGrading™ throughout your hiring process.

3. Train your workers to be learners. Learn to learn. Set up online access to learning, and encourage your employees to take full advantage ... including on company time.

Food for thought:

  • If you had to start over tomorrow, would you enthusiastically re-hire every employee you have today?

Want more? Here are 3 excellent resources defining the problem:

ARTICLE: The War for Talent: It's Real and Here's Why It's Happening [6 min read]

The skills that most people have today will be rendered obsolete in the future due to technology shifts, so we need to train our people to be learners and create cultures of continuous learning. Creating a place to work for people with changing needs, expectations and skills must be a strategic focus for growing companies.  

VIDEO: Jack Stack at 26th Annual Gathering of Games  [41 min watch]

Jack Stack, CEO of SRC Holdings and founder of the Great Game of Business™, predicts that 'PEOPLE' will be the most critical focal area of business near term. More traditional Critical Numbers involve financial metrics, but PEOPLE will be the new Critical Number for the next 24 months. At the recent 'Gathering of the Games' keynote, Jack predicts a downturn in the economy in the next 18 months and encourages his audience of nearly 1,000 executives to be focused on PEOPLE. Listen at the 16:52 mark as Jack cites the probable causes of the upcoming economic downturn. Jack reflects that the talent pool for skilled workers in the current economy has declined to the point that they are increasingly unavailable. If we focus on talent, as opposed to cash flow, profit, or other financial measures, we stand a much better chance of winning through the looming downturn and beyond.

BOOK: WHO by Geoff Smart, Ph.D., and Randy Street. 

Competency interviews have failed to produce the “A” performers that companies need to grow and multiply. TopGrading™ interviews, including both initial screening and TopGrading™ tandem interviews are a more effective method of hiring “A” Performers. The book describes a 12-step process that can be condensed to 5 key points—recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, training and retaining top talent. In addition, Smart and Street suggest we must also assess our current employees and ask the question: Do we have the right performers in the right positions, and if not, what are we doing about it?