Back to the Future

I opened the paper today and read where several organizations announced that they were cutting staff in order to control costs. In the same time span I saw several posting in the social media space which stated that C-suite office holders are saying that their greatest challenge in 2012 is going to be centered around talent issues especially talent retention. I must be missing something here. We can not state that we are concerned with retaining the talent we have and at the same time discharge them in order to maintain costs.

Jeff Cox in his book Velocity tells us that unless the organization is on the verge of bankruptcy or closing its doors then there is no excuse for cutting headcount. Part of the dichotomy here is how the organization views its human capital.The majority of American corporations treat their employees a a commodity. When you are considered in this track, then the natural assumption is that  employees can be cut or hired based on the economics of the time However if you consider your employees to be valuable assets like Toyota does, then the solution to freeing up funds for headcount is not to cut heads but rather to deep dive your operations with the goal to remove as much non-value added activities as is possible. This in turn we will free up revenue that can be used to maintain headcount.

Jim Collins tells us in his book Good to Great that the key is to get the right people on the bus. I don’t argue that point at all. What I  do argue is that all too often we get rid of the wrong people in trying to reach where we think we want to be. As a result we either eliminate people or screen candidates out because we are still working off of an ancient formula for assessing talent.

Think you have a talent problem going into 2012? Learn to think out of the box. I recently heard of a local car dealer who could not identify quality technicians for his dealership. Reach out to the training institutes in the area that are training mechanics and see what talent you can grow. I also heard of law firm that posted a position for a paralegal and out of 100 applicants could find only three that fit their mold. How about talking to the local Universities that have Communication programs. Get somebody who knows how to write and teach them the legal parts after they come onboard.

Talent is what you make of them. If you show them that you care and respect their input you will have a vibrant organization. If you show them that they are just an inconvenience then you get what you paid for.

We have been there before when talent was a luxury. It is plainly not prudent to in this knowledge/service age to approach your talent needs by cutting heads when there are better ways to control costs. Look at what you  do not have to do to meet client demands. The answers are right in front of you. They are hidden from your perspective because in many cases you have been too hesitate to look.

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