Why is internal mobility so hard? This is one of several questions that Kevin Wheeler, founder of the Future of Talent Institute, tackles when he joined Matt Alder on a recent episode of Recruiting Future.
But first they talk about changes in the talent acquisition landscape. Over to Kevin:
“I think that the whole concept of talent acquisition has been defined people who can fit predefined categories of work. That’s kind of what we’ve done for the last 70 or 80 years, or maybe 100 years. And I think that’s what’s fundamentally changing. We’re going to be looking for skills to solve problems that we have.
“It’s really about problem solving. It’s about dealing with the issues we have as an organization. It’s about how do we get something done. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that one person is going to be the entity that gets this whole thing done. It may be a variety of people to get it done.
“So, from a talent acquisition perspective, it’s really probably more skills acquisition that we’re really looking at than people…And they could be employed in a variety of ways. You know, it doesn’t necessarily mean a traditional permanent employee.
“So, you know, I think we have all these sort of assumptions that we just sort of base our life on…but they’re all being challenged by the pandemic. And that’s really what’s shaken us up, and what’s really changing everything exponentially.”
Matt Alder responds:
“I think one of the interesting things is [that] throughout the last 12 to 18 months, companies have been talking much more about internal mobility, and how they can find skills within their organization, and move people around and upskill people, and all those kinds of things.
“But actually, when you dig below the surface, that’s something the employee has really struggled to do. And I’ve struggled to find any great examples of employers doing that brilliantly. Is that the same in terms of the sort of the conversations that you’ve been having?”
Kevin Wheeler: “Yeah, I think so. I’ll push back a bit and say that I think it was done quite successfully earlier in the 20th century. And I think companies like BP, IBM, Philips, lots of the big companies, Unilever, they actually always practiced internal mobility.
“And they tended to hire fresh graduates from university, and hire only a handful of experienced people from outside. And they had an internal development process where people move through different jobs, could take on different roles, could switch from being an engineer, to being a manager, to being a salesperson, and so forth.
“I think [in the 80s] when we started to get rid of middle management, and the word was efficiency, and boost our stock price, and get rid of extra people, unfortunately those extra people that we were getting rid of were the ones that were learning on-the-job how to do the things that we needed to have done. So, we kind of created our own mess in a way here. But maybe fortuitously, it’s working out better in the end. Because now rather than having these jobs that last for 20 or 30 years that are fundamentally the same, jobs are changing every year.”
It’s not just internal mobility that’s feeling the burn either – the recruitment industry, as it is now, might disappear.
Here’s Kevin Wheeler again:
“The recruiting function, as we’ve known it, traditionally, is pretty much going to disappear for the most part. I mean, there will be recruiters, but what they do will be very different than what they do today.
“It will be more again about advising, consulting, partnering with hiring managers, and doing other things like managing some of this automation and software.
“I think it’s inevitable that it will come. It’s coming to manufacturing, it’s coming to financial services. It’s coming to banks. Everywhere, it’s being impacted. So, we can’t sit here as recruiters and say, “Oh, we’re different than all these other organizations, and all these other occupations.”
Listen to the full conversation above for more on upskilling, recruiting tech and of course, predictions for 2022.
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