Thursday, 13 September 2012

What’s wrong with our home talent?

I spoke to a CEO of a web design company recently.  His company employs around 50 people with several of his designers based in Azerbaijan. I asked him how it was possible to have people based so far out even if he is in a virtual business.

His answer was as follows: "If I had the choice I would employ my technical staff here (in Belgium) but the problem is the following: It is not about the money but more about it being extremely difficult to find the right staff who have a sense of loyalty to the company they work for as well as the adequate skills. Once the person is on board, they are trained for approximately six months, after which they do not hesitate to move on when a better financial offer comes their way from another company. So why bother? In Azerbaijan the workforce is highly skilled and has a great sense of loyalty to the company they work for. I am very happy with them."
 
I had witnessed this myself in a time when I recruited senior IT staff in the past but it was interesting to be reminded of this fact by a CEO and the flaws we face on our home ground when we are seeking our very own talent & skills. Take note skills are not talents. Talents are your natural gifts and strengths. Skills are the knowledge, expertise and know how you have acquired throughout your career. It is often the case the two are confused with each other. Yet it takes great skill to develop your talents.

The immediate issues that spring to mind from this example, is not just our lack of loyalty as an employee but how we are driven by money.  Evidently it is a cultural problem and a mind-set that is conflictive and extremely difficult to deal with, which clearly also exists in the financial sector amongst others.

The issues and solution are twofold. The IT sector, like in the financial sector, falls within the service sector. Those that are employed in the service sector must have the mentality of ‘serving’ for the needs of the customer (givers mentality) and not those for their own benefit.(takers mentality.) If someone leaves because of being offered more money elsewhere; this person is seen as contributing for his own need. This is a cultural issue and is endemic in our society. It begs the question. How can we be contributing therefore for our own benefit in a service sector customer facing environment?
 
Following the carrot is by no means the key to happiness. Instead we must strive to give yourself to work that brings together a need and I promise you; your talent and your passion will be unlocked and you will be happier for it.

I say it is twofold as this must be looked at too from the employer’s perspective. People in authority may not fully understand or grasp the full extent of human nature, in the sense that they manage people as they do things. Their lack of understanding can prevent them in tapping into the human potential of their employees, their true worth and their talent. By using them purely on their skill whereby overlooking their talent or rewarding a knowledge worker on short term gain; are some examples of management through fear in so far as the employee can easily become unhappy. He/she feels degraded or depersonalised. They do not feel ‘cared’ for and ultimately lose their sense of loyalty. In other words a job becomes a job, more like a necessity that is programed in us and not something they want to do or feel passionate about.

The final point to make and worth noting that it is also up to universities and training programs to remain abreast to where the gaps remain in our pool of talent to where the scarcity of skills can be matched. If there are a shortage of talent in our very own back yard well these issues must be addressed in a balanced manner.
 
The more we use our present talents, the more talents we are given and the greater our capacity becomes.

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