Are You Trying to Shave Off Squared Edges to Make Talent Fit?

Kathy Rapp Candidate Pool, Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, War for Talent

Houston is blessed and cursed right now and I’m not just talking about the Texans.  The city is booming due to the vibrant oil and gas industry; and the booming also means talent is scarce.

A recent gathering of Houston’s CHRO’s had some oil and gas leaders bantering about talent, specifically the challenge of changing demographics alongside current leaders.  An insightful statement was made to the effect of, “Are we trying to shave off the squared edges to make the ‘new’ talent pegs fit into existing round holes?”

Suddenly the discussion heated up.  How do we push ourselves to think differently about the workforce of the next 5+ years when we have traditional leaders who follow the mantra of “I did it, so suck it up and do it too?”

Here are some of the insights on the new talent for our “seasoned” leadership:

These square pegs are our future leaders, so it’s only a matter of time before they change the game themselves.  This isn’t a trend.  A shift has occurred and you can either alter your leadership methods or die trying.  One exec summed it up by stating her advice was to think of these up-and-comers as your children.  How would you talk to them?  What advice would you give?  How fervently would you listen, attempt to understand and guide their careers?

It’s a candidate market; the harsh reality will smack you in the face soon.  Fill in the blank.  We are “XZY” and therefore you should be paying us to work here. Wrong.  This will turn the stomachs of top talent faster than you can say counter-offer.  While pedigree still matters and having a Shell or Exxon Mobil on your resume is cool, you (employer) can’t rely on reputation alone.  Today’s passive candidates and your future leaders are looking for a fast-track, corporate social responsibility and a blending of their professional and personal goals.  This means your branding, assessment, recruitment, onboarding and development of talent MUST be customized and current.

Tomorrow’s talent wants to talk development and scoffs at a 3% merit when they know slackers get 2%.  There needs to be a fundamental shift in how HR pros and leaders approach feedback and monetary commitments.  Back to our oil and gas friends… in addition to development and rewards, the challenge of mobility, cultural nuances, tax consequences, family constraints and opportunity should be at the top of the “must address” list.  In addition, the candidate pool isn’t just men anymore.  Women are becoming primary breadwinners in many U.S. homes and few have a willing working partner who supports moving every 2 years to lavish locations like Saudi Arabia, Angola or South Louisiana.

It’s a dilemma, yes. But for true HR leaders who are at the forefront of cultural, economic and environmental change – this is yesterday’s news.  For everyone else, there’s some catching up to do and it begins with the understanding that what traditionally has worked isn’t going to cut it anymore. And rather than be left scrounging for talent you should be focused on figuring out how to make the round holes work alongside the square pegs your #1 priority.