Organization’s Expectations vis-a-vis Talent Aspirations

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Organization’s Expectations vis-a-vis Talent Aspirations: Managing Talent for Tomorrow

As I look back at the last 10 years or so, I know that a lot of my career decisions have had to do with me as a person and my choices – however I also attribute some of them to how my aspirations were managed by the organizations I worked for when I look around today, I see my colleagues, juniors taking some bold career decisions even at preliminary career stages. Was the scenario the same 10-15 years back? How often have we heard of the so-called societal / corporate norms which had modulated one’s career choices then?

  • ‘It’s good to spend at least 3 -5 years in one firm before you move on…’
  • ‘I am going to let my career take a backseat for some time since I have just had a child’.
  • ‘Weekends are when I have fun; weekdays are when I slog it out – there just isn’t anytime during the week to even have a moment of peace!’
  • ‘I think you have some great ideas but you need to have patience. Once you gain some more experience and climb the ladder, you will also be able to influence the seniors here to work them through’

Perhaps if you are a 23 year old reading this article you would be like, “What… really?!” It’s true – the career aspiration story keeps changing, and how individuals think today may be nowhere close to the sentiment in some of the above statements. For the ‘talent of tomorrow’, the story may be completely different, and organizations would need to be prepared to deal with it. How do organizations then look at tackling these ever-changing aspirations?

Organizations exist primarily to make profit, and hence they expect the individuals who work for them to be as productive as possible. If I am a CEO, I know what vision I need to show to my employees to keep my organization alive and kicking! But how can I expect that my employees will be aligned to the same and exhibit the right behaviors?

What choices to I need to make…what decisions do I need to take to the keep the future of my organization secure? In light of the so-very changing, complex world, what do I need to understand about the talent in my organization? And well, I don’t really have as much time as I also need to run a business! Enter me (and some of you readers out there!)– Today’s HR professionals – who partner with business to ensure high productivity from employees. But to get the equation right, we as HR need to solve form the ‘human aspiration’ variables – and there are plenty of them!

With the different talent categories operating in the organization, the equation gets even more complex. The need of the hour is for us to recognize what each of these talent categories are looking for and how can they operate in a symbiotic fashion. So I stop and tell the CEO, “We need to think differently. We need to understand and take necessary action on each of these operating variables – so that we can manage our own expectations as an organization easily!”

Experiences, not Years of Experience

What we should plan for our employees are the right learning experiences, which can help propel the individual’s career forward. Similarly when we hire or promote, it’s not the duration of experience but what the employee has learnt which matters. We need to architect individualized experiences, especially for employees categorized as ‘top talent’ in the organization.

Gigs Across Organizations

While we embrace the gig economy, a thought on whether the future will hold scenarios where we can ‘loan’ talent across organizations? This would be one level above planning learning experiences only ‘within’ the organization – for certain functions / professions, it may be possible to penetrate the boundaries and provide the individual an experience in a partner organization; this may be a customer, supplier, etc. The challenge for us as HR professionals would be to create the right policies, rules and regulations around such kind of mobility.

Incubate Ideas Before Your Employee Turns Entrepreneur!

‘Make in India’ may have revolutionized the entrepreneurial landscape in the country, with more and more individuals, especially from the best institutes of the country trying their hands at running a business instead of just working for one. What then are we waiting for – how do we retain such talent? Find ways to capture the best ideas of your organization and incubate them into products /businesses with the help of these ‘idea generator’ employees, else (s)he may soon be your market competition in the future!

Wellness – Did We Appreciate It Before?

Going forward, individual talent aspirations are not at the risk of health. An increasing wave of corporate health awareness – both physical and mental is taking over the country, and will be acquiring even more importance in the coming years. How good are our policies and benefits here? Think again. Across the organization demographics – be it returning mothers, working parents, junior / senior individual contributors and so on, the need is to create robust policies for work-life balance and collaborate with partners who can counsel in terms of wellness.

Manager – the ‘Sounding Board’

Perhaps the most important variable and this is where most organizations are devoting a major share of their capability-building budgets. The erstwhile manager ‘managed hiring, performance, compensation, retention’ of the team. Tomorrow’s manager has a lot to learn. (S)He has to be open to the team’s diverse opinions, thoughts and ideas – some of which would have never been heard of earlier, since the world is constantly changing; some of which may challenge the manager’s set thoughts and beliefs. Speaking of change, tomorrow’s manager would need to be the change champion for the organization, and for this, the person has to himself / herself embrace change first. Tomorrow’s manager has to be open to a whole new work environment of respect, freedom from harassment, wellness, compliance to ethics, strong measures in data privacy and perhaps many more things! Tomorrow’s manager has to be the one person who gives continuous feedback to the team members and yes, also accepts feedback. Tomorrow’s manager needs to have a sense of the team they lead and take group feedback to gauge engagement. Most important of all – tomorrow’s manager needs to learn on how they can be a sounding board to the new generation of talent.

How Open are You to Technology?

With the advent of continuously changing technologies and proliferation of AI, employees need to embrace change and be able to use some of these technologies to their advantage to help facilitate their work. It is here that some individuals may fail and some may lead the way. Perhaps only those organizations who recognize the talent implications and take the right measures will survive in the long run.

Reverse Mentoring

Having used this tool more than once now, I understand its importance. The best leaders of today interact with the younger generation to keep themselves updated on technology, new ideas, understand their aspirations and what differentiates their generation from the next. This may simply be a business leader interacting with his/her 15 year old to gauge what’s keeping the new generation ticking. This ‘interplay’ of ideas between two very distinct talent categories in the organization may be what’s important for change to be slowly imbibed and for enhancing adoption of new ideas.

Age of Instant Gratification, but Learning & Experiences Take Time!

We live in a world of instant gratification, where we can mend broken appliances, pay our bills, order food, clothes, books, furniture, book a movie or a flight in a matter of seconds. This is possibly what the future generations will thrive on – however in the context of career and organization, it is important for our younger talent to realize that learning and experiences take time. It is here that we will be able to harness the wisdom of the senior members in our organization – in mentoring them to make the right career choices. The message is clear – there still continues to be no short cut to success!

How do we manage all such variables which will emerge in the years to come? The answer would be to look around at your talent, take feedback, analyze, analyze, analyze, but most important – be open to change and move forward! People will continue to be the sole factor for organizational success. The differentiator would be our ability to continuously understand talent aspirations and plug the variables involved to balance with the organization’s expectations.


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