• James Kelley

Managing Talent in a Time of Uncertainty: An interview with industry experts. Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of this four-part interview series with Lisa Buckingham and Juliet Bourke, and James Kelley is the moderator. In Part 1 we talk about the impact of inclusive leadership, authenticity, and what is on the horizon. In Part 2, we dove into the notion of soft skills, generational talent, and some gaps.


James Kelley:

When we talk about uncertainty and this notion of what's coming next in the macro-environment, the fundamental question is, who is talent? Traditionally the focus has been on permanent employees. Still, with more people moving to the gig economy and working alongside permanent employees, the focus needs to be broader than what they do versus who they are.


So, how do organizations create a higher engagement, development, and retention of this extended workforce?

Juliet Bourke:

Well, as you said, the first thing to consider is who your talent is and how it is different today. So I think we have thought about talent as the permanent people in our books. These people have some employment relationship with us; they get benefits, for example, but that's our employees and the other contractors or freelancers. We don't consider them part of our employee culture. But they are part of the culture, and people have relationships with them. I've seen better organizations that think about that whole segment of people. For example, training is provided to anyone regardless of their contractual status.

Lisa Buckingham:

The voice of the customer. You want all of that to be consistent, right?


Juliet Bourke:

Yeah, exactly. And these are actually customers. They move between the walls. Everyone with an employment relationship is also a customer at some point.

Lisa Buckingham:

Right.


James Kelley:

They're your best form of marketing and internal branding at the end of the day.


Lisa Buckingham:

Yes.


Juliet Bourke:

Exactly. Yeah. And so I think development is one of those pieces, making sure that the contractual arrangements or any of the systems are easy to use. They're often harder to use when you're outside the system than when you're inside the system. So actually making the tech simple for people.

I think there is an opportunity to help people see the person sitting next to them as a genuine co-worker rather than, "Oh, do you work full time here? Do you work permanently? Oh, you're a freelancer." And you know what? I had this happen to me once in one organization I was in. I was there for six months. And the person in the lift said to me, "Oh, you've just started here?" I said, "Yeah, yeah. I'm on secondment." So she goes, "Well, I won't bother to learn your name then." But that is real, so it's not just about opportunities to grow, develop, and have those cultural experiences with people. It is also about co-workers seeing that person as part of your whole environment.


Lisa Buckingham:

Yeah, and if you think about it, in the US, people like that divide of working, but quite frankly, I wonder statistically what's going to happen from COVID until we figure out what the new working models are. Where are you meeting your future partner? Where are you going to happy hour? I mean, a happy hour over Zoom was fun during COVID, but it does nothing.


James Kelley:

Yeah.

Lisa Buckingham:

Other than you're just like, "Okay, this is so odd." But from that perspective, or if you're in a leadership meeting and you get to go across business units or functions, that's an opportunity that a leader meets you and goes, "Well, wait a minute. They have great skills, and I'd like to bring them over." And it's a different experiential assignment. So we have to make sure that we're intentional in the future on development, assignments, and mobility.

And look, there's a ton of tech out there that we can work on and use. There's a ton of tech we could talk about on even giving professional feedback, so that's all really important. But it's that human interaction and that happenstance that you meet somebody that maybe you marry or you're working for them, who knows.


Come back next week for Part 4 of this 4-part series.


James Kelley, Ph.D., CEO


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