Jobs are scarce, competition is high, unemployment is staggering—all of these factors should contribute to an environment easily optimized by an employer. But according to recent surveys, hiring managers are still struggling to find great talent.
“After three years of organizational contraction and less internal investment, companies are taking a hard look at their onboard talent and aren’t pleased with what they find,” reports Michael Haid, senior vice president of talent management for Right Management, on a study its talent and career management firm conducted with more than 600 organizations. “Lean times make it hard for organizations seeking to recruit, retain, or develop future leaders. And they’re keenly aware of the tough competitive environment they’re in, and the need to hold on to and build leadership.”
Marlon Cousin, managing partner of The Marquin Group, a diversity recruitment firm in Atlanta, says that companies should not be surprised by these findings. “In good times and bad times the same dynamics are going on,” he explains. “Overall, companies don’t do a good job developing talent. What happens during critical times when you need talent to step up, you find that you don’t have the talent you thought you had, and so it becomes more exploitive because you’re asking people to do more with less. You had average employees doing one job and now you’re asking them to do two. Only an exceptional employee can do two at that level and have a high level of success.”
Exceptional talent, he notes, aren’t challenged in any economy. “They never have problems finding work, and in today’s environment they will pursue companies that continue to enhance their talents: those firms that are innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial in nature.”
Cousin, however, believes these reports are motivators because they force companies to take inventory of their talent and how they conduct business. “We need to rethink who we hire, who we are going to get to coach and train these people, and how we create a culture that is creative and progressive. Do we have the right talent to take us to the next level in order for us to compete? If you don’t, you have to re-evaluate. Then you have to have a strategic plan to move and get there. There is no substitute for the right talent.”