I admire the old movies from the 1940's for one reason. Brilliant scenes of 30-40 people dancing, singing, and unbelievable orchestras filled with polished talent fill the black and white screen. People in the performing arts industry were in high demand at that time, and that type of entertainment was a primary source of comfort for a society unaware of the impending technology invasion.
The caliber of talent back then seemed phenomenal, and even more astonishing was the pay- $30 on a good week. (For history buffs, it's interesting to note that the 1940 Census revealed 132 million Americans with an average annual income of $1368, unemployment was at 18.25%, and only 5% of the population had college degrees).
What about now?
Today, the big orchestras are dwindling, Broadway is struggling financially, and a single rock star can be a multimillionaire. The definition of "artistry" is much broader and, well, not always understandable.
The same trend is happening to organizations who hold the belief that "if we just get back to our roots, or do things like we used to, things will be great again." They want to do the same dance that was relevant decades ago, but today's business model doesn't fit that bill. The dance is also costing more as specialized skills are going to the highest bidder.
The business world has become a giant exploding pressure cooker. Fueled by a tug of war between the past and the present, organizations who refuse to get hip to the times are fizzling out. Kodak is a frightening example of rock stars turned hobos because they refused to embrace new technology and listen to the ideas of a talented workforce.
It's time to break the mold where organizational talent is concerned.
We have a different set of rules on the dance floor now as we face rapid changes and circumstances that never existed before:
-Globalized access to new markets- and new cultures
-Big Data with overwhelming amounts of information to process
-Digitalization and Mobile Technology brings feedback faster- both
-5 Generations in the workforce by 2023- and we don't fully understand the
-Terrorism and Politics threaten our "American Dream" and sense of
What should be done?
1. Look for talent who can be remodeled and people who defy the status quo (and have tech knowledge as a part of their overall skill package, with or without a degree). Instead of looking for people who follow the rules in mindless compliance, smart companies are looking for those people who are willing to "remodel" their talent® in order to reinvent the company. The definition of "key talent" is changing- dramatically! Everyone who embraces talent remodeling® will be able to utilize more people in their organization, as opposed to relying on a select few.
2. Accept that high performers and high potential leaders are two different kinds of people, and both are EQUALLY valuable. We can no longer afford to force high performers (those who are experts in a particular field) to be leaders too. There's an old belief that if you perform well, you should be promoted to a leadership role. High performers find that they still love to perform, and they don't necessarily enjoy the people management as much (if at all). Let performers focus on performance, and let leaders who like people lead the people.
3. Grow some guts and let go of non performers. Non performers are those who are milking the time and not producing any value while they tick off others around them who are carrying their workload. If companies want to survive, they need to learn how to get out of damaging relationships, because if they don't, it will kill productivity, morale, and profit. Set them free and let them find their freedom elsewhere.
4. Disarm the leadership wreckingballs. I was consulting with a manufacturing organization who did everything in their power to hold on to a leader who was clearly a wreckingball. Employees were afraid of him, and the production results were wrought with inefficiencies, quality problems, and delivery number challenges. The company decision makers struggled to hear the voice of employees who spoke up in focus groups and surveys. Talented people were leaving the company because they simply couldn't stand to be under this particular leader. Finally after several months, the leader was let go and there were instantaneous changes in terms of results. One person can really make all the difference in good ways- and bad!
Angela Nuttle is an author, speaker, talent remodeler™, and consultant in talent and organizational development. As founder of The School of Executive Presence, she teaches business people how to show up with executive presence. She also works directly with CEOS, Business Leaders, and HR Teams to develop people, potential, and processes that create productive and profitable business environments. To learn more about her experience with Fortune 500 companies and relevant solutions, visit www.corporatetalentexpert.com or www.schoolofexecutivepresence.com.
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1 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940 Population, vol. 3, "The Labor Force. Occupation, Industry, Employment, and Income," part 1: United States Summary (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1943), p. 5. Available online at www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html.