War of talent is an ancient concept, which was given by McKinsey. Why exactly it was a war of talent, or in today’s scenario, it should be taken as the war for talent? During the last two decades, there have been drastic changes in HR philosophy which is a significant transformation; Technological advancements have given new meanings for the exploitation of Human resources giving rise to multi-skilling. The talent is in abundance with mushrooming of engineering colleges and management institutes in length and breadth of the country. The HR practices about talent acquisition have undergone major changes. Gone are the days when there was a practice of releasing advertisements in newspapers, scrutinizing applications and conducting written tests in offline mode for making a final selection of candidates through group discussions and interviews.
We have to coin the real word today whether it is talent acquisition, talent hiring or talent hunting. In earlier days, a single word “recruitment” would suffice the purpose which is not finding the place with the corporates now because they are more concerned about managing the hot skills with them and snatching the expertise available with competitors in the markets. Some leading companies like Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte and Price Waterhouse Coopers are active competitors at the same level of competency.
There is cut-throat competition for making USP. It is not the question of talent hiring for them because the brand image and attractive packages attract like a honeybee to a flower. The main focus of the company goes in retaining the hot skills available with them. What makes hot skills? From HR strategic point of view, a company focuses all its energies towards exceeding the organizational objectives by way of maximizing productivity.
First and foremost, the foundation of competencies is created as we make the foundation of a multi-story building. The Human resource is to be hired like the bricks of the foundation, and training is imparted in such a manner that it gives stability and strength to the foundation. It is the initial selection which is vital because the recruiter knows whom and why he is selecting a particular candidate and what kind of bonding is going to be developed in the initial stages so that like a high-rise building the new incumbent looks for his career plans and future in the same organization. Unless and until a feeling of owning the organization comes in the mind of new entrant, it will not only be painful but impossible to retain him in the company because if it is value addition in terms of capabilities, the temptation will be there to leave the company for a hike in salary perks and allowances. The employee turnover and attrition are maximum in the IT sector, why it is so? When is the job profile almost the same in nearly the entire IT sector? Now the IT field is no more wedded to electronics and communication. We do not get surprised when an executive comes for aspiring the managerial position with a degree of civil engineering or metallurgy engineering with sufficient knowledge of IT. What makes them an IT consultant without having the same core field at B.Tech level. I think the credit goes to induction training and orientation programs. The Mysore campus of Infosys is famous for this.
Recently there was a significant influx of disillusionment of M.Tech students of IITs for leaving their studies to join the public sector. Various IITs are in the process of requesting the public sectors for deferring their joining so that their prestigious M.Tech programs are not disturbed. Moreover, it may lead to discouragement for the M.Tech aspirants. The problem lies in the fact that we do not take students for their attitude. Similar is the case for companies; they should recruit for the attitude and train for the skills.
If you talk to a young engineering graduate, he looks for a great company and a great job. Now great is quite a relative term that cannot be generalized because the greatness of a company should be in terms of strong values, organization culture and flexibility. Nevertheless, benefits and excellent pay packages also define the greatness of the company. What is a great job? For a young aspirant with no experience, he looks for better learning, advancement in career, creation of wealth and opportunities for acquiring skills as a great job.
In talent acquisition, the focus is on building a talent pool for the future, forecasting, identifying different roles and finally branding of the employees. In today’s scenario, the task of HR personnel has become quite different because it is easy to find talent, but it is challenging to retain. I was talking about creating a foundation of competencies at the beginning of the process of talent hiring. The talent is hired with best of the skills available in the market conforming to the job requirement The HR is responsible for associating with line managers in generating the expertise out of hired talents mainly due to the reason that no two individuals can be the same. The skills get outdated, which needs to be nurtured by training and retraining. The HR perspective should be to analyze the history of attrition for certain positions. While hiring, they must keep in mind that it is employed today to meet challenges for tomorrow.
Today’s HR professionals need to learn psychology; I advocate Human Psychology should be taught as one of the subjects in the MBA curriculum. Most of the time, our concentration is to hire the best of the talents, and we forget to have a behavioural analysis of the personality of the candidates because skills can be improved, but behavioural traits remain forever. The profile may match with the job position, but the attitude may not. You can always change the mindset of a person, but it is impossible to change the set mind at any stage of life.
It is not very difficult for an HR professional to analyze and identify the behavioural traits of the candidates. The idea is not to discourage a candidate but to make him feel that he has a bright future in the organization. His objectives are not overlapping organization objectives, and he is having enough flexibility for adopting the organizational culture and values.
Earlier, in the beginning, I talked about the selection process, which is a vital area to be debated upon in the context of talent hiring. John Dewey rightly said, “Education is not preparation for life, but it is life itself”. Today’s scenario is VUCA which speaks about Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous situations. One has to think about whether he lives to work or works to live. Social media is dominating – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Skype have become a great source of talent hiring. Nowadays, several recruitment apps are available to reignite recruitment. It is all cost-effective and time-saving techniques once we tap these sources.
I remember a few instances where the candidates lost their jobs even after the final selection based on the behavioral traits because the company was very particular about the personality traits, interpersonal relations, likes and dislikes and other attributes. A novel idea cropped up in the mind of HR professionals to get connected with the candidates on Facebook using fake profiles. It was done with the purpose because there were several complaints of women harassment by male colleagues.
I want to share an old story of a company that hired a salesman for selling shoes. The salesman was sent to the place in a remote area with a full truckload of shoes. The dynamic young man surveyed the area and observed that no one in the town was wearing shoes. He was demoralized and telephoned the company to divert the shoe consignment to a bigger city where people wear shoes. The marketing head at the corporate office, instead of diverting the shipment, sent a young man with innovative ideas to that small town. The new salesman surveyed the town and telephoned the marketing head to send two more truckloads of shoes. When he was questioned for his requirement, he replied with confidence “Sir, I am delighted to find this place where nobody wears shoes. It is a virgin market with no competitors. I do have time and skills to educate people and demonstrate the usefulness of wearing shoes. With the population in town, I will be able to sell three truckloads”.
The above example teaches us the importance of hiring only such talents who have great optimism, analytical ability, foresightedness, and pragmatic approach. HR professionals, please wake up and welcome new ideas! Innovation and knowledge have bypassed the creation of a heavy infrastructure in terms of plants and machinery if we talk in terms of ROI- (Return on Investment).
Uber, the world’s largest car hiring agency does not own any car. Facebook does not create any content. Alibaba, the largest retailer, does not keep any stock. Airbnb, a world’s largest accommodation provider, and OYO do not own any properties, but they are into business, How? It is all talent hiring. These companies could hire a talent that could have the potential for generating enormous skills for innovation, ideas, and new concepts in the virgin fields. We must not forget employee referrals as another vital source of talent hiring. It reminds me of the famous proverb ” birds of a feather flock together” or as I say you know me if you know my friends. The employee referral was quite handy in getting the right person at the right time at the right place in the quickest manner. The employee who refers to the hired candidate is rewarded with a monetary incentive.
Lastly, I need to touch the most critical aspect of attrition which comes in the way of hot skills management and most of the time, it is ignored. IT IS BOSS. Yes, when I say BOSS I mean the team leader for whom the team members are selected. The knowledge level, leadership qualities, personal approach of the boss needs to be kept into consideration while taking the talents. One looks for a B.Tech graduate from IIT Bombay with an MBA degree from IIM Ahmedabad as an ideal candidate for the company. Ironically, his boss is not even MBA what to say for his graduate degree from the unknown institute, with a proven record of lethargic attitude with no knowledge base, just a leader by experience and loyalty to the company. In such a case, how do you expect that the talented guy is going to be retained? Therefore, my piece of advice to corporate, please do not set a definition of an ideal candidate, select a candidate for your company keeping view of 360 degrees in the organization then only you can retain him. Be confident that the boss will be able to handle talent leadership exhibiting qualities.
Prof. (Dr.) Dewakar Goel
Chairman, Aero Academy of Aviation Science & Management Executive Director (HR)
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