The way that businesses operate is changing in many ways. Concepts about effective leadership are changing, as is the prevalence of flex-time, shared jobs, working virtually from home, and the need to influence with or without authority based on a title or pay grade.
Companies are looking for outside-the-box thinkers and leadership abilities at all levels from the mailroom to the boardroom.
They want a "new school" way of thinking and not the "old school" mentality that what worked before is good enough.
Employers are complaining they cannot find new hires with the skills they need, and their bottom lines are suffering.
Would-be employees -- particularly recently minted college graduates -- are complaining that they can't find positions that give them the chance to fully demonstrate their skills and talents. Their confidence and belief that they will have the careers they desire, and be able to meet their personal career goals, are suffering.
Let’s take a look at how to resolve this situation. Of course, I’m not suggesting the overall economy doesn’t play a large part, but there’s nothing much you or I can do about that on an individual level. So, let’s stick to things we can do something about. Let’s start with employers.
Employers, HR departments and other hiring managers: I’m talking to you. Are you running your business/team/division/department old school, or new school?
Old school: You hired the best people that you could find and hoped they worked out. If you couldn’t find the right people, you’d insist on the staff you already have putting in overtime to compensate.
New school: You bring in training or coaching as needed to improve the critical "soft skills" of your staff members so they can be the best (and hope that you can keep them happy enough so they will stay). If you can't find new hires who have the exact skills you need, then you hire them based on their education, eagerness to learn, willingness to "pay their dues," fantastic attitudes, and with the knowledge that they will bring other valuable skills to the party. Again, you recognize the importance of training them in the exact skills you need, and reap the benefits of your foresight by having a more productive team that communicates well with each other and clients.
Old school: When you needed leadership or management positions filled and no one within the ranks was right for the position, you’d hire from the outside. The idea of building a leadership pipeline from within hasn't crossed your mind.
New school: Because your people receive ongoing access to professional development offerings, you have a much larger pool of internal candidates who show tremendous promise, not to mention tremendous loyalty because of that training. Training gives people the opportunity to rise beyond where they are now in so many ways that benefit your company and your staff. Training is truly a win-win investment in your company's future success!
Now, I want to talk to the job seekers, employees, and would-be inhabitants of the corner office with the view and six- or seven-figure salary. Are you a new school kind of person in an old school company? If so, how can you advance?
Old school: You wait for your boss to organize training. You sit back, do the best you can, and hope to get noticed. If that doesn’t happen, you look for another job, where you hope your skills and talents will put you on the fast-track to career nirvana.
New school: You become accountable for your career and seek out the skills you need to get ahead on your own. You take stock of where you are, where you want to be, what or who you need to know to get there, and you develop a plan. This strategy might include getting a sponsor or a mentor. It might include brushing up on your leadership skills, your communication skills, or your writing skills.
New school is all about taking responsibility for your business or your career and not waiting for things to happen.