In the current and future job market, highly driven by candidates on the one hand and greatly impacted by increasing complexity of issues on the other, strategic recruitment is becoming an imperative for organisations not only to flourish but to survive. Failure to modernise and adapt talent structures and management practices will lead to the loss of a competitive edge in the short term, and an increasing inability to integrate and leverage new skills and perspectives from the broader job market. Ultimately, leadership needs to connect with talent at the intersection of these trends, or their organisations will struggle to thrive.
In concrete terms, there are three priorities to consider that can help prepare for, integrate, and leverage the future job market for their greatest benefit:
- embracing true diversity,
- adapting to the new strategic time horizons, and
- reassessing the implicit relationship between managers and those they manage.
When it comes to diversity, it is easy for many – feeling pressured by the movement of the market – to prioritize short-term or superficial policies, without integrating what diversity means into their way of thinking and doing. Bringing different perspectives to the table is an investment in organisational flexibility and resilience. The enhanced ideation and innovation that tends to follow are essential to all industries.
Diversity also applies to professionals with different backgrounds, be they from atypical sectors, non-technical backgrounds, or outcomes of non-linear academic or professional paths. While the ‘ideal’ mix of multidisciplinary or diverse skillsets vary by team and by industry, the returns on such investment are significant and long-term in nature. This is true thanks to the fact that effective, strategic talent management in this direction demands a more holistic view of what constitutes knowledge as well, one which reflects the added value of different backgrounds, skillsets, and experiences which make the organisation itself more agile in turn.
Decisions concerning where to retain an emphasis on technical depth, and where to invest more in complementary competencies, require a focus on what knowledge can be developed institutionally or shared on the job, and what knowledge requires dedicated focus and mastery that cannot be achieved “by doing”. By acknowledging that not all knowledge can be measured on the same scale, nor can it be earned in the same way, it logically follows that more conscientious attention needs to be paid to synergies and in-role training to ensure the right team balance and composition.
This ties in to the second consideration, which is to re-examine how and when leadership conducts organizational planning and review. With teams more strategically built around synergies and diverse skillsets, assessing where teams are likely to be and what skills will be needed in the next 5-7 years is no longer enough to ensure balance and make talent investment decisions deliberately. The pace of change has become so rapid that more frequent self-initiated audits are needed both internally and externally, in order to understand what the broader market and policy ecosystem will look like and how an organization will need to adapt to meet them.
This is more than just a question of planning, however, and can yield human-centric dividends as well. More frequent and skills-focused reflections as part of a sustainable leadership mindset help redirect investments into greater in-role training and opportunities, reflecting on the importance of re- and up-skilling as part of a forward-looking organization. For both current team members and newly recruited talent, the knowledge that management decisions are taken with long-term strategic considerations in mind reinforce an ingrained sense of belonging and value – they join a team that considers them not as mere executors of a function, but as contributors that help their organisation function to peak performance.
This reflects the idea that special attention must be paid to the rate of change itself: while long-term investments are needed to maximise sustainable security, rapid shifts in the job market can demand greater flexibility, tailored training investments, and the ability to refocus priorities and resources. Extending planning in both directions, encompassing more immediate and long-term horizons, reinforces the need for mechanisms to assess, reassess, and amend strategic thinking to happen more regularly. Enshrining a culture of high-frequency, low-disruption course corrections where needed will allow managers to be more responsive and interactive with their teams, while ensuring organisational leadership remains engaged in developing a change mindset that helps shape internal and external narratives rather than being a victim of change.
Finally, it is important to bear in mind that no matter their backgrounds employees and candidates put a great deal of importance on simply being treated seriously. However trivial or obvious it may seem, in practice there can be many ways in which decisions about work settings, processes, and planning take autonomy out of the hands of those with a clear stake in the matter, relegating people – often lauded as “our most valuable assets” by well-intentioned leaders – from proactive protagonists to passive participants in their own professional lives. While organisations can and should put frameworks in place that ensure that individual choices don’t directly clash with operations or mission-critical functions, sacrificing flexibility for homogeneous rules risks sending a clear message that individual empowerment comes second to managerial convenience.
[The recommendations above are drawn from a high-level workshop on strategic recruitment as an investment into sustainable management delivered by Mavence’s Managing Director, Brussels, Anna Koj. Further insights on strategic recruitment and sustainable management can be found in an article published earlier this year.]