We’ve been thinking lately about moving house. Well actually it’s something we’ve been thinking about on and off for years. A three bedroom house isn’t ideal when you have three children, and we don’t have much outside space. The only thing that has put us off to date is the cost. There’s surveys and reports and advertising, and that’s before you decide on what you can afford to buy.
My quandary got me thinking about the property market as an analogy for the jobs market. Along with the UK economy, both have been picking up lately. I’ve seen more “Sold” signs, and heard about more employment moves, over the last few months than I did in the previous few years. Employers who have not predicted, or prepared for, this upturn in fortunes are bemoaning the lack of talent as they look for “ready made” candidates to meet their requirements (and fair dues to them, economic fluctuations are extremely unpredictable). Just like finding the perfect house, finding the perfect employee can be difficult, or even impossible, if you’re not sure what your looking for, or if what you want doesn’t exist.
And then there’s the age old question of whether you should improve what you already have, or move on to something new. Unlike in previous depressions where the L&D budget was the first to go, figures have shown that investment has been increasing in above inflation levels. Does this mean companies have been building their internal talent? It’s difficult to tell for certain due to a lack of data, but the general feeling is that company development programmes are better than they used to be.
I think the problem comes when it comes to home grown talent taking the “next big step”. Talent programmes tend to be more prolific as people are starting their careers, as apprenticeships and profession based training. Internal initiatives for growing new managers are rarer, largely due to the catch 22 that the majority of management skills are learned on the job. We can easily move onto the next rung of the property ladder, if we have the required funds, but moving from front line to management position requires a degree of faith.
As with lots of things, it’s about balance. Having a planned talent management programme with well defined outcomes is a good start. I don’t wish to take the property analogy too far. After all, people aren’t saleable commodities to be traded once deemed unsuitable. Also, the vast majority of people move rather than improve, and as far as organisations are concerned, the balance should most definitely be tipped in the other direction.