Tag Archives: talent

Davos 2011 – Fondue, Cheese, Chocolate and Jobs.

This week sees the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  Amongst the fondue, cheese and chocolate, their is important work to be done by the great and the good in Business and Government to take advantage of rising business confidence as evidenced by the Business Confidence Survey from Global Accounting Firm PWC.

PWC interviewed 1,201 CEO’s from 69 countries over the last three months of 2010.  The headline finding from the survey evidence that business confidence has returned to levels not seen since before the economic crisis that started to engulf the world in 2007.  48% of those surveyed are “very confident” their business will grow in 2011, an increase of 30% on the same period in 2009.  Such confidence levels have not been seen since January 2007 (when they sat at 52%).

Yet more encouraging is the fact that this confidence is not driven by any specific region.  Confidence levels are up across the globe.  Unsurprisingly, the most bullish of those polled were to be found in India and China followed by the perhaps less obvious Thailand, Columbia and Paraguay. The least confident were found to be business leaders in Western Europe.

The exception to this rule came from Austria and in particular Germany, where a staggering 80% of CEO’s polled were “very confident”as to the performance of their business.  What is clear from the survey is that this confidence is driven by a belief in the growth of the global economy as opposed to more localised markets.  A presence in emerging markets is essential for sustained success.

So what does all this mean for jobs?  More good news in so much as just over half of those polled plan to hire new staff in 2011, with just 16% expecting to cut headcount.  This is up from 39% on the prior year.

Just where those jobs will be created is the big shift and it keeps shifting.  Increased skill levels globally mean that global business can select talent in the region that best meets its customer need.  The war for talent is truly global.  Those countries that offer high standards of education and develop rich pools of talent, that create the conditions to encourage inward investment, that retain flexibility of labour and offer working terms and conditions that protect employees and give them the freedom to flourish will win.

Employers know this.  At no other time in history has business been so mobile, so global.  Governments that are experiencing rising unemployment must get out from behind the fondue at Davos and listen to those Business Leaders, engage with them, debate with them.  Those that don’t will lose out, those that do will enjoy economic prosperity for years to come.

So much of business and economic growth is about confidence.  That confidence is there.  Time to seize it.


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A smart investment in future talent

Last week KPMG, the global consulting firm, announced plans to launch a 6 year training programme to turn 100 of this years school leavers in to Accountants.  The specifics see KPMG working with 20 schools in disadvantaged areas to recruit 100 school leavers in to BSc Accounting and Finance.  This will then be followed up by a two-year post degree training programme leading to a professional accounting qualification.

Tuition fees and accommodation costs will be covered by KPMG for the duration of the degree programme.  Starting salary post degree for accounting trainees will commence at £20,000 per annum and is expected to rise to around £45,000 once the training course has been completed.  The target is for around 400 pupils per annum to be recruited in to this scheme.

Last year we had McDonalds announce they were to introduce and support degree programmes for staff.


Is this part of a wider trend amongst employers to support further and higher education?  Clearly the rising costs of tuition fees inflames passions, as we have witnessed from the recent student demonstrations.  The issue of employee engagement is firmly on the agenda and talent attraction and retention is a challenge for so many.

KPMG, like many firms offering training schemes, suffers from having many who qualify leave to other businesses who then benefit from that investment.  Will starting early and supporting education and professional training in this way strengthen the psychological contract between employer and employee?

I for one am not convinced.  Employee engagement is an ongoing commitment.  However, this is not just about a great pr move, it is part of a genuine commitment to invest in giving school leavers a better future.  We should not just rely on government to fill in the gaps.  The private sector needs to take a longer term view about the talent of tomorrow.   I for one applaud KPMG, McDonalds and those like them for investing in that future.

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Is it ever a good time to go back?

Growing up in England in the 70’s and 80’s with a passion for football that engulfed my life, Kenny Dalglish was a superstar.  My statement is not born out of blind hero-worship (since the age of five I have been an Arsenal fan).  Dalglish was the star player and then Manager of a Liverpool team that swept everything before them to become the most successful team in English Football history (cue complaints from Manchester United Fans.  Sorry, statistically this is true).

This weekend Dalglish was re – appointed Manager of Liverpool Football Club, having resigned 20 years ago.  It is a great move from a PR perspective by the employer.  To draw business parallels, Dalglish is the Shareholders choice, the person on whom the hopes of resurrecting former glories rests.  The club is in disarray, they have not been champions of the top division in England for 20 years.  Much has changed in that time.

The Premier League is a global product, full of hugely talented players ( and some less so ) from all four corners of the globe.  In 1991 when Dalglish resigned, players in the top league came from all four corners of the British Isles.  Dalglish has held a couple of Manager roles since, but with nowhere near the same degree of success that he enjoyed with Liverpool.  Is he at risk of destroying the legend?

Should you ever look back to a former employee to return a company to former glories?

It’s a brave move by Dalglish.  The hero-worship he enjoys amongst Liverpool fans will protect him from  inflicting any long-term damage on the Dalglish legend.  It will certainly buy him and the owners of the club time.  Time that perhaps a Manager without the same history and status within in the club would not enjoy.    He has a massive job to do, not least on employee engagement.  The team look disillusioned, disenfranchised, disjointed.

Time is against him.  He has only been appointed until the end of the season.  The opportunity to create even a 12 month plan is not available to him.  He must create a short-term vision, communicate that vision, ensure all are behind that vision.  Those that don’t buy in, he must move on.  He has major recruitment issues to address as the club has arguably only 3 players that are talented enough to meet the vision the majority of stakeholders (the fans) have for the club, but he has little time to do it.  Can he attract the right talent with only a short-term objective to communicate?

The appointment has certainly lifted morale.  There are examples in business when a superstar CEO returns to transform a business.  Think Steve Jobs at Apple. Business and Sport are short-term results games.  In business it’s all about this month, this quarter, this half-year, this annual return to shareholders.  Sport is even more short-term, it’s all about the next game.  In both cases, you are only ever as good as your last result and stakeholders can have short memories.

For success you need a long-term outlook, a clear long-term vision,  to be given the time to build that vision.  The short-term nature of much of sport and business means little time is devoted to succession planning, to developing the leadership stars of the future.  As a result success is only ever short-term.

The success that Liverpool enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s was built entirely on constant planning not only for today but for the future.  Dalglish was one of a long line that read Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish.

He was the last in the line.  He didn’t build for the future, didn’t plan for his successor and Liverpool has suffered ever since.  Will he do it this time?  Can he build a platform for the future on which the club can enjoy sustained success?  Only time will tell.

It is a short-term move that reeks of desperation, of lack of a vision and long-term plan by the board.  They have put a tourniquet on a gaping wound and stemmed the flow of blood, for now.  Unless the club gets major surgery fast, the legend that is Dalglish will be tarnished.  Is he the man to deliver it?

Employers and Shareholders need to be patient.  Hire slow, fire fast.  Keep moving forward.  Look back to learn the lessons from history.  Build for the future from the lessons of the past.    Steve Jobs is a rare example.  Don’t go back, go forward.  In the meantime good luck Kenny, you are going to need it.


Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Recruitment

Why we have too few women leaders

Five years ago I was invited by a large Investment Bank to a recruiters forum to debate gender diversity.  Specifically the issue being addressed was why there weren’t enough female managers in Investment Banking.  How are we going to attract them?  Where are we going to get them from?  How will we retain them?

It was a frank, open, grown up, honest debate.  A lot of good ideas and initiatives were suggested from those 50 or 60 recruiters and HR PRofessionals in the room.  I don’t know how many of them were implemented, but five years on and the debate still rages.

So why doesn’t 50% of the population of the planet occupy 50% of the top jobs?

The numbers speak for themselves.  190 heads of state, 9 are women.  Women occupy only 13% of all the Parliamentary seats available on the planet.  84% of top jobs in the corporate world are occupied by men.  In the not for profit sector, a sector often assumed to be occupied by more women, men still assume 80% of the leadership roles.

From an employers perspective, we are limiting the pool of talent from which we select for leadership roles to only half that available.  Why does this happen?  Particularly when all the research evidences the more diverse an organisation, the more long-term sustainable success it is likely to enjoy.

Rather than give you the perspective of a 38-year-old Anglo-Saxon male, I thought it would prove more insightful to get the perspective of someone who really knows from personal experience the journey that women must take in order to achieve leadership responsibility.

Sheryl Sandberg is the mother of a five and two-year old.  She is Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.  A Harvard MBA, her CV also includes Chief of Staff to the US Treasury and Vice President of Online Sales at Google. She also helped establish the philanthropic Google.org

If you have 14 minutes 58 seconds to spare I implore you to watch this.  There is much here from which we can all learn.  If you don’t have time, I would love to know your views.  Let me have your comments.  Why do we have too few women leaders?

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Dont be Evil – Googles Hiring Process

Do you remember a time before Google?

15 years ago Google didn’t exist. Today, Google has a market capitalisation of $190 bn, employs around 20,000 people worldwide and enjoys more than 90% of the Search Engine market share in the UK and more than 66% in the US.

Google is an integral part of our everyday lives. It has become part of our everyday language. To google is now a verb. Aged five my son was already telling me to “google it” if I was unable to answer his latest enquiry (a regular occurrence ).

How did they do it? Two great minds alone would not have been enough. Great ideas, incredible innovation would not have made it without great people. Without hiring exceptionally talented people and knitting them together to form incredibly effective teams, Google would not be the success it is.

Today the brand alone will inevitably attract talent. That was not always the case. Google became a great company because it hired and retained great people. It didn’t become a huge success and then start hiring the very best. It hired the very best it could possibly afford from the outset and applied a rigour and discipline to its hiring process from day one that would be the envy of many. It has stayed a great company because it continues to apply the same principles to attract great talent that made it successful in the first place.

You don’t have to be Google to attract exceptional talent to your company. You can, however, learn from them. Here is yet another brilliant interview from www.MeetTheBoss.tv on the hiring process at Google. You can start applying these principles in your company today.

“My problem is I hire brilliant people. So 95-99 percent of my people are high talent. They really, really are. The people here are good. So we don’t use traditional methods.” Liane Hornsey from Google explains her methods of hiring people

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Recruiting and retaining talent in tough times

An interesting perspective on the value of great people to an organisation came from a customer of mine recently.  This particular CEO and his HR Director proudly showed me round their new production facility that had harnessed some of the most leading edge technology in their field.

I commented (with my usual lack of technical insight) on how incredibly impressive the new set up was.  The response from the CEO said much about this particular organisations attitude to people.

“The machinery is nothing without great people.  Take the people away, the machinery will sit idle.  Take the machinery away and the people will go out and find new machinery and new ways to ensure our customers get what they need”.

It’s an obvious point, but this CEO really lives out this view in his actions every day.  I could see it not only in his comments but in his interaction with the other employees as we toured the site that morning.

Unsurprisingly this particular employer has little issue with attracting and retaining great people, despite the many challenges facing them in their market place.  The attitude from the top is prevalent throughout the organisation.

Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.  Create a great vision, give a compelling purpose, be honest, frank and open.

It is not just people, but the right people who are an organisations greatest asset.  So how do you go about attracting and retaining the talent you need to flourish in tough times?

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Filed under Hiring, Recruitment

Is the grass greener?

There are times when I am convinced that I was born in the wrong country.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a fiercely proud Englishman.  It’s just that I love the sunshine.  From November to February I seem to live my life in the dark, up in the dark, travel to work in the dark, come home in the dark.  I don’t feel as if I see daylight for four months.  It is a form of hibernation.

It would appear I am not alone.  A survey by job site http://www.escapethecity.org found in the region of 70% of executives surveyed are considering a move abroad to live and work.  Among the more popular destinations were Asia, Australia and Africa.  France and Spain still feature among the top five destinations, but migrating south to our warmer Eurozone partners has become increasingly expensive as the pound has continued to decline against the Euro.

The results of this survey are not just simply about the weather.  Dig deeper and you’ll find this is more about the pursuit of happiness than it is about chasing sunshine.  Of those surveyed, just 10% felt that their current job was their vocation.   70% admitted to being bored at work.

This is about chasing a dream.  People want something different, they want to feel as if they are contributing to something more than just a bottom line but find it hard to break from the routine, lifestyle, comfort and often necessity of income.

The results of this survey are not about where you live but the sense of belonging, purpose and connection with what you do.  You can get such connection anywhere in the world.  In a global war for talent, employers are going to have to come up with increasingly innovative ways of connecting with their employees or risk increasing staff turnover and decreasing productivity.

David Cameron is proposing a national measure of happiness alongside traditional GDP as a way of evidencing the progress we are making as a country.  I shall be interested to see the results.  With only 10% of us enjoying a vocation and 70% of us bored, there is much to be done to lift the sense of satisfaction that people have in the workplace.  This is both the responsibility of not just employers, but the individual to understand more about their motivations and the state to create the conditions that encourages people to pursue their dreams.  I accept this is something of an ideology but people are peering over the fence and asking if the grass may just be greener on the other side.

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