There is no talent shortage

We are short of something; but it’s not talent.

I find it hard to make sense of the “shortage of talent” that we read about.  When I see schemes for high performers, I wonder about the other performers.  If you are a HiPo and I am not; what does that do to my performance?  How does being a HiPo impact my relationships with noHiPos?  Subconsciously. Who decides who is HiPo or noHipo?  How is that decided?  How do we decide who are NoPos?  What are our criteria for doing so?   How do we know that the noHiPo aren’t actually full of HiPo?

And then I think about diversity.

And I think about the difficulty people of colour, people over 50, people with disabilites have getting work and I think about ever narrowing selection criteria along with confirmation bias; unconscious bias, conscious bias.  And then I hear we have a shortage of talent.

Something is very wrong.  The UK has relatively low productivity in comparison to our country peers.  Could any of this be linked?  I think so.

Some hypotheses:

HiPo is a way of reinforcing and maintaining the status quo; the notion that some are superior to others, have inate abilities that others don’t, a manifestation of the class system?

I speculate about the confirmation bias in recruitment and my hypothesis is that this is fuelling the notion that we have a talent shortage.   I would like to see some data about recruitment; what are the demographics of those typically recruited through the agency route, and what are the demographics of the recruiters?  What would this tell us?  Perhaps a useful piece of research for the CIPD and Recruitment Federation to undertake.

If we saw everyone as HiPo, even when they may not see themselves like that; would we then be genuinely inclusive?  How would that impact our businesses if our people development includes everyone and didn’t decide who was HiPo?   If we were truly inclusive, non hierarchical, assuming everyone has equal potential – diversity comes into its own.  This doesn’t discount succession planning; just makes it much more likely that you will have a truely diverse senior population and that in turn would lead to more diversity of perspective …. and so on.

Selection –  it’s like a narrowing of the arteries is taking place;  is “talent” the person that can tick all the boxes … or someone that can tick some and have potential, energy, commitment?   Do we always want people who are 100% ready and do we always reject people who have many years experience and perhaps have realised seniority isn’t all it was cut out to be?  There’s a similar mindset I think in procurement of coaching/facilitation – as @tonyjackson said to me recently “the best coaches aren’t necessarily the best sales people”.  I think exactly the same applies to people applying for jobs.  If you write one CV every ten years; you probably are going to get scoffed at by a recruiter somewhere that takes exception to your font, your stating of hobbies or your long winded description of something you are proud of.   If the arteries continue to narrow…… is needed, and a lifestyle change.

There is no talent shortage.

What are we short of then? Imagination? Courage? Love?

What a lot of potential to do this so much better.

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