These are just some of the headlines screaming out of leading newspapers. So what does an organization do about talent development in such tough economic times – should it be treated like other operational levers which are pulled to reduce costs?
My opinion? Now is the best time to invest in talent development.
Sounds insane? No. Here’s why-
1. When things are going well, people are ‘too busy’ or ‘too successful’ to take the time to pursue a learning initiative, leave aside apply the learning at the workplace. Today staff are far more focused on up-skilling.
2. A large number of people have grown through the organizational hierarchy as a result of their technical skill base, less so as a result of their ‘conceptual’ and ‘human skills’. Now is the time to pause and implement a range of talent development strategies focused on these gaps as ‘minds may be more open’
3. Investment in talent development in these times has long term ramifications in terms of building company loyalty since the support and investment is available when it is most needed.
4. An objective assessment of individual capability is far easier since the historical perspective becomes less relevant as the focus is towards building a “new order.”
5. To create a new order, a ‘back to basics’ approach must be adopted where the fundamentals rather than experience play a larger role. Learning initiatives are key to refreshing these business fundamentals.
Of course the question that must be answered is “where will the funds come from since now is the time for some short term fixes”. To quote Ramsay Clark, “Turbulence is life force. It is opportunity. Let's love turbulence and use it for change”. While a number of today’s success stories may be form a part of the ‘successes gone bust’ section of management reading of the future, and others may be in panic and cutting costs indiscriminately to survive, now, when the rules of the past no longer hold true, is the time to invest in building talent for the future and sustaining the cutting edge as far as human resources is concerned.