It’s no secret that in these times where valuable experienced employees are retiring and new young professionals are switching jobs after each few years, management needs to pay attention to preserve the vital competencies which make the business tick. An advantage can be that resource refreshment will contribute to change and the ‘external’ perspective can provide new insights, but the general trend of an aging workforce in the Netherlands will force change and that is not always a good thing.
At the Open Collaboration Society, we work with our partners to develop coaching, training and consultancy that is practical, applicable and available for anyone to assist in their managerial challenges. One topic that that stands out is the protection of unique competencies.
But what is a competence and why should I protect it?
A business employs its resources to create value. These resources are a composition of the right assets and matching capabilities (what you do with these assets). Where assets are purchased and thus available for everyone, the capabilities (competencies and practices) are what creates the value. Examples of competencies include: skills, talent and experiences. Examples of practices include: routines, procedures and culture. In the past decennia there has been much debate on how to improve the practices with numerous methodologies as a result, but without having the necessary competences, who will execute these practices?
Isn’t technology the answer to everything?
In an era of digitalization and automation many companies look at technology as a driver for innovation and it is tempting to use technology to protect the competencies as well. But technology is not always the answer. While automation without a doubt contributes to continuous quality and robotizing enables many processes to be executed (without the worry of the robots walking out the door), there is still a need for skills, talent and experience. They are unique qualities of your employeesyou’re your company. It is what seperates you from your competition.
But I have clever young professionals.
Skills and experience can be acquired. We humans are a species with huge learning capability and this has served us well throughout the ages. Talent is identified during this learning process and often finds its way into the more successful businesses. To learn a required skill is often a lengthy process. Especially for the professions where the technology contribution cannot replace the development of ‘the feel’ for something.
Up to the 21st century this wasn’t much of a problem as many employees sought a professional career with a long-term commitment and stayed employed for a lengthy period at the same company. The company invested heavily in the development of the unique (but required) skillset and the employee repaid the company by providing the skills in return and receiving payment. The current millennium generation is more and more interested in new challenging opportunities and seeks much more cumbersome skill developments. By having virtually all information available through online resources they are used to the concept that everything is possible. Many young professionals therefore choose to have a change in scenery every 2 to 5 years making it difficult for companies to retain the required skillset within the organization.
% of workforce per age-group with employment of < 2 years in The Netherlands
Demographic info: Where-as only 6,1% of the elderly workforce (age 55 and above) is switching jobs the millennium workforce switching is 53,35%
If you can’t win the game, change the rules of the game.
Adapt your business to available competencies, as you would when other types of resources become unavailable, could be the answer. But when resources are becoming scarce, the market will announce this by increasing prices or providing you with a warning that triggers your supply chain management so it can mitigate the impact for your business. But how successful is supply chain management when it comes to the competency resource? If a resource becomes suddenly unavailable there is always warehousing that provides you with stock but how do you stock competencies?
Adapting your business for competency variation is always reactive. If a competency is about to leave your company, you might receive a one month notice but that is by far not enough time to change your business’s dependency on that competency.
Does this mean it is too late?
Whenever you decide to invest in 1). Technology, 2). The human skillset or 3). To change your business model, it is never too late to mitigate the effects of changing competencies. It will probably not close the gaps you have next week but having a sustainable competence supply and an agile business model will provide solace for the near future.
What can I do this week?
It all starts with the identification of the individual competencies that make up your uniqueness and create your competitive advantage. Only then it becomes possible to classify them for the sustainable improvement direction. If you want to read more, please visit our blog.
To get a quick and early result please contact OCS for an intake and we will get you started right away.
OCS provides competence identification services using a proven methodology that will identify your competitive advantage, the resources that enable this advantage and the (unique) competencies that you should be protecting.