Within the marketing and creative sectors, the shortage of skilled candidates is a major barrier to growth for the industry and businesses operating within it.
The reason for this can be attributed to a whole host of scenarios from fewer people entering the industry during the downturn, to universities struggling to adapt course content in-line with constant industry developments, to internal promotions, counter offers and myriad other factors.
Insight from daily conversations with both candidates and clients suggests another key factor may well be the lack of investment in training, development and coaching, which can be a barrier to entry into the industry, as well causing many to leave the sector due to poor development.
This is a conundrum many managers find themselves in when recruiting and growing teams. Employers are often so busy that they require someone who can ‘do the job’ on paper, or has evidence of doing exactly what’s required in a previous role. This can make for a very transactional relationship between employer and employee: “do this job and you’ll be paid”.
The reality is that candidates and employees look for much more ongoing engagement in their working life and the best employers (who are unsurprisingly often the one's candidates most want to work for) look deeper when recruiting in order to garner long-term success.
Consider not just what a candidate has achieved before but what he or she might be capable of – and if they don’t tick all the boxes initially, decipher which ones aren’t ticked and what investment would be needed to bring that person up to scratch.
Waiting for the Golden Goose of candidates can unnecessarily hold businesses back from commercial prosperity. The time spent searching could have been invested in developing a candidate (internally or externally) to the point where they do tick all the boxes and it may well be that they become a more engaged and committed employee in the process. Too many employers don’t stop to work out the net gain of investment in training.
The importance of developing someone isn’t the only key for those seeking new jobs, it’s important for your current team too. In a candidate-led market, headhunting is rife. Every employer wants good people and more worryingly, they want your good people.
Interestingly, whilst we all go to work in order to earn money – and a pay rise is always welcome – recent studies show that over 80% of employees are more likely to stay in a job that offers on-going training and development. It stands to reason, as we all want to progress.
So what do development and training look like? It isn’t just an expensive external course or playing a DVD in the boardroom, it’s also on the job coaching and mentoring.
We often talk about the difference between “telling” and “coaching”. With time always precious, when a member of your team comes to you with a question or a problem, the chances are that as a more experienced professional you know the answer, so for speed, it’s easier just to tell them what to do.
This often results in complacency; rather than employees thinking for themselves, every time they’re not sure what to do they’ll find it easier to ask, rather than taking the time and brainpower to figure out a solution. As much as people enjoy the security of knowing how to handle a situation, long term it doesn’t drive motivation or personal development and also puts a strain on line managers who become inundated with endless questions.
It can be a hard habit to break, but forcing yourself to pause what you’re doing to coach the person through the situation can be hugely beneficial. Rather than just telling them what to do, ask engaging questions, ask their opinion and explain the reasons for any advice you might offer. More often than not, employees know the answer – it’s about coaching it out of them. This might be time-consuming but it results in more confident, skilled and empowered employees who are less dependent on management, which should have benefits across the entire team.