How big companies are competing for talent directly with the people they should want to hire
Some of the brightest young minds are realizing they can do it on their own. I’ve always said and believe that things are cyclical. Although I may have been off on my prediction of the return and glamorization of cigarettes, trends come and go and then come back again. In terms of today’s entrepreneurial society, I think back to the days of trades and apprenticeship. Replace a craftsman with today’s company-starters and you have the modern day version of individuals dedicated to a niche skill or idea.
What is the impact on larger corporations?
Corporate society has shifted and is circling around creators and the next big idea. It’s apparent by all of the modern conveniences and attention that support entrepreneurs: Entrepreneur Magazine, the Square Reader, crowd funding, Shark Tank etc. Although there have always been inventors and founders, this culture in its current form didn’t exist 20 years ago. I support entrepreneurs and am excited by all of the innovation. I am a one myself. But what is the impact on larger corporations? Big companies used to employ these bright minds, train and develop them into thinkers, innovators and leaders that would grow within and contribute to the financial health of the organization. You went to school, were hired accordingly and voila, you were on your way up the ladder on a set path. There was, and still is, something to be said for loyalty. Big companies are competing against the very people they should have been hiring. This particular battle for talent is one against an individual’s desire. How do you compete with passion and the urge to create and live on your own terms?
Foster the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Many large organizations realize this and are creating internal incubators, projects and ventures to foster the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a great start to provide an offering of balance to young talent. The “you can have it all” package: Stability, financial reward, autonomy and a creative outlet. It sounds really appealing. The only problem is that it does not offer failure, sole-ownership and the passion and excitement that challenge us to lengths we couldn’t imagine possible. This offering comes from creating our own path, which seems to be the path of choice right now. Loyalty still lives and remains a driver, but the focus of loyalty today has shifted.
That leaves large corporations with a couple of options.
Develop the talent they currently have and be content with grooming future leaders down a traditional career path. Or, start taking risks by encouraging true freedom. Big companies need to begin shifting their thinking to the front-end of the grooming and development process. Young CEOs and innovators are creating their ideas early—some not even finishing undergraduate degrees—and starting companies. If corporations could hire these young executives out of school, they would at least have a fair shot at showing what the corporate culture and value could be of staying with the organization. But why would a bright creative thinker want to do that and how can organizations get their attention up-front?
Allow, maybe even encourage, them to leave. It may sound absurd to push your up-and-coming talent out the door, but at some point everyone asks “what if?” and wants to know what the grass looks like on the other side. Create an open door policy that encourages innovators to pursue their dreams. Maybe companies help support and fund completely independent ventures for its employees. Support their start-up, not a company-owned one. Another idea is to support an external career move, with the idea of rejoining the organization down the road. I don’t have all of the answers as to how this would be accomplished, but this is the way big companies should be thinking.
It seems risky, but there is a lot to be gained. Imagine how successful entrepreneurs could be with just a couple years of big corporate experience under their belt? That is a large organization’s selling point. How about a corporation that will also support the start-up? The larger organizations would be put in a favorable light. Think about the positive brand impact and potential alumni association. If the internal culture is attractive, chances are high that many individuals would defer their initial plans and stay with the company.
Encouraging employees to focus elsewhere may seem a bit radical today, but you need to think disruptively to truly compete. Your talent is out there taking risks. Innovate and follow suit.
Prior to founding Webber Kerr, Adam began his career in financial services and co-found a mid-size human capital services company.
Adam received his a BS, Human Resources, from Michigan State University.