The War for Talent – The War for Jobs

Here’s what prompted these thoughts. The Texas Rangers lost game one of the World Series last night, and for those of us who like the Rangers, we hope to rebound quickly.  But, as I watched, I pulled out my iPad and starting reading about the Cardinals‘ manager, Tony La Russa.  The third winningest manager in baseball history.  (#2, like Tony, had a law degree.  Isn’t that interesting?)  He has won 2 World Series, one in each league, as well as manager of the year 4 times, again in both leagues.  He is, what we might call, a very serious, valuable piece of talent.  He doesn’t have a very long list of true peers.

So, I started thinking about talent.  Here’s what we know.  There’s not enough good talent to go around.  Good, valuable, long-lasting skills are incredibly important.  And even as we read and hear about the unemployment rate, we also read about the jobs that can’t be filled, for lack of specific talent.

“A players.” That’s what every organization seeks…  Jim Collins famously wrote that we need to get the right people on the bus. (And we need to make sure the bus is the right bus, going to the right location).  Finding the right people is hard work, but very important work.

Talent is shorthand for a key employee who possesses “a sharp strategic mind, leadership ability, communications skills, the ability to attract and inspire people, entrepreneurial instincts, functional skills, and the ability to deliver results.” It’s also an overarching personnel characteristic that organizations of all kinds will require…
The better the talent, the higher the performance.
(The War for Talent).

The War for Talent…  The Coming Jobs War.  The first phrase is the title of a 2001 book (which I presented at the December, 2001 First Friday Book Synopsis).  The second, the title of a just-released 2011 book. (I’ve only read the first of the two).

Just a few years ago, there were seemingly more jobs than needed to go around, and  companies were in a bidding war for the best talent.  Now, there are more job seekers than jobs available.  I know a bunch of folks – a bunch! of folks – who are now “independent contractors,” because their companies shut down their departments.  “Talented” people!  Some of them are successful, some still struggle.  But plenty of them remember the “good old days,” when work was sure and benefits came along as part of the package.  It is this loss of benefits, especially health care packages, that seems to have serious ripple effects, and do more than just a little to create uncertainty and unease.  (Not to mention some actual, serious physical problems.  When health problems are ignored, and treatments delayed, far more serious problems follow along).

Here’s the Amazon info about the more recent jobs book, The Coming Jobs War:  What Every Leader Must Know About the Future of Job Creation, written by Jim Clifton, Chairman of Gallup:

Drawing on 75 years of Gallup studies and his own perspective as the company’s chairman and CEO, Jim Clifton explains why jobs are the new global currency for leaders. More than peace or money or any other good, the business, government, military, city, and village leaders who can create good jobs will own the future. 
The problem is that leaders don’t know how to create jobs – especially in America. What they should do is recognize that the world is in a war for jobs.

I think this really does need to be agenda item #1. We have cut and slashed and cut some more so many jobs that uncertainty permeates the land.  And people without jobs, and people insecure in their current jobs, discouraged people, lose a little  (sometimes more than a little) of their self-confidence.  It’s time to help a nation get its self-confidence back.

I’ve put The Coming War for Jobs in my reading queue.  I have been writing for quite a while on this theme:  Where Will The Jobs Be?  I hope we find some answers, sooner rather than later…

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