How Agile Are You When it Comes to Talent?

To thrive in the fast-paced digital age, organizations need to assemble a nimble workforce of talented learners who can grow with the company’s needs, agreed CEOs gathered at a roundtable sponsored by Cisco Services called “How Agile Are You When It Comes to Talent?”

“You can’t have an innovative agenda without having the right kind of talent.” —Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn (pictured above), VP/GM, Business Enablement and Strategy, Cisco

The continuously changing nature and diversity of skills needed means organizations must empower their workforces with knowledge and flexibility, as well as arm them with the digital tools and technology necessary to access that knowledge any time, any place.

Seeking Skills
The first step is having the right people. “You can’t have an innovative agenda, an agenda to collaborate, co-create or any of that, without having the right kind of talent,” said Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, vice president and general manager of business enablement and strategy at Cisco Services. But the way companies are finding that talent is changing. “A lot of organizations hire to a resumé. That’s not working anymore. You can’t find the kind of skills you’re looking for,” she said. “The skills gap is real. It’s in the tens of millions and, depending on your industry, you have to think more creatively about finding that talent and developing it with a learning-based culture.”

Chuck Smith, president of NewHire, pointed out that companies do need to try to find the “jigsaw puzzle pieces” to fill in their skills gaps, but they also need to be able to hire entry-level talent that can be trained and brought up in the organization to fill future gaps. “The question is, how do you balance those two things when you’re a smaller company?” Smith asked.

It’s important to do both, even as a small company, said Beliveau-Dunn. “We see most organizations are successful when they do some strategic buys, but do a lot of build. It’s sort of like the ‘80 percent build-20 percent buy’ strategy.”

On the build side, companies are employing new ways to deepen employee perspective and help them grow. BRR Architecture, for example, shifts individuals from studio to studio, said Joan Redhair, vice president. “That way, they get a more well-rounded approach or view of our business.”

C.J. Prince :C.J. Prince is a regular contributor to Chief Executive and other business publications.