The first step to solving the talent shortage

Let us infuse some fresh energy into the big issue facing leadership—the workforce—or, to be more specific, the shortage of talent.

We all face a headwind regarding the people in our organizations—it is a perfect storm, and we must navigate with finesse. How long will the storm last? According to the latest U.S. census data, we are in for a dry spell until around 2030. This is when the workforce pool will recede to a small pond rather than the expansive ocean we have been accustomed to.

Expectations for the coming years

Projections show that the number of working-age Americans will continue to drop until 2027, then slowly start to increase.

We can put an asterisk with those numbers. This does not consider the possibility that the U.S. government will revise immigration policy and enlarge the size of the workforce by changing governmental policy. It could happen …

Causes of the talent shortage

Where do we place the blame for the drought? It depends. Demographic shifts are shaking things up like musical chairs. As baby boomers bid adieu to daily productivity, they leave a gap to fill. At the same time, the very nature of work itself is changing quickly. It’s like trying to fit square pegs into round holes—the mismatch between demanded skills and what the workforce brings is fundamental.

Interview Bootcamp D

It is not just the job descriptions—it’s the pay scales. Organizations will find themselves in a fierce tug-of-war over skilled individuals, driving up wages and benefits to secure their services. When resources are scarce, organizations must do whatever it takes to survive.

Low numbers of working-age adults aren’t the only storm clouds on the horizon. We also have artificial intelligence marching steadily forward, threatening to overhaul traditional job landscapes faster than you can say “restructuring.”

Confront the problem from the top

Now, on to today’s question: What should you do during this chaos?

You must conduct a symphony with each human resources factor playing its unique note. We need a harmonious approach that is as smooth as jazz and as dynamic as rock and roll.

Your first task is to start with your most important asset, keeping your high-quality people in general and high-performing people in particular. The first part is to identify your existing high performers. You probably don’t know who all of them are because they don’t cause problems. The real danger is neglect—we seldom pay much managerial attention to the good ones. We think they are doing just fine, and we tend to spend our time and attention on the squeaky wheels.

At the same time, high-performing employees want more than just a paycheck—they crave meaningful work, growth and a sprinkle of unicorn dust in their work lives.

Pay meaningful attention to them, nurture them, engage them and watch them flourish. Or stay the course and continue to ignore them at your peril. Increase your listening and hold on to those high performers like they are the last slice of pizza at a party.

The big takeaway

Key point: All high performers are not the same. High performance is defined by task and by individual job fit, not in general. Each job has a set of knowledge, skills and abilities that fit the individual to the task. This means you will not have a single set of characteristics that fit all employees to every job; rather, high performers will be different from job to job.

The tricky question is: Are you willing to change how you manage and spend more quality time with the high performers? Future winners will be agile leaders willing to adjust their efforts and focus on what matters to the most essential part of their sustainability.

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and join the retention revolution? The future of leadership is calling. Let us rewrite the narrative and challenge the status quo while recruiting and retaining a workforce ready to take on whatever storm comes our way.

Who’s with me?