The Impending Talent Shortage

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion and debate over the so-called “Talent Shortage” for the last few years now. My question is this: Have you done anything beyond just ponder the potential consequences of this scenario? Specifically, have you taken any action either strategically or tactically to make sure that your business has the necessary talent to continue to be competitive in the market as the employment landscape changes? In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts on what I believe is a very real threat to many businesses that do not make adequate preparations…

Let’s begin by looking at some of the numbers surrounding the state of the US labor force:

  • The current American labor force numbers more than 76 million workers who were born between 1946 and 1964. 
  • Extrapolating on the demographics mentioned above, estimates are that as much as 40% of the US workforce will reach traditional retirement age by the end of this decade.
  • The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be 10 million more open positions in the United States than available workers by 2010.

On the basis of pure numerical analysis the story conveyed in the previously referenced bullet points creates a foreboding scenario for growing US companies. I have read many opinions that point to outsourcing jobs abroad as a potential solution to the talent crunch. After all, the impact of globalization on burgeoning labor pools in emerging markets such as India, China, Korea, Russia, Brazil, etc., is nothing short of phenomenal when compared to that of the US. However as is usually the case numbers only tell part of the story. The reality is that the Talent Shortage is not US centric, rather it is a truly global crisis. Just a few months ago the staffing agency Manpower Inc. released the results of a survey of more than 36,000 employers in 27 countries. It turns out that more than four out of 10 employers around the world are already having trouble hiring the right kind of staff for the right kind of money, and the problem is only getting worse.   

Let’s look at India as an example…India is a country that puts almost 3 million highly educated workers into their labor force each year. India accounts for 65% of all IT work performed offshore producing more than 400,000 engineering graduates a year (5 times as many as the US). However demand is starting to rapidly outpace supply even in India. Consider that last year alone Accenture had plans to hire 20,000 just in India,  Infosys planned to hire 25,000, TCS has a headcount ramp that called for 30,000 new hires, Microsoft attempted to hire 7,000, and list goes on. Keep in mind that these numbers were just for Indian hires alone…As you can see the competition for talent is already fierce and the full impact of the global talent shortage hasn’t even come close to reaching its peak.

The bottom line is that companies who are not already focused on full cycle talent management initiatives will be left in the dust by more aggressive competitors as the supply of available talent continues to constrict. It is the companies that today apply serious and focused efforts toward embracing proactive talent management strategies that will be most likely to win the war for talent. If you think you can ignore the numbers outlined in this post, or that you have plenty of time and can wait until later to address the issue I believe you may be regrettably delusional in your thinking. 

The Benefits of a Top CEO Coach

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The question is; you’re already the CEO so why should you make the investment into retaining a Top CEO Coach? The obvious anwswer is CEOs simply have more to gain from intelligent counsel than any other person on the org chart. Given the nature of the position, along with the numerous studies, which provide ample data affirming the extraordinary results that can be achieved by utilizing a top CEO coach, I’m always amazed at the number of CEOs who don’t yet have a coach on retainer. In today’s blog post I’ll examine the reasons why I believe all (yes, I said all) chief executives should leverage the services of a top CEO coach.

As bright, talented, experienced, motivated and savvy as most CEOs are, they are only one person. Moreover, CEOs are the individual in the company most likely to be operating in a vacuum. The only thing CEOs can count on is their performance is constantly being evaluated by virtually everyone in the value chain. Combine that with the fact performance standards and expectations are constantly being raised, and it is no wonder that CEOs often feel overwhelmed. The simple truth is, there is no more difficult job than that of the chief executive. This is largely because the proverbial buck stops with the CEO as he or she is expected to have all the answers and make all the tough decisions.

Executives who rise to the C-suite do so largely based upon their ability to consistently make sound decisions. However, while it may take years of solid decision making to reach the boardroom, it often times only takes one bad decision to fall from the ivory tower. The reality is in today’s competitive business world, an executive is only as good as his/her last decision, or their ability to stay ahead of contemporaries and competitors. CEOs who don’t maintain an edge will be replaced by those who do. One of the keys to maintaining such an advantage is to find someone who can keep you on the razor’s edge (see why CEOs most often call me).

As the CEO, the reality is you have no true peers within the business, so where do you turn for advice and counsel? If you’re like many CEOs, you’re put in the awkward position of seeking feedback from those individuals reporting to you. This is not where you should seek unbiased information, as it’s unlikely your subordinates will tell you the hard truths or provide you with open, candid criticism of your actions. They are certainly not in a position to hold you accountable, or most times, even provide you with intellectually challenging input.

Most successful chief executives make heavy investments in building their skill sets, knowledge base, and subject matter expertise early in their careers, only to make minimal investments in their professional development when they reach the C-suite. It is however at the C-suite level an executive must be on top of his/her game as they have the broadest sphere of influence, the largest ability to impact a business, and they also now have the most at risk. It is at this point in the career lifecycle the CEO should make the heaviest investment in refining their game because it’s at this level increased performance will pay the biggest dividends.

Wouldn’t it be nice to seek counsel from an objective third party who has walked in your shoes, and is not caught-up in office politics therefore having no axe to grind or turf to protect someone who has an extensive network outside your business and is a true intellectual and experiential peer of yours? A top CEO coach can afford all these benefits and more…

In addition to my operating duties at N2growth, I also maintain an active personal advisory practice where I’ve worked with thousands of leaders around the globe, including working directly with more than 150 public company CEOs (most of whom are Fortune 500 chief executives). For most of these professionals, the decision to retain my services was driven by one of two distinct motivations;  some had a defensive motive wanting to protect what they had worked so hard to achieve, and; others had an offensive motive looking to take their companies or careers to the next level.

Regardless of which camp the aforementioned CEOs fell into, they were already very successful people who recognized that its lonely at the top, and that they could not afford to keep operating in a vacuum. I actually have a few clients where I am just one member of a coaching team that is on call to deliver real time advice and assistance when the need arises.

I don’t actually like the term coach as a descriptor for what I do as that particular label can tend to give the wrong impression. Sure, in some cases I coach and/or mentor, but most of my clients simply view me as their closest personal advisor. As their advisor, my role is to serve them in the manner of greatest value whether it be behind the scenes or in plain view. Over the years I have played the role of ambassador, emissary, influencer, facilitator, expediter, personal brand manager, lobbyist, buffer/shield, crisis manager, negotiator, publicist, strategist, tactician, collaborative thinker and a variety of other roles as needed. These are the capabilities chief executives should look for in a coach. I urge you not to settle for anything less than the best advisor available.

The question is not whether coaching will provide results, rather, it’s can you find the right coach capable of producing the results you’re looking for? While my personal practice is somewhat limited in terms of the type and number of clients I work with, we have other coaches that can assist you, or I can provide you with referrals to other professionals outside of our firm. Regardless of how you find your advisor, you should consider asking the following representative questions when evaluating a potential coach:

1. Who’s paying the coach? It is my recommendation that you personally retain the coach or use company funds under your discretionary control. You want someone whom you can trust implicitly, and whose loyalty is pledged to you and you alone. If the coach is being paid for by the board of directors or company investors then while you will likely still receive good advice, the coach’s loyalty will reside with someone other than you.
2. Is your coach qualified? Remember that the coaching industry is full of practitioners that paid a few hundred dollars for a professional designation, but yet have little or no real experience. Make sure that your coach not only possesses a track record, but that their skill sets and competencies are relevant to your needs.
3. Does your coach have references? The best indicator of a coach’s ability to help you will be based on how he or she has helped others…No successful clients’ equals a coach that should be avoided.
4. What does the coach charge for his/her services? Remember, you get what you pay for. If your coach is only charging a few hundred dollars a month it’s likely representative of the caliber of advice you’ll receive. If your total annual compensation is well into the seven figures, and your company is producing billions in revenue, then you can afford to (actually you can’t afford not to) retain the services of a tier-one coach.

In closing, I’ll issue an open challenge to any CEO reading this post: I can come-up with a virtually endless amount of legitimate reasons and benefits for why you should leverage the services of a top CEO coach, and I’ll bet you can’t come-up with a single valid reason (excuses are not reasons and don’t count) why you shouldn’t. If you would like to discuss how coaching can benefit you or your executives feel free to contact me. If you still have doubts about coaching Click Here to see what other noted executives and the media are saying about retaining an executive coach. Best wishes for continued success.

Competitive Separation…

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Competition is clearly part of any free market economy, and quite frankly, a little competition is a very healthy thing. That being said, competition can quickly transition from serving as an incentive to stay on your game to an outright disaster if your company, product, service, brand and talent are not up to par with others in your industry. As a CEO or entrepreneur how you choose to deal with, and position against, competition has a very direct impact on the success or the failure of any enterprise. The name of the game when it comes dealing with competition is to create separation . You can significantly increase your chances of leading the pack by creating a competitive edge. Having a competitive edge simply means possessing either a strategic or tactical (preferably both) advantage over your competition. A good competitive advantage doesn’t usually materialize by osmosis, but rather it is normally established as a result of solid strategic planning and strong operational execution capabilities.  The first step in the process is to understand your market. Before you can even remotely begin to accurately identify your competition, it’s crucial to first define and analyze your target market(s) by conducting some preliminary market research and business intelligence. It never ceases to amaze me how many organizations fail to validate proof of concept before making huge financial commitments and embarking on flawed initiatives. At a bare minimum at least adhere to the basic process outlined below which will allow you to validate your business logic: What are you selling and to whom is it being sold? Next, make a list of those companies trying to do the same. What are their strengths and weaknesses, their strategies and goals and how do they position themselves in the market and attract new business? What, if anything, makes them stand out from the pack?  If you don’t currently possess the vital information mentioned above, I recommend moving heaven and earth to acquire it quickly. I’m not suggesting that you operate in awe of your competition, nor do I believe you should fear them. That being said, you absolutely must find out who they are and what makes them attractive to current and potential customers. Assessing your competitors openly and honestly will play a key role in helping you develop a competitive edge. Remember, winning companies aren’t successful by accident, though often it may seem that way. A closer look usually reveals that most have sized up their target markets and zeroed in on a unique approach to meet their customers’ needs, values and expectations. Through important considerations like location, product, services and product features, they have somehow found a fresh spin, a new way to offer buying incentives that similar companies either can’t or don’t offer.  

Once you have developed a competitive edge, maintaining it will be a constant challenge. It will require you to move from retroactive, historical analysis to a place where you are forward looking in your approach in order to forecast where the trends and changes in your industry will come from, and what your company can do to stay ahead of the curve. Maintaining competitive separation demands that you continuously track your competitors and their future plans. You will also need to recognize that through over time your market is likely to change and evolve due to any number of circumstances, many of which may be beyond your control. Your company must be flexible and willing to change as well. The following questions are designed to help you determine whether your company has a competitive edge:   

 

  • Does your company have a clearly defined vision, mission and strategy? 
  • Is your target market accurately identified and understood? 
  • Who are your companies primary, secondary and emerging competitors?
  • Does your company have an ongoing business intelligence effort that tracks ongoing competitive efforts? 
  • Does your company exploit its competitor’s weaknesses? 
  • Does your company assess and learn from both internal and competitive mistakes?
  • Does your business leverage competitive opportunities? 
  • Does your company possess a uniqueness that easily separates it from competitors? 
  • Given the choice would you use your own product or service or that of your competition?
  • Does your company command a premium or discount price and is this by design or default?
  • Does your company regularly assess customer loyalty and satisfaction? 
  • Is your company sensitive to customer needs and requests? 
  • Does your business focus on innovation?
  • What is your company doing today to insure that it has the capabilities and resources to compete in the market five to 10 years from now?

The bottom line is this…Given today’s competitive market, if you continue to address the competition in the same fashion that you have in previous years you will see your market share erode, your brand go into decline, your talent and your customers jump ship and your potential never be realized. Remember…Disrupt the competition and prosper; don’t and suffer the consequences.