Talent Development and U.S. Energy Policy

It’s pretty clear that the U.S. is overly dependent on foreign oil.  We don’t have adequate domestic exploration and production capability and so we buy our oil from other nations – many of them hostile to our way of life.  Sure, it’s business; but the fact remains that many of the governments from whom we buy oil aren’t our close allies.  This has implications on so many fronts:  on the availability of oil (think Hugo Chavez); on the price of oil (think OPEC); and on the costs of finding new oil (think BP and the Gulf of Mexico).  But ultimately, it’s a failure of energy policy.  By not having a vision of internal sustainability and not investing in new domestic sources of energy and experimental technologies, we’re dependent on the kindness of some not-so-nice strangers.  These may, and some would say already have, ultimately threaten our national security.

It occurred to me the other day that many of our organizations are proceeding down the same path as it relates to talent management policy.  If we think of the skills and talents of our employees as our organization’s energy, then how many of us are investing in new domestic sources of skills and talent?  Rather, aren’t many of our organizations overly dependent on foreign sources?  On hostile sources?  This may not be national security, but it certainly is business survival.

By not investing in the internal talent pipeline to increase engagement and reduce the dependency on foreign (outside) hires, aren’t we going down the same path?  Many of our organizations will soon find themselves held hostage by the confluence of the following forces:

  • Rapidly declining U.S. worker productivity (U. S. Department of Labor Q2, 2010)
  • The rising level of job dissatisfaction in the U.S.  For the first time more of our workers are dissatisfied than satisfied. (Conference Board, 2010)
  • Surveys showing that between 40-95% of U.S. workers are or will be looking for a new job before the end of the year. (Spherion 2010 Labor Day Workforce Survey, Regus)
  • The continued projected decline of educational levels together with the exit of large numbers of baby boomers from the economy will put US organizations at a competitive disadvantage. (SHRM research, 2010)
  • Baby Boomers are ready to negotiate a different kind of employment “deal” because they need to work longer than anticipated. (McKinsey Quarterly)
  • The cost of buying talent on the open market is rising.

Seal of the U.S. Department of Energy

It looks to me like we’re doing the same thing with talent that the U.S. has done with oil:  we haven’t invested in the future by exploring new domestic technologies; our practice of buying what we need from outside sources has made us vulnerable to our “competitors”; and the internal sources we do have seem less productive and desirable. 

Whoah.  Bottom line?  I hope HR is able to get out in front of the talent pipeline by creating a compelling vision for the long-term benefits of investing in the development of our current energy supply.  Unless that happens quickly, many of our organizations will find themselves cut off from the lifeline of their business sustainability:  the skills and talent they need when they need them, where they need them.

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6 Comments

Filed under China Gorman, HR, Leadership, Talent development, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Talent Development and U.S. Energy Policy

  1. Nicole

    Check out this video

  2. Crazy, I know. What’s ironic is that survey after survey after survey I’ve seen this year (and HR/business folk I’ve spoken with) validates over and over again how many organizations agree that leadership development, succession and workforce planning, coaching and mentoring, employment engagement and retention, and training and development are of the highest priority.

    But yet when it comes to actually doing it, we’re not doing a very good job of it. And those who are aren’t always tying the investment back to the performance goals of the organization.

  3. China, since there is an expected decline in education levels (at least here in the U.S.), wouldn’t it behoove businesses to invest more upfront in programs like internships, in order to basically form “farm teams”, if you will, in order to have a more plentiful supply of younger workers who will be ready to step up to the plate (to continue with the baseball metaphor).

    Interns thus become known quantities. They also become some of a business’s best evangelists, drawing more like-minded and like-quality workers toward a particular business.

    • Intern programs are a great way to create relationships with those entering the economy — or making a change in direction. And there are many more ways to invest in the development of talent already on the payroll. With a few exceptions, many organizations see this “investment” as a “cost” to be reduced. Short sighted for sure! And potentially disastrous for the future of the organization.

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