A few years ago at the closing session of the Ohio SHRM Conference, the keynote speaker asked for all of the men in the room to stand up as part of his presentation. Six of us stood up in a room well over 400 people. After the sounds of laughter subsided, the six of us sat down. I am in a field that is predominantly made up of women, and yet men still get the majority of focus in companies in many ways.
The workforce of 2015 is becoming a better mix of how society looks. More and more women are in leadership roles and diversity issues are being addressed in more forthright way. It is exciting, but much of this shift is just happening because the population is shifting. Companies are hiring new people who are available, and those workers look less homogenized than they did ten years ago.
Talent Advisors need to be intentional observers.
Too often, we get buried in the midst of the pace of day-to-day demands. However, when we do that, we lose sight of people around us. Our employees show up every day to work, but we don’t take any particular notice that they are there. We expect them to be at work, and, to be honest, we spend far more time on compliance than we do on their wants and needs. We track those who don’t show up instead of using our energy to develop those who come every single day.
You will be more effective in your role as a talent advisor by stepping back and making sure that people don’t get missed or fall through the cracks of the organization. An area that still has a great opportunity to grow in companies is the development of women and minorities. We assume that our “diversity programs” will make sure no one is missed, but those programs are often the lofty equivalent of cat posters that hang on walls. Behavior takes action, and we have to be the ones who make sure that action occurs.
Development is also something that doesn’t occur nearly enough. We have massive performance management systems that make for great report cards, but they rarely develop anyone. Developing talent is needed both for people to perform well in their current roles as well as a method to identify leaders for the future.
Organizations are still predominantly led by white Baby Boomer males, and I’m allowed to say this since I am in human resources, and I’m a white male who is a fringe Gen Xer. There is a bias that exists where we will develop people who are more like us than those who are different than us. Talent advisors need to develop all employees. In doing this, we can also make a significant difference.
I believe that HR can pull people together, based on their strengths, and combine people who may not be the “same.” We can help employees learn from each other. We can make this happen in project teams, mentoring programs and through organizational design.
As intentional observers, we can never assume. We have to be the ones who see everyone and make sure they’re noticed, accounted for and connected to the organization. Taking this intentional action is an important first step to ensuring that nobody is left behind.
So, shed your biases and step back. Take note of all of the great people who work with you. Step up and make sure everyone gets developed and unified. Being observant will make the assumptions dissipate, and you are sure to find hidden talent come to life.