Maximising the potential of your team and unlocking talent pools you didn’t realise you had. It’s about skills, not titles

Human beings have a knack of over-complicating things. Unlike any other species on the planet, we always have an eye on the horizon, and self-imposed roadblocks at our feet. With the change in the PR/Creative/Media industry, which continues to revolutionise the marketing landscape, I can’t help but think we are at one of these ironic junctures. New job titles are thrown about willy-nilly as if they will automatically bridge the skills gaps which are becoming more abundant by the minute, but I can’t help think it makes more sense to throw out all job titles, than add new ones. It’s a far out concept, but for those that understand tech, are we not at a point where functioning like a cloud computing environment is not just a better option, but the only option? By that I mean, implement a working model where teams and leaders draw on skills from individuals, when and where they are needed, from wherever they are within the business. This is in distinct opposition to force-fitting people into categories that mandate behaviour, as is the current way of doing things with specific titles and departments. It fights against the ‘it’s not my job’ attitude. And it gets the right people on the right projects. This fluid model, which I call ‘best-in-class teaming’, aims to mimic the best parts of a start-up, where great minds and attitudes are forged into one compelling desire to excel. The idea is, you’d second talent from pools, based on a catalogue of their proficiencies, interests, experiences and capacity. It would radically impact management techniques, but keeping a system because changing the managing of that system is too hard is a blatantly flawed rationale. Imagine the rate of innovation that could be embraced! Imagine how longevity of employment might increase! People wouldn’t need to change roles for a new challenge, because each day would bring fresh challenges, encouragement and successes.

Still, this is a big idea and big ideas take time to catch on, so let me be a little more practical. This if nothing else should be a step in the right direction. Ever wonder how much talent is limited by a fear of letting go and embracing new ideas? One everyday scenario where this antiquated management thinking manifests is in pigeon-holing talent based on industry. So rare is it that a Comms Pro in one industry will venture into another, I just had to Blog about the issue. While in some regards there is a genuine fear skills don’t transfer, more often than not, given the right encouragement, they not only transfer but flourish!

I recently caught up with a friend who explained about how she’d made a successful transition from a senior comms role within a telco to an FMCG organisation. Here’s what she had to say:

What were you concerned about prior to making the transition? “I worried that I was throwing away 10+ years of knowledge and contacts I’d built up in the telco/tech sector which would be meaningless in my new role.”

What is one key thing you have learned having made the change? “The fundamentals of business and communications are the same whatever industry you work in. While knowledge of a sector is useful, it’s something you can pick up over time. Ultimately you’ve been employed for your functional ability and cultural fit. It’s not necessarily about what you know but how you apply it.”

What would be your advice to someone thinking about making a move? “Don’t let the fact that a role’s in a different industry put you off applying. I almost didn’t apply for my new role because I thought I wouldn’t get a look in. In reality, they were looking for someone who’d worked in a regulated industry (didn’t matter which one) and who’d be a good cultural fit. Someone who’d worked in an FMCG was not on their list of criteria.”

Would you encourage more people to move amongst different industries? “I’d encourage people to apply for roles which will give them something they’ve never experienced before. It might be a new industry, operating environment (eg. multinational versus Australian listed company), culture or market/country. The most important thing is that you’re adding a different perspective to your core skill set.”

It’s true what they say – fortune favours the brave!

– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter

4 thoughts on “Talkin bout a revolution! Getting the transition right

  1. I’m all for it, after all I’m the poster child for successfully changing industries! HOWEVER, I would caution everyone to NOT apply through a recruiter to do this, because recruiters are briefed tightly by our clients, and when there is a recruitment fee attached, clients will expect an exact match to their brief. They’re more open minded when people come to them directly.

  2. Great post! I completely agree about skills flourishing when transferred between jobs, it’s time for businesses to realize the maximum potential of employees! I also think businesses need to encourage their employees to try new things and be allowed to fail- to truly uncover their potential

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