Sourcing Talent Predictions for 2021 & Beyond

2020 marks The changing of the guard, The training of the guard. The evolution of the guard. 

Career growth for many in the 12 months of 2020 has scaled by a factor of 5 years, at least. The ride’s been… bumpy to say the least. People have changed, your talent has changed.

In today’s soundbites, I’m finishing my cup o tea and performing my talent tasseography (Tea Leave Reading). 

The Rise of the Hybrid
It’s a simple narrowing of the pyramid. The base and middle management layers of the triangle are losing width. The reduction to staffing costs means leaner and flatter, workloads haven’t reduced as a result and many have taken on additional responsibilities. The return of the generalist is here and for good reason, 2021 and beyond brings a whole lot of “not knowing”. Business Continuity Planning and managing risk effectively means ensuring effective knowledge transfer and sharing exists. 

Where hybrids lack depth, suppliers pick up the expertise require, particularly in our era of supplier certification and empowerment. Diverse experience is diversity in stories. The more stories or scenarios one has faced the better position your teams are in to handle an unpredictable environment. Nails need to be nailed, screws need to be screwed and you’ll probably need a monkey wrench too. Hiring a hammer leaves you two tools short. The Swiss Army Knife is again the coolest accessory.

The Hustler

Businesses need more leaders. Not by title or status, but by attitude. The sourcing grind has always been a hard path to follow, but now there’s less room for the guy or gal that coasts through the 9-5. A conversion from Minimum Viable Participation toward Maximum Viable Performance. Extra Mileing = Survival and the initiative/ proactive attitude is leadership that stands the best chance to see the ship through the storm. 

Vertical talent 

As we look to work closer with supply chain partners continuing the maneuver of responsibilities from buying offices to our principles, the need for talent with experience across the value chain increases. Manufacturers have been taking advantage of the oversupply of talent across the industry by hiring role players who’ve experience on the brand sourcing side of the business. The competition for the new viable supplier’s capacity as a result of trade implications is shifting leverage. Demand will rise for guy or girl who’s got manufacturing experience coupled with strong, positive and empathetic relationships. Suppliers want to work with someone who can bring reciprocity to their business. 

The Further Unlocking of the Experienced 

2 years ago I flew United Airlines to O’Hare. Whilst buckling up I finally clicked to what was an obvious contrast with the Cathays & the Emirates’ of the sky when a gracefully grey haired cabin crew asked the plane to fasten up. The airline had locked into a pool of talent that can be described as the class of “not ready to retire yet”.

Flying over the Atlantic I had better service than most other carriers. United Airlines Service > Cathay Service.

People are involuntarily retiring later in life and in parallel older age groups have never been physically younger. The sourcing talent pool supply is short of new supply, it’s hard to notice in this period of freezes. but supply is dwindling. The old guard is still the guard. 

Youth is overrated (unless you’re willing to trade off experience for cost). The innovation assumption is that it takes someone young/fresh/ techy to pioneer disruption.

Innovators are storied individuals. More experience = more stories

The travel whiplash

When we do see the unlocking of travel global supply chains will without a doubt see an increase in collisions. Leaders and their teams will put plans & strategies to execution across their vendor supply chains. Time & Talent resources will be stretched and we’ll see quick reversals of frozen hiring in the industry, this won’t be at scale considering the mentality of “throwing bodies” at the work is over.

The reflective soul

Through 12 months of the year many if not all of us have been in a state of self-reflection. The soul has changed, shifts that are hard to witness over zoom. A state of reflection increases our awareness, it changes our thinking patterns and the actions that we decide to carry out. Leaders have their hands full with the management challenge of the decade. Leading the post-pandemic employee.

Appreciating Evolution

If things do calm down in the next few years we’ll be left with wartime leaders and operators. Challenge conditioned crisis teams. The value of the teams that s̶u̶c̶c̶e̶e̶d̶ survive this period increases as people have been flexed and stretched. Harnessing the power in this new class of talent will be critical as retailers look to meet their customers.

Power shifts & leapfrogging

Teams in Covid controlled states are in a position to leapfrog their peers in lockdown / WFM economies. I’d wager that growth and development increases when we are in the company of our company. Have your teams in more stable states taken on more responsibility and performed admirably? Probably. 2020 has been the materialisation of “If they can do it, then so can I!” Powerfully empowered talent pools exist where none existed before. This will be the acceleration of production country empowerment.

The walkers & market thinking dangers

The visionary without the executionary ability is cheap. Ideas alone are shallow, seamless execution has been the money in the pandemic era. The global supply chain is within a phase of hyper talk, outside actors have piped up about fundamental shifts to the industry, hailing retail’s savior in the form of mass customisation, 3-D printing, sustainability. What outside actors don’t highlight is the half step, by half step, by half step in order to action a dramatic supply chain shift. We’ve been over contented, over-informed and overly distracted. Many are at risk of being…

McKinseyed: adjectiveProblem solved by outside actors without inside industry knowledge nor know how.

Don’t be McKinseyed

The talker walkers, visionaries that roll up their sleeves and dig in on the front lines with their teams are worth their weight in gold. 

Harnessing the wind at your back

Many are excited about a return to work, inside an office. Facebook’s acquisition of prime real estate in Seattle is an indication that the company values “collisions”. People will be pumped up to get going again inside the same four walls as their colleagues. When they do return, they’ll come back with a fire and intensity unlike we’ve seen before. A new productivity window is dawning and organisations need to shift toward outcome-driven operations in order to maximise the wind’s blow.

This is the “glass half full” version of the shift in talent. I’m not a half-empty kind of person.

I’m optimistic, so stay healthy, hopeful and keep it radical.

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