Talent Development and Investing in People

Talent investment

Dylan Gillis on unsplash

With the beginning of Industry 1.0, employees were seen as mere cogs in the machine. The focus of their employers was to figure out how to best extract the use of their employees, in order to swiftly convert it in as many objects produced as possible, for as little a cost as possible.

Frederick Taylor – the inventor of scientific management

During the 1910s there was a predominant management technique that started to be used; a spirit of the age, so-to-speak. Its name came from its inventor, Frederick Taylor.

Taylor sought to maximize productivity by eliminating as many useless moves, breaks, and actions as possible. Each worker was seen as a tool that can be enhanced/altered to better boost its productivity.

Needless to say, Taylorism did not see it through much longer, as the focus was put on workers as direct capital generators, not as humans with different work styles, talents and the like.

A vestigial organ of the bygone Industrial Revolution, Taylorism can be seen as a necessary step in the current focus on workers as people.

Worker’s rights, unions and overall awareness of the inhuman treatment of workers deemed a logical transition to more humane ways of treatment. From this standpoint, the 20th century can be seen as a conscious effort to treat workers as more than mere cogs. 

“We have entered a global economy where talent and skills shortages challenge world economic and business growth around the world.”, are the words of Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum.

People and companies alike saw that the best way of conducting business is to see each worker as an individual, a human being, not a tool. Not only from an economic standpoint but also regarding personal development, career development, etc.

Talent development has been in focus for some time now for companies alike. It’s important to provide a place where people can grow their technical skills, organizational skills, people skills, etc.

Imagine that a company decides to not invest in the development of its employees. Those employees will see themselves as being just exploited for their current value.

There’s no incentive for the employer to grow the employee, as it can easily replace it with another one. With low employee happiness and high turnover rates, companies cannot hold on to talent.

The keyword here is talent, as in talent development. If the company, on the other hand, decides to invest in the development of its own people, there will be a much higher incentive for them to not leave the company.

This is because, with genuine effort and interest in the development of people, the value provided to those people can be seen for what it is: honest efforts into talent development.

Keep in mind, if the only motivating factor for employees is the remuneration provided to them by a company, then the most cherished talents of that company are already with one foot out the door.

It only takes a single company offering them a plus in remuneration for them to jump ship. Thus, companies that invest in other aspects of development tend to better keep their talented people.

Frederick Herzberg – introducing job enrichment and the Motivator-Hygiene theory

In support of this affirmation comes Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory, which introduces two concepts: hygiene factors and motivators.

The motivators are the factors that by existing, do not increase the overall productivity and motivation of the employees. But if they lack or are sub-par, then they do attract employee contempt towards the company.

These are factors such as salary, security, status, etc. An employee doesn’t feel motivated or grateful for her salary, as it’s to be expected. If she doesn’t receive her salary for a month though, then demotivational or downright suspicion on her part comes into play.

Sure, you might say, an increase in salary is a motivating factor. And it can be, but only for a small amount of time, as people tend to get used to the new promotion, seeing it as the new baseline (Hedonic Adaptation Theory).

Thus, it’s important for companies to focus on actual motivators (as the source of motivation, duh!) and demote the hygiene factors from the role of motivators.

Actual motivators, such as recognition, achievement, growth, responsibility correlated with accountability, etc., are factors that truly increase motivation for employees.

Actually being part of something important makes an employee generally happier than the same employee working a soul-sucking job, but highly paid (which is also relative, depending a lot on what her peers earn).

This is one reason why at Mobiversal, we put a lot of emphasis on the importance of training, mentoring and helping our colleagues grow and develop, not only technically but on all sorts of plans, be it career-wise, personal, etc.

We also talked about this subject in our book, From A to App Success: How to turn ideas into apps that make a difference, chapters 8 and 12.

We consider the mentorship phase to be extremely important for future success. Mentorship programs are held for every position, because we believe that everyone can benefit from having a mentor, especially in the beginning.

To sustain these efforts, we started a year ago to concentrate our efforts under a single veil, with Mobiversal Academy. It is an ongoing effort on our part to provide a platform for learning where our internal employees get to read summaries of books on specific topics of interest (for their position and not only), technical workshops and one-on-one hands-on mentoring efforts for the technical and non-technical people alike.

We also try and sustain mentoring efforts for our hometown of Oradea’s tech community, by enrolling willing university and high-school students into a practical internship where they get to learn directly from our developers, marketers, business analysts, project managers, etc.

Because we value talent development and think of it as a fundamental value of ours, we keep workshops and courses for the technical and non-technical colleagues of ours. For example, just last week we had a technical workshop held on SwiftUI for our iOS developers by one of our developers, Daniel Szasz.

Daniel Szasz (top right) holding a workshop on SwiftUI

On the same note, Appointfix’s (a Mobiversal product) project manager, Adrian Cioară, held a course on “The Age of Digital Consultants” for the technical team.

The purpose of the course was for the project manager to introduce the concept of digital consultancy, a skill that is expected of the best technical people, as the changing global business environment demands more and more the adoption of a more client-oriented perspective.

Adrian Cioară, about “The Age of Digital Consultants”

An important added value that differentiates the technical expert of the past is that they didn’t (and weren’t expected to) bridge the knowledge gap between them and a non-technical client. What a good technical person of today does differently is that it’s able to provide valuable information to a client, with regards to their product.

Basically, they bring to the table not only their technical skills and expertise, but they’re also able to effortlessly communicate with the (non-technical) client, coming up with accurate advice to the problems discussed.

“The Age of Digital Consultants”, a subject of the Mobiversal Leadership Training Program under Mobiversal Academy,  seeks to invest in the professional development of our more technical colleagues.

All in all, we believe that the best investment is in talent. That’s why we strongly believe in mentoring, growing and teaching each other, focusing not only on our strengths but especially on our weaknesses, Mobiversal Academy being an expression of this core value.

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