In today's workforce, a high IQ isn't enough
Written by Curtis L. Odom, Ed.D.
In a recent study by Price Water House Coopers, 53% of CEO’s said that they see a lack of skills as a major challenge facing their organization. So, what’s being done about this? Has your organization made any significant changes to help up –skill your employees? Are you investing dollars in the learning and development functions? Or are you hoping that benign neglect will eventually work for you and that the university system will start pumping out more highly qualified employees than ever?
It’s not just CEO’s who are worried about the skills shortages. Employees themselves feel the pressure to upgrade their own skill set. According to an Accenture report, The Learning Enterprise, nearly 55% of workers feel pressure to acquire new skills. But here’s the catch, only 25% of them actually feel like they are getting the support that they need.
It’s simply not working. We’re not preparing for the future if we don’t invest in the present. I recognize that this is a shared responsibility that needs to be tackled from the earliest levels of education all the way through corporate learning initiatives. The fact is we need to start acting differently if we’re serious about taking on this challenge. Doing what we’ve always done, isn’t working. It’s time for a new approach, one that balances public and private partnerships to help develop a flexible and agile workforce. There are a few ways to accomplish this. If we’re serious about changing the way we operate we need to value and reward the right skills and behaviors.
We know for certain that behaviors are what drive results. We also know that behaviors are driven by emotions. Emotions are contagious. We have an open loop system. Emotions spread quickly. Keep this in the mind the next time you see a group of kids giggling in a park, watch how quickly the laughter spreads. Or conversely watch how quickly kids gang up on one another. When groups of people are working together, they create a micro climate. This climate is impacted greatly by the emotions and behaviors of the ‘leader.’ Leaders have significant influence on our ability to perform and our capacity to adapt to new challenges and new stressors. The point is, IQ isn’t enough anymore. We need to start embracing emotional intelligence. And we need our leaders to do it now.
A fresh approach to intelligence
We also need to embrace learning agility. We need to start teaching our kids and our employees how to become intellectually curious. We need to adopt a new standard for how we view intelligence. And we need to reward individuals who are curious about not only the ‘what’ but the ‘how’ and the ‘why.’
From a skill perspective we need engineers, scientists and mathematicians. This is nothing new, not earth-shattering news. We need human resource professionals that can develop talent and create cultures that support, recognize and reward the right behaviors. We need right brain thinkers and we need left brain thinkers. We need teachers who can instill the right behaviors early on and who open people up to learning and development. We need people that are highly detailed, but we need people that are highly creative.
Selling ourselves short
In a world where talent is growing scarcer by the day, we need everyone on board. We can’t keep focusing on one skill set. We’re selling ourselves short if all we keep focusing on is math and science. Yes, there’s a skill gap there, but we’re about to come into an age where there are skill gaps everywhere. The Boomers are leaving. We can’t afford as a society or as organizations to solely focus on one area. We need to focus across the board. We need engineers who are politically adept. We need human resource professionals that are financially savvy. We need people to be agile. We can’t afford to grow people in silos anymore.
A high IQ isn’t enough anymore. It’s table stakes, get smart or get out. We want people that can lead. People that have the emotional intelligence to flex when needed. People who understand how to forge forward in the face of uncertainty while continuing to motivate their people to follow. We need leaders who care and employees who are willing to try new things.
We can do this. A public and private partnership can help make this happen. We need to get into the schools early and work closely with the teachers, administrators and curriculum planners. We should be building curriculum that not only focuses on the hard sciences, but one that also focuses on the behavioral science. We should be teaching our people and our kids how to develop a curious mindset. One that questions and pursues knowledge. A mindset that isn’t scared of uncertainty, but can embrace it. One that sees the possibilities of the future. One that knows if we put our minds together we can achieve great things. A mindset that values intellect, sees potential in the face of failure and one that embraces empathy as a key leadership trait.
Our CEO’s have a right to be worried, but in that concern, should be an endless optimism that we can conquer this challenge and that we can rise together and embrace a new future and a new paradigm.
About the Author
Dr. Curtis L. Odom is Principal and Managing Partner of Prescient Training Strategists, LLC, a consulting firm focusing on integrated talent management. Author of Stuck in the Middle: A Generation X View of Talent Management, he has over 15 years of experience in talent development, performance consulting, training, and instructional design as a practitioner, researcher, author and speaker. For more information, please visit www.stuckinthemiddle.me.
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector