TALENT
SHIFT

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The Talent Shift Mindset and Project-based Approach

The old “work for one business until you retire” mentality is no longer realistic, even feasible, for the modern workplace.

Since 2006 when I started my company, I’ve seen how agility and outside-the-box thinking has enabled some organizations to stay competitive and drive innovation in impressive ways, and has accelerated their business results and allowed them to move fast in a turbulent marketplace.

You may be thinking: this is too good to be true. Common concerns I hear include:

Will on-demand professionals be loyal to my company?

Does working “on-demand” change the relationship or value of the work?

Will someone with the right experience really be there to answer the call when I need them?

Studies and my own experience show that on-demand talent chooses this way to work because people want these key things: choice and control; flexibility; high-value work; autonomy and respect; and to make a difference. Also, people have more choices than ever before to move sideways, backwards, forwards, or even pause. Careers are more lattice than ladder, or even a jungle gym. This is a fairly recent development, especially for different segments of the workforce.

But increasingly, companies are learning to look at talent acquisition in a different way. First, their focus is highly project-oriented. They assemble the right team for a project’s needs using a customized mix of full-time employees, consultants, and/or independent experts in order to solve talent problems right here, right now. Whole companies across industries are creating teams of experts for short- and long-term projects in order to deliver high-impact results.

A study by Upwork and the Freelancers Union in 2014 also revealed interesting statistics that support the Talent Shift mentality: the majority (60%) of freelancers who left traditional employment now earn more than they did as FTEs. Almost one in four (23%) quit a job in order to freelance. Of those who earn more, 78% indicated they earned more freelancing within a year or less. Flexibility is the top reason people choose to freelance full-time.

Flexibility also is happening on the client side. As clients focus on their business through a project lens: they’re looking at their goals as projects. These could be long-term projects; they could be strategic projects; they could be tactical projects. It’s really about identifying the right talent resources for specific kinds of projects.

In my work with leading companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Alaska Airlines, T-Mobile, Hewlett-Packard, Farmers Insurance, and others, I’ve observed that most managers have the same aspirations: they want to do big things, to make an impact, to achieve their goals efficiently while remaining nimble and flexible. They share similar challenges on how to continuously evolve their teams and adapt to market changes in a fluid and effective way that’s on budget. Unfortunately, many are just as stuck as the time-traveling, fictional CEO I introduced you to in my earlier post—with a mindset and talent strategy from another era. The old “work for one business until you retire” mentality is no longer realistic, even feasible, for the modern workplace. That model is a thing of the past.

So how do companies adapt? That’s the subject of my next article: The SPEED Solution and how to deliver results at the speed of digital.

Lisa Hufford is founder and CEO of Seattle-based Simplicity Consulting, a consultancy of experts that partners with technology companies to strategically deliver Enterprise Marketing Services. For more than five years, Simplicity has been named to the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Lisa has been named an Inc. Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs, and has been named by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneurial Winning Woman. She is the author of Navigating the Talent Shift: How to Build On-Demand Teams That Drive Innovation, Control Costs, and Get Results.

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