New Zealand’s talent shortage may be more down to employer bias than reality

New Zealand’s talent shortage may be less a ‘shortage’ and more a tendency to overlook the hidden potential of people who don’t fit the narrow bias that has dominated employers’ thinking for decades – a shift is necessary.

Kathryn Sandford, job coach and director of recruitment firm M2M (Move To More), said today that some employers’ obsession with finding the right ‘fit’ is a big reason for the so-called shortage of talent in New Zealand.

“In a so-called talent shortage, the best strategy is to become more aware of how quality talent can be hidden away due to personal biases and ‘business as usual’ inertia.

New Zealand is currently struggling with a talent and labor shortage as it emerges from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic. The NZIER Quarterly Business Opinion Survey showed that lack of labor is the biggest constraint for businesses.

Sandford said global staffing shortages are leaving New Zealand companies with no choice but to rethink the way they source talent.

“Looking for the right ‘fit’ risks becoming prey to people’s biases, as the right person often requires the minimum change from the company itself. A candidate becomes attractive simply because they can get down to business as usual and get to work.

“While that’s generally fine in normal times, it unnecessarily limits the pool of good candidates in a tight job market. It can be easy to overlook great talent altogether,” Sandford said.

A good example, Sandford said, is the all-too-common case of internal staff being overlooked when the opportunity arises for them to develop their skills and shine in their desired role. Instead, a talent search starts hiring someone from outside the company.

“When they see this happening, talented internal employees can quickly become disgruntled and may consider it best to quit and go where they are appreciated.

“It’s easy to look for easy wins by bringing in outside talent. But if internal talent already fits the culture, why not devote the resources to developing them in the role?” she says.

The problem with limiting a talent search to people with the right cultural “fit” is that it tends to ignore those with real skills, even if it means re-engineering company processes to better accommodate them. .

“Human bias is natural. But it’s important to look for someone who could ‘add’ to your company culture by bringing diversity of thought to the role. In professional sports, good team members are chosen not based on what the coach likes, but on who is best for the job Athletes on the same team sometimes come to blows because they are not “fit”, but they are the best at The coach’s job is to get the team to work together, not to pick people based on how well they get along.

Adopting a “cultural addition” rather than a “cultural fit” mindset is about moving from the framework of scarcity to thinking of abundance.

“The world of work is changing. It’s different than it was before Covid. People now have different priorities in how they want to work and who they want to work with,” Sandford said.

Sandford offered some key points to consider when scouting for talent in a tight job market.

1. Look inside yourself

Biases are hard to spot at the best of times, let alone when they’re deep in the mind. But overcoming bias can be a competitive advantage, especially if it helps attract and retain skilled talent.

“It is important to learn how to select people based on the right values ​​and what they can bring to the company. The criteria must be that they bring respect, sincerity and adaptability. A growing company needs diversity of thought, innovation and creativity,” said Sandford. said.

2. Behavioral structure

Changing biases and searching for hidden talents depends on genuinely changing behaviors and business processes; otherwise it’s all window dressing, Sandford said.

“Put some structure around behaviors. Focus on learning to listen. Don’t interrupt. And in every engagement, always provide a solution. really think differently.”

3. Take leadership seriously

Some people are born with leadership tendencies, but no one is born with leadership abilities. These must be learned and practiced. By improving your leadership skills, you can better defend yourself against prejudice.

“Don’t be afraid to recognize a weakness in your approach; be sure to find a way to reinforce that weakness. Spend time learning self-management to understand your patterns and better choose how you respond rather than react. Understand the roles you play and your expected performance as a leader,” Sandford said.

For more information visit: https://m2m.co.nz/

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