There seems to be this huge confusion on my part with Big Data. I am a firm believer that there is always room in your tool belt for new tools that can help you “fix” or “complete” the project that is presented to you. That being said, I am not buying this one-size-fits-all solution that Big Data is selling when it comes to people.
I understand there aren’t enough hours in the day to meticulously sift through every single resume, complaint, suggestion, etc. But when we use this data to narrow our search to a couple of bullet points, I believe we are missing the mark terribly when it comes to people.
All the data suggests the young folks coming into the workforce want development. But what does that mean? This is a constant topic of discussion when I speak to business owners and executives. “Development” to a Baby Boomer or Gen Xer executive is totally different than “development” to a Millennial.
Now, you Baby Boomers and Gen Xers out there that have already responded with the typical, “I don’t care what you want, this is my company,” or “I never had to do this” are missing the boat. Why do I believe this to be true? Because developing your talent has very little to do with what you’ve done in the past. Yes. You created a successful company. Yes. You made a lot of money. And yes. You have a shiny car and an important title. The fact of the matter is that none of this matters if you can’t get the folks under you to continue the momentum.
I come from a world of professional athletics where the unspoken mantra was, “What have you done for me lately?” I am well aware of the performance-based business. I’m also aware of the set precedent of, “We need to win. Now.” Winning, however, doesn’t just happen by osmosis. A winning culture needs to be intentionally developed into any and every program or organization. While this may make sense, this notion is a difficult concept to grasp when it’s not synonymous with the way you have been developed.
The bottom line is that the 21st-century workforce still comes down to individualized plans for development that are linked to a company’s goals. As much as I would love to have my children coincide with my journey, which included playing sports, succeeding individually and as a member of a team, and getting my college education paid for with an athletic scholarship, I can’t force that onto them. Their plan will be based on the principles that my wife and I set in our house. But their path will be theirs to choose and we will support them — not just blindly agree with them — in achieving their goals. I think every parent would agree with this strategy. Why should it be any different with your employees?
It amazes me that parents spend thousands of dollars on their children’s development. Whether it’s a hitting instructor, piano teacher, or a math tutor. Yet when it comes to the same folks holding those principles true with their employees, they are met with a check-the-box, cookie cutter program. Or, even worse, the statement, “Hey. Just figure it out. I had to!” This approach is totally hypocritical and is only going to hurt the progress and development of the folks in your company or organization.
In conclusion, what I am saying is simple. As much as we’d like to believe it to be true — there is no magic bullet. There is no quick fix. No skinny pill. And this will hold true until the end of time. Development requires attention to detail and an outside set of eyes that are not lobbying for the flavor-of-the-month, Big Data survey. The future success of any business, organization, or team is based on the development of the folks coming behind. And it’s not just for obvious reasons. It’s for innovation, accountability, and relevance.
The opposite of evolution is extinction. If you aren’t intentionally and purposefully evolving, extinction is inevitable.