Accelerated change?

The response is accelerated learning

Accelerated change? The response is accelerated learning

Posted by John Hagel III and Andrew Reeves on April 20, 2015.

Almost all of us remember at least one disruptive child in our elementary school class that stormed out of the room because he or she didn’t want to learn. But, do you ever remember seeing someone storm out of the room because they weren’t learning fast enough? Today’s businesses are under pressure. The Big Shift, fueled by ongoing advances in core digital technologies (computing, storage, and bandwidth) and the general trend toward public policy liberalization, consistently increases the power of individuals and intensifies performance pressures for companies.1 In this constantly changing business landscape, learning becomes an imperative to keep up and move forward.

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Rethinking talent management

Part II: Reengaging contingent talent

Rethinking talent management part II: Reengaging contingent talent

Posted by Michael Gretczko on April 9, 2015.

In Rethinking Talent Management Part 1: The Rise of Contingent Talent, we proposed that the HR profession should rethink its definition of talent management to include the increasingly important contingent workforce as part of its total talent management strategy. In today’s post, we look at how HR can reengage with the contingent workforce after decades of being rather hands-off.

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If you build it, will they come? Overcoming the talent crisis in manufacturing

If you build it, will they come? Overcoming the talent crisis in manufacturing

Posted by Ben Dollar on March 25, 2015

Blog posts here on HR Times regularly discuss ways organizations can rethink and revamp their talent programs to better support business strategies and overcome workforce challenges. Today I’d like to broaden the discussion and look at talent strategies as a way to revitalize and protect the future of an entire industry — manufacturing.

First, let’s consider the importance of manufacturing to the US economy. Every job in manufacturing creates another 2.5 jobs in local goods and services1 and every dollar spent in manufacturing adds $1.37 to the American economy.2 Also consider that manufacturing employs 9 percent of the workforce, supporting more than 12 million workers directly and 17.4 million jobs in total. Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the 9th largest economy in the world.3

These are impressive numbers. Manufacturing growth since the 2008 recession is also positive, as GDP attributed to manufacturing increased from 11.9 percent 2009 to 12.4 percent in 2013,4 and data projections suggest 400,000 jobs will be added between 2015 and 2020.5

At the same time, however, manufacturing faces significant challenges, all related to talent, including:

  • Sobering retirement demographics. Led by aging Baby Boomers, 2.7 million workers are expected to retire between 2015 and 2025. At the same time, over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be available in the United States.6 This is problematic because of the…
  • Lack of replacements. Manufacturing executives indicate that finding talent with required skills is challenging. Eighty-four percent of manufacturing executives polled in the Skills Gap study by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute agree there’s a talent shortage in US manufacturing, and they estimate that six out of 10 open skilled production position are unfilled due to the shortage. More troubling, the skills gap is expected to grow substantially over the next decade—2 million of those likely 3.5 million available jobs are expected to go unfilled. The shortage is acute in both skilled production workers and scientists, engineers, and researchers. High schools, trade schools, and colleges are not producing skilled workers fast enough to fill the gap. And the gap is significant: 70 percent of surveyed executives report their current workers do not have adequate technology and computer skills.7
  • Negative perception. Perceptual issues compound the supply problem. An outdated image of the industry as “dirty, dumb, dangerous, and disappearing”8 persists, rather than the more accurate picture of manufacturing as a modern economic engine that drives more innovation (three-quarters) than any other private-sector industry.9 Only 22 percent of Millennials surveyed globally view manufacturing as a desirable sector for employment.10
  • “Brain drain.” The combination of people retiring or leaving manufacturing to pursue careers in other industries, jobs displaced from offshoring, and weak knowledge management practices has resulted in a significant loss of manufacturing knowledge that is not easily recovered.

Manufacturing is at an inflection point: Either close the skills gap to support growth and keep and create jobs in the United States or risk increasing reliance on offshore resources. This is no small challenge, and depends on workforce strategies built around elements well known to readers of the HR Times:

  • Managing the talent pipeline like a supply chain through analytics-driven approaches to workforce planning to identify needs and take action far in advance. Too many companies are forced to react late in the game and scramble to fill holes.
  • Fostering long-term career development and growth through innovative learning practices. experiential development, and creating cultures in which learning and knowledge sharing are highly rewarded.
  • Recruiting from new sources and with a fresh perspective on the skills needed and the candidates who might ultimately be successful on the job.
  • Taking advantage of the Open Talent Economy. to tap into multiple sources of talent. The use of contractors or other “off balance sheet” workers helps to create flexible cost structures and more agility in the face of market changes.
  • Considering recruiting and employment from a marketing perspective, paying attention to the employment brand as closely as the corporate brand. Social media has created more transparency into culture, and manufacturers should take advantage of the ability to reshape their employment brands.
  • Redesigning and reskilling the HR function to address what is becoming one of the most significant challenges manufacturing companies have faced in decades.

I’ve only touched on the situation here, but our recent article in Deloitte Review, Help wanted: American manufacturing competitiveness and the looming skills gap., examines these issues and potential solutions in depth.

Ben Dollar Ben Dollar is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice.

1Milken Institute and Economic Planning Institute.
2The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
3National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “Facts about Manufacturing.”
4 Bureau of Economic Analysis, “Value added by industry as a percentage of gross domestic product,” April 25, 2014.
5Deloitte analysis based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
6Deloitte analysis based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Gallup survey.
7Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute’s 2014 Skills Gap Study.
8John Paul Williams, “How manufacturing can solve its own talent shortage crisis,” Industry Week, August 21, 2014.
9National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “Facts about Manufacturing.”
10The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2015.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Achieving sales performance improvement may lie beyond traditional sales compensation

Achieving sales performance improvement may lie beyond traditional sales compensation

Posted on March 16, 2015

Every year, Deloitte Consulting LLP surveys sales leaders about the state of their sales forces and sales compensation practices: Are they effective? Are they meeting targets? Are sales leaders satisfied with them? For the past three years, from 2012 to 2014, both achievement of targets and satisfaction with sales productivity have remained flat – hovering at or below 50 percent in both areas. This despite a majority of responding leaders (65 percent) who believe the economy has already recovered or would by the end of 2014.1 Are sales compensation practices to blame for the mismatch between a growing economy and the failure of sales forces to take advantage of the opportunity?

Incentive pay has historically been one of the primary motivational tools in a sales leaders’ tool box to drive behavior and results. But results of the 2014 survey may offer insights into other factors organizations should examine to improve sales performance. For example, the learning and development provided to sales representatives, how quotas are set and communicated, how sales representatives are selected and onboarded — these are just some of the elements that make up a broader sales performance ecosystem, along with sales compensation.

Read more about the 2014 survey results, the trends revealed over time, and the factors that influence sales performance in our newest survey report: Great sales expectations: The growing gap between sales force expectations and the influence traditional sales compensation has on performance.


Leading in the new world of work: Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends

Leading in the new world of work: Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends

Posted by Josh Bersin on March 5, 2015

This week we officially launched one of the largest-ever longitudinal studies of talent trends and readiness around the world: Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2015. More than 3,300 companies from 106 countries participated, and the results are staggering. In this year’s report, we explore 10 major trends that emerged from our research, which reflect four major themes: leading, engaging, reinventing, and reimagining.

The bottom line is pretty simple: We are all living in a “New World of Work” — one that is always-on 24×7, operates at lightning speed, and in which the team takes precedence over the organization. When we enjoy our team and we operate well as a team, we thrive. When the leaders are weak or the team is not aligned, we feel overwhelmed and overworked.

Part of this new world is a flood of information, technology, and data. HR teams have the opportunity to help us simplify our lives, simplify their own programs, use data to make decisions, and innovate. Traditional practices like performance management are being left in the dust as we embrace agile, feedback-rich systems that let us talk to each other, set and reset goals, and collaborate more easily.

Part of this new world is the “continuous learning organization”— one where each of us can learn what we need to know, when we need it. This means companies should redesign the learning experience as they simplify HR.

A large team of us spent many months interviewing, surveying, and meeting with companies around the world to do this research. We were surprised at how hard HR teams are working to keep up — and how many of them feel behind. This is an exciting time for business and HR leaders, as the work equation has changed. We have to focus on engagement, empowerment, and environment — to make jobs enjoyable, achievable, and rewarding.

Here are the 10 big trends we identified this year, with some data on the priority of each. Please review our online data dashboard to look at specific data and detailed analysis in your industry or geography.

Fig 1: The Ten Global Trends Shaping Corporate Talent in 2015

Each of these trends is discussed in detail in the report, along with company capabilities, trends, leading practices, and examples of world-class solutions.

Top Findings:

1. Culture, engagement, and retention is now the No. 1 issue around the world. Eighty-seven percent of companies surveyed rate this a high-priority problem and 50 percent rate it urgent. Company readiness to deal with this issue has dropped by 43 percent year over year, and today approximately half the companies we surveyed believe they are unable to drive the desired culture in their organizations.

I’ve written extensively on this topic, and the big message is that engagement is now central to everything we do as managers and leaders. If we can’t build a company that attracts and inspires people, we will likely lose them to our competition. (Read The Simply Irresistible Organization for more on this topic.)

The research also points out the biggest contributors to engagement, and they vary by industry. As I discuss in the Simply Irresistible model, leadership, management practices, work flexibility, and learning opportunities are highly correlated with engagement and retention, and in retail, hospitality, and services, diversity is as well. Interestingly, the skills of HR are highly correlated with strong employee engagement — so all of these various trends are connected.

2. Gaps in the leadership pipeline remain an urgent issue, and there has been almost no progress from prior years. 87 percent of surveyed companies rate this important and 51 percent rate it urgent. Despite the fact that leadership development spending increased by 14 percent last year, only one-third of companies have programs focused on Millennials, and overall capability dropped by about 18 percent.

There are essentially “haves” and “have nots” in leadership — our assessment is that companies that continuously invest in modern (reengineered) leadership programs far outperform their peers. Companies at maturity Level 4 are spending three to four times as much as Level 1 maturity companies, and the gap remains large.

3. Corporate training and learning is now “in the spotlight.” The importance of learning has jumped from the No. 8 to the No. 3 issue, and capabilities to meet desired needs plummeted by more than 200 percent.

The training industry is in the middle of a renaissance, and companies should reengineer their employee learning experience to give people the equivalent of the on-demand, highly engaging materials (and access to experts) they can get on the public Internet. Building a culture of learning, creating a modern digital learning experience, and bringing experts to help teach is now critical to business success.

4. Performance management is now being reengineered at an accelerated rate. More than half the companies we surveyed are reengineering or have recently reengineered their performance practices. This is a radical trend: Performance management, goal setting, and ratings, or lack thereof, are at the center of the way we manage people. They define how we pay people, promote them, develop them, and move them.

After years of trying to build top-down, hierarchical, forced rankings to evaluate people, the world is shifting toward a feedback-centric, agile, strengths-based approach. The data prove that companies that modernize their performance management process see 20–30 percent higher engagement and dramatic improvements in retention. And performance goes up, too.

5. The skills of HR professionals are lagging behind at an accelerating rate. The data show that HR skills are the fourth highest issue (80 percent rate this important and 39 percent rate it urgent), and business leaders rate HR 20 percent lower than they rate themselves.

HR as a function rated itself a 1.65 on a 5.0 scale (a C- at best) and business leaders rated HR a 1.35 (a D+) — almost 20 percent lower. This is not for a lack of dedication and effort; it is likely a problem of skills and often the wrong people in these jobs. Many of today’s HR functions are not functioning well, and the problem may be the people, not the technology. Only 11 percent of companies have robust development programs for HR, and self-ratings for HR have barely budged in three years.

Our research also shows that nearly one-third of new CHROs are coming from the business, so there is now immense pressure to build what we call “Bold HR” — a function that can reinvent itself, start with a fresh sheet of paper, adopt technology as a tool (not a solution in itself), and boldly innovate and consult with business leaders.

6. People analytics seem to be stuck in neutral. Despite the fact that HR professionals all over the world are excited about Big Data and analytics (read The Geeks are Coming to HR for more on this topic), our research shows little to no progress in maturity since last year.

Vendors are offering new analytics tools like candy, but HR departments are generally still not able to use them because underlying infrastructure and data quality remain issues. The problem is not only replacing the technology (only 11 percent of our respondents have implemented full cloud technology!) but also making the multi-year investment to create a serious “people analytics” function.

7. Simplification is becoming the new mantra. Finally, as we looked at the 2014 trends, we realized that what was The Overwhelmed Employee in 2014 is now “The Need to Simplify Work” in 2015. Our research shows that more than half the companies we surveyed believe their work environment is “highly complex” and nearly half still suffer from the overwhelming complexity of the environment.

Complexity creates cost, reduces engagement, and hurts productivity. One of our mandates for HR in 2015 is to “think simple” and practice design thinking, as we describe in detail throughout the report.

2015: Time to Be Bold

Despite all of these challenges, the research shows tremendous innovation and progress in all 10 trends. We don’t mean to sound overly negative here — we see amazing new solutions in companies of all sizes, and the report details some inspiring examples of new strategies to deal with these problems.

The big issue is one of focus: In 2015, as the economy grows and Millennials take over companies, HR has to “be bold” and get serious about recreating its solutions, consulting with a closer relationship to the business, and leveraging data and technology for business solutions— not just “creating great service.”

I look forward to your feedback on this research. Please visit our online data visualization dashboard to view data in your industry and geography.

predictions for 2015

Josh Bersin Josh Bersin Josh Bersin is the founder and a principal of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, a leading research and advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, talent, learning, and the intersection between work and life. Josh is a published author on Forbes, is a LinkedIn Influencer, has appeared on Bloomberg, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal, and speaks at industry conferences and to corporate HR departments around the world. You can contact Josh on twitter at @josh_bersin and follow him at Linkedin. Josh’s personal blog is at

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Recruiting the IT worker of the future

Recruiting the IT worker of the future

Posted by John Stefanchik, Judy Pennington and Catherine Bannister on February 25, 2015

Advances in enterprise technologies are giving rise to improved opportunities, new business models, and innovation.

They are also creating IT staffing headaches.

As we examine in the 2015 edition of Deloitte Consulting LLP’s annual Tech Trends report, scarcity of technical talent is becoming a significant concern across many industries, with some organizations facing talent gaps along multiple fronts. This challenge is expected to grow: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that one million programming jobs in the United States will go unfilled by 2020.1

To secure the talent necessary to compete in an era of technology-driven opportunity, companies will need to recruit and, in many cases, cultivate a new type of employee—the IT worker of the future—who has habits, incentives, and skills that are inherently different from those in play today.

Given that competition in the talent marketplace for such workers is only increasing, HR leaders should consider taking the following innovative approaches to staffing:

Recruit differently. Increasingly, innovative companies are deploying unorthodox approaches to recruit fresh talent. For example, externships—training programs typically offered by schools and private businesses to provide practical experience in a given field—can put promising candidates to work quickly. They can also be used to vet the transfer of individuals within and across your organization—a “try before you decide” method that can enable both parties to understand aptitude, fit, and interest.

Similarly, some companies are hosting internal and external “hackathons,” day- or weekend-long competitions in which participants rapidly explore, prototype, and demo ideas. Hiring decisions can be based on demonstrated results instead of on resume depth and the ability to navigate a round of interviews.

Finally, consider training employees with no technical background—38 percent of recruiters are actively doing so to fill IT positions.2 Graphic designers, artists, cultural anthropologists, behavioral psychologists, and other backgrounds are building blocks for user experience, mobile, data science, and other desperately needed skills.

Light your talent beacon. An estimated 70 percent of Millennials learn about job opportunities from friends.3 Enlist your own people to help play a critical role in attracting the IT workers of the future by clearly communicating your vision for the IT organization, and investing in incentives to drive retention and referrals.

Look outside the organization. Though employee referrals can help attract top talent, they are only one piece of the staffing puzzle: Organizations should also consider participating in external talent ecosystems. Start by defining a crowdsourcing strategy that guides the use of crowd platforms to solve your organization’s staffing problems, and give employees permission to participate in crowd contests, on the job or off the clock. Additionally, identify incubators and start-up collaboration spaces that are looking for corporate sponsors. These situations often provide opportunities to co-locate workers with inventors and entrepreneurs exploring new ground. Finally, seek out briefings and ideation sessions with your vendor and partner community to harness software, hardware, systems integrator, and business partner thinking and research.

To meet IT staffing challenges going forward, HR may need to broadly shift its focus from people and policy administration to talent attraction and development. This will not be easy, but it will likely be worth the effort. By spending your energy attracting, challenging, and rewarding the right kind of talent instead of succumbing to legacy organizational constructs that are no longer relevant, you can help unleash the IT worker of the future in your business.

To learn more about the steps HR can take to recruit and cultivate top IT talent, check out Deloitte Consulting LLP’s 2015 Tech Trends Report.

John Stefanchik John Stefanchik is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP. As a technologist, he assists clients in tackling complex custom development and integration challenges.
Judy Pennington Judy Pennington is a director in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice with over 25 years of experience working at the intersection of people and technology.
Catherine Bannister Catherine Bannister is a director in Deloitte Consulting LLP with 20 years of experience delivering technology solutions to public sector clients. She is the chief talent officer for the Technology service area, with leadership responsibilities for 18,000 consultants in the United States, India, and Mexico.

1 Christopher Mims, “Computer program¬ming is a trade; let’s act like it,” The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2014,, accessed November 10, 2014.2 Lindsay Rothfield, “How your company can attract top tech talent,” Mashable, June 28, 2014,, ac¬cessed November 10, 2014.3 Rothfield, “How your company can attract top tech talent.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Bringing connected learning into the corporate environment

Bringing connected learning into the corporate environment

Posted by Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee on February 20, 2015

Companies that can consistently attract, develop, and keep high performers will likely be those that lead us forward. One of the most effective ways companies can do this will be to offer prospective employees not just a salary, but a unique development opportunity. We foresee that managing and capitalizing on talent will be an integrated, firm-wide endeavor balancing business goals and individual personal development objectives. Technology’s role in this near-future environment will be important, better enabling senior management to accelerate the rate at which organizational capabilities are both developed and permanently instilled in an organization – transforming corporate learning as we now know it. As educational technology (ed-tech) providers continue to develop next-generation solutions, organizations should match their pace and become more engaged partners in the evolution of their corporate learning solutions and their employees’ careers.

Organizations across the U.S. spent $1,169 per learner, on average, on learning and development (L&D) initiatives in 2013.1 This figure varies by company size and industry. Technology companies, for example, spent $1,847 per learner, on average—one of the highest of any industry sector.2 Tech firms (like Motorola Solutions, Adobe, IBM, and Xerox) have made large investments for training their teams to evolve from product sellers to solution and industry experts.3 Not surprisingly, technology firms are also among the leaders designing programs specifically for use on mobile devices, with 19 percent of learning assets mobile-enabled.4 As a case in point, Xerox Learning is working to tailor and orchestrate training content targeted at the growing mobile workforce (1.3 billion worldwide by 20135). Xerox Learning works with m-learning devices (handheld communications tools such as mobile and smart phones, PDAs, MP3/MP4 players, and gaming devices) to assess value potential of mobile learning programs through a five-step process that encompasses assessment and planning, technology implementation, content delivery, support, and measurement.6

Traditionally when developing corporate learning programs, HR professionals are often tasked with developing a “corporate learning strategy” and then developing (or contracting) the appropriate infrastructure build-out, designing (or purchasing) the requisite content, and matching employees to content after the fact. With a move to “connected learning,” the employee and their interests lie at the center of the strategy, requiring a flexible model that changes with employees and the times. As Mizuko Ito (Professor in Residence at UC Irvine) describes, connected learning is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward expanding educational, economic, or political opportunity; it is realized when a person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to career success. In connected corporate learning, instructors, mentors, managers, on-the-job opportunities, and HR professionals support the learner upon whom the model is based, not vice versa.7

Investing in connected corporate learning requires senior management and leadership to answer different questions than have been traditionally posed. These questions focus on striking an effective balance between organizational and individual’s goals, and how that dictates how connected an organization’s learning offering should be. The spectrum of connections ranges from networking with various ecosystem players (learner, instructors, etc.) to integrating the learning journey from K–12 through higher education and corporate learning to investing in technology solutions that aggregate the currently disparate collection of data and functionality that composes the education ecosystem.

For example, connected corporate learning need not stop at existing employees but can and should extend to potential — and perhaps former — employees. In our vision of 2021, we picture transformed learning roles, including an education coordinator (EC) or a computerized virtual assistant that helps groom prospective candidates by providing relevant job-readiness skills. By sharing pre-approved student information with an EC, students and educators can partner with organizations to efficiently close any skills gaps. The EC can serve as a recruitment instrument, providing custom learning plans encompassing unique or proprietary content and virtual reality games, experiential learning exercises, and interactive opportunities with professionals within a student’s approved network.

An organization’s future learning solution will likely serve as more than a skill refresher and become a source of enduring competitive advantage. Connected corporate learning is an opportunity for organizations to work with ed-tech providers to build flexible corporate learning programs that allow for all three types of connectors (across ecosystem, across the lifetime learning journey, and across technological functionality).

To learn more about connected learning, register here for our Feb 25 webcast discussion and read our recent publication on Digital Education 2.0: From content to connections.

Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee is a senior manager in Deloitte Services LP and heads cross-sector Technology, Media, and Telecommunications research. Acknowledgements: Richard Merchant, Karthik Ramachandran

1 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
2 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
3 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
4 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
5 Stacy K. Crook, Justin Jaffe, Raymond Boggs, Stephen D. Drake Rise of Mobility, IDC, Dec 2011
6 Xerox Learning Services, Mobile learning: the time is now, 2015
7 Banerjee, PM, Belson, G. Digital Ed 2.0, Deloitte Review, January 2015

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

How do you find passion?

How do you find passion?

Posted by Tamara Samoylova and Maggie Wooll on February 09, 2015

At the Center for the Edge, we’ve been exploring the idea of worker passion for several years. In our papers, we’ve gone deeper into the attributes that define passion and how companies can cultivate that productive passion in their workforce. Yet, the one question we hear repeatedly is: “How do I find my passion?”

The question isn’t surprising given that today’s culture seems to be more aware of the need to be passionate about what you do. Blame it on the blurring of our personal and professional lives. As the world becomes more connected, so do our work, interests, and hobbies. We’re also experiencing mounting performance pressure that makes it increasingly difficult to just go to work to receive a paycheck. Add to that the continuous learning required to stay relevant, and time outside of the office is often needed to stay relevant and informed through building skills, participating in events, and cultivating a network. A “work to live” attitude isn’t enough when so many jobs demand this level of commitment, so it’s no wonder that individuals are looking for passion in their work now rather than merely tolerating a job now in hopes of finding something they love later.

What does being passionate mean? We define it with three attributes: Commitment to Domain—a desire to work in, and make a significant impact on, an area, industry, or function over an extended period of time; Questing Disposition—an orientation toward seeking out additional challenges and seeing these challenges as opportunities to learn and develop new skills; Connecting Disposition—an orientation toward developing deep, trust-based relationships with others with the intent to learn together and collaborate.

Individuals who demonstrate these attributes have what we call the Passion of the Explorer. Their orientation toward learning and performance improvement makes them more resilient and more open to the opportunities inherent in uncertainty.

If passion is so important, how can you find yours? We’ve tended to focus on what companies can do to cultivate passion in the workforce, but as individuals we can, and should, try to cultivate these attributes for ourselves.

To some extent, the questing and connecting dispositions tend to be innate—at least until educational or organizational structures discourage them. Think about a toddler playing with a new puzzle: not yet knowing the stigma of failure, he is not afraid to try different combinations until he finds one that works. In environments where failure is punished, experimentation and questing soon disappear. However individuals can start by adjusting their own attitudes about failure as part of the learning process rather than as negative experiences to be avoided. Similarly, individuals can strengthen their connecting disposition by building networks as a way to learn and overcome challenges rather than as a way to gain status. This implies a willingness to be open and vulnerable rather than focusing on power or influence.

While cultivating our questing and connecting dispositions can be challenging in today’s work environments, self-discipline in adjusting our attitudes can go a long way. For many of us, the bigger challenge is finding commitment to domain. How can I know what I want to dedicate myself to? What if I change my mind? Why does commitment to domain even matter?

Commitment to domain helps provide focus and endurance. Questers and connecters without commitment to domain are still valuable to companies, but they may dabble in too many things to develop expertise or jump ship for the next “shiny object” when the inevitable obstacles arise. Those who are deeply committed to making an impact can channel their questing and connecting activities toward longer-term goals that yield significant results.

For our report Passion at Work: Cultivating passion as the cornerstone of talent development we interviewed over a dozen high-performing individuals and identified two common paths to how they discovered their commitment to domain: early access to mentors or active participation in, and openness to, a diversity of knowledge flows.

Mentors as catalysts for finding your domain
Christopher Strieter, cofounder of Senses Wines, a small-batch producer of West Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and sales manager at Uproot Wines, a VC-backed direct-sales wine company focused on customer experience, still harbored dreams of becoming an astronaut when he began studying math, economics, and physics at Harvey Mudd College. Over time, his interests shifted toward a more traditional career in investment banking and a masters in finance program. But Christopher soon noticed that when his older friends talked about work, they talked about it as something they “had to” do versus something they wanted to do. Christopher wanted something more.

Through a serendipitous relationship, he was introduced to a wine maker who gave him an internship in financial planning for the business. He realized that his interests in science and finance could be combined in the wine business. With the wine maker acting as a mentor, Christopher was exposed to multiple facets of the business and also learned the skills and work habits needed to succeed in the industry. He fell in love with it. So, rather than following a well-trod route into banking, Christopher took a series of jobs in the wine industry—from wine making to business development—to immerse himself in the industry. “I don’t work a day in my life,” Christopher said. “I’m always learning.”

In part because of her experience growing up in Tanzania, Fatema Waliji already knew that she wanted to help developing countries when she arrived at Princeton to study politics. Yet an unexpected encounter with an alumnus in her junior year helped bring focus to her plans and see how she could develop real skills and further her learning to achieve a greater long-term impact. The alumnus worked at TripAdvisor and helped Fatema get an internship at the company where she discovered the potential for technology to impact the developing world. When she returned to school for her senior year, she concentrated her studies around technology and entrepreneurship and joined TripAdvisor full time upon graduation. In addition to her full time job, she spends her time volunteering and continuing to develop skills that will support her career goals as a social entrepreneur.

Christopher and Fatema were lucky; serendipitous connections with mentors early in their adulthood helped guide them into a domain. That does not happen to everyone. For the rest of us, what is the path toward finding a domain if the mentor never materializes?

Exposure to multiple communities as a way to find a domain
From our interviews, we were interested to discover that several people had found passion in areas they had not originally considered and in several cases, had specifically not found passion in the cause or ideal they had been committed to initially. Instead, these individuals discovered their domain over time through exposure to a variety of opportunities, activities, and communities. For example, Diana Simmons, senior director of product commercialization and process and systems improvement at Clif Bar & Company, for years thought that her ultimate job would be to run a corporate responsibility business unit. However, along the way her career led her into businesses operations including supply chain and marketing. When she at last joined the corporate responsibility group, she realized that she actually preferred making products and owning the product line responsibility. The company’s overall values satisfied her interest in sustainability, but her commitment and need for challenges was better expressed in the product commercialization unit of the company.

Similarly, Geoffrey West was looking for a collaborative academic environment and imagined he would find it in a major university. However, once he entered the academic world, he realized that his vision was not entirely aligned with the reality, and where he expected to find his passion he instead was disappointed. A fundamental physicist by training, today he explores biology and complex systems, a domain he arrived at over the course of building a collaborative, intellectual community at a national lab and later running the Santa Fe Institute.

Both Diana and Geoffrey accepted new opportunities that didn’t seem to fit the definition of their chosen domain and eventually found their focus. However, many individuals do nothing, waiting for the domain to discover them. Diana and Geoffrey did not wait. They pursued opportunities that looked interesting and exposed themselves to many new activities, groups, and communities. And when the reality of a job or domain conflicted with their long-held visions, they were open to re-evaluating their definitions.

The lesson we take from our interviews is that, for finding your domain and cultivating your passion, mentors are undoubtedly valuable, but even more so is active and conscious exploration. Participate in the flows of knowledge by attending as many events and engaging with multiple communities around the area you think you may find interesting. This may lead to serendipitous encounters or learning about new areas. What is certain is that you cannot find your domain by waiting for the perfect opportunities or assuming passion will come like a bolt of inspirational lightning. Commit to doing something. If reading about digital health or the maker movement piqued your interest, reach out to the author or look for the meet-up events in your area on the topic. Find others who may be interested in this area and start learning together. New opportunities will emerge as a result. Passion can and does come at any age, but it requires action and an openness to find it.

Tamara Samoylova For Deloitte LLP’s Center for the Edge, Tamara Samoylova leads research on work environment redesign, worker passion, and how technology changes the way we work and live.
Maggie Wooll Maggie Wooll is the content and engagement lead for Deloitte LLP’s Center for Edge, where she draws on her experience advising large organizations on strategy & operations to engage executives and practitioners in the Center’s work.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Making on-the-job learning part of your talent strategy


Posted by Amy A. Titus and Josh Haims on February 3, 2015.

As work and workplaces continue to evolve, so do many employees’ expectations about what they want from their jobs. A previous model of lifetime employment with one company and aspirations of “climbing the ladder” has given way to career paths that are more fluid and lattice-like. As part of this transition, formal classroom learning often gives way to experiential, on-the-job (OTJ) learning. OTJ learning can not only be efficient and cost-effective in that it takes advantage of learning moments that arise naturally, but also strategic in that it can promote talent attraction and retention by addressing employee desires to keep developing professionally.

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Recruiting: Renaissance or retreat?

Recruiting: Renaissance or retreat?
Posted by Art Mazor and Gary Johnsen on January 27, 2015

Talk to an executive or read the business journals and you’ll likely find that one of the most taxing and challenging issues facing organizations today is the attraction and acquisition of skilled talent. Confirmed in Deloitte’s 2014 Business Confidence Report, C-level leaders named the shortage of skilled workers as one of their top obstacles to growth. This was validated again in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report, which identified recruiting as one of the respondents’ topmost urgent needs. A clear majority (72 percent) of the 2500 leaders from 90 countries who participated in the survey realized and reported that recruiting is an urgent and important challenge for their organizations. Unfortunately, HR may not be ready to address this urgent need. Forty-three percent of those surveyed business executives pointed out that their HR function was not ready to answer this critical 21st century challenge. Even more, recruiting is perceived as underperforming by an overwhelming 65 percent of those same surveyed leaders. As distressing as these trends are, they could be reversed: Companies could address what ails recruiting and a recruiting renaissance could occur.

To understand where HR should begin to focus and start a recruiting transformation, we need to look beyond the statistics and trends data and witness them come to life in a real story — an actual candidate’s experience with the recruiting system and process. John’s (not his real name) story gives deeper meaning to the statistics and personalizes the struggles of the recruiting function, along with providing lessons and insights for recruiting leaders about the priorities and potential quick wins for recruiting transformation.

After 18 years as a military officer, John decided to transition to the civilian workforce. While he secured employment, his re-entry into the private labor force was marred by a number of recruiting missteps, blunders, and process inefficiencies. The good news: the issues can be fixed. Here are a few of the lessons to be learned from John’s experiences.

  • Lesson Learned 1: Don’t let machines overtake the personal side of sourcing and recruiting. The benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) in handling online job postings, applications, assessments, and requisition management are clearly defined in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. But John’s experience included technology tools replacing people and many impersonal, form-driven responses that presented organizations as cold, aloof, and distant in an age of relationships and personalization. Think about how your organization can take advantage of technology without losing the human element inherent in the employee-employer relationship. Social media and industry network groups present opportunities to enhance the connection with candidates.
  • Lesson Learned 2: Don’t stigmatize the unemployed as unemployable. Many talented people count themselves as part of the fallout of the economic downturn. Though, as a new veteran, John’s situation was slightly different, he still experienced subtle but present bias to his unemployment status, with questions around his work ethic, networking abilities, and desire for employment. Even though he sent out numerous resumes each week, attended job fairs and networking events, and actively interviewed throughout the months of his career transition, he got indirect messages from employers that he was not quite the same as an active employee seeking a job change, because he was unemployed. Deloitte and The Rockefeller Foundation, in support of the White House National Economic Council, have put together these two handbooks for employers and job seekers as a helpful resource to understand and counteract these biases.
  • Lesson Learned 3: Follow through on commitments; tap into candidate relationship management. John recalls countless recruiters making commitments to call him back or managers saying they’d be making hiring decisions in a few days, with no follow-through. For John, hearing something, even “no,” was better than going into a black hole and hearing nothing. He often chased recruiters and managers, felt he invested time in their companies, and yet experienced delayed or no follow-up to his inquiries about the companies’ promise to be in touch with him. How is your organization handling candidate communications? Are you tapping into technology tools to help manage the process, while still serving the broader need for relationship-building?
  • Lesson Learned 4: Shorten the end-to-end cycle time. John experienced days turning into weeks and sometimes weeks turning into months. In our fast-paced society, everything is moving faster; this should include the recruiting cycle. Redesigning the processes, updating technology, incorporating newer techniques like video conferencing and recorded video responses as part of accelerating the initial screening interactions, and investing in recruiting resources can all shave time off the recruiting cycle and get needed talent on board sooner.>
  • Lesson Learned 5: Invest in recruiting. John encountered many overwhelmed and stressed recruiters. The recruiters shared their stories of managing large number of requisitions, heavy workloads, and little downtime for development and training. In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014, 57 percent of surveyed leaders stated their organizations are weak in addressing workloads and schedules. John heard two recruiters tell him they were managing upwards of 150 active professional-level requisitions at one time. If recruiting is one of an organization’s marketing channels into the marketplace, why under-invest in the recruiting resource team? This can make a bad first impression to potential future employees. Instead, how can you use the recruiting experience as a marketing tool to position your organization as an employer of choice?

John’s experience confirms what surveyed leaders tell us themselves: Recruiting isn’t working as it should. Old ways of recruiting are often ineffective, causing organizations who cling to them to lose out on valuable talent. This is an issue keeping many CEOs up at night, and keeping many organizations from securing the talent to drive their business plans. Based on the 65 percent of surveyed leaders who view recruiting as underperforming, HR leaders have received their mandate: It’s time to think strategically about revitalizing the recruiting function, both with short-term fixes and long-term transformation initiatives.

Art Mazor Art Mazor is a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice. He collaborates with complex, global clients across industries to transform Human Resource strategy, service delivery, and organizations with a business-driven focus.
GaryJohnsen Gary Johnsen is a specialist leader in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice. He has a passion for building the intersection between business and people strategy, helping organizations design and implement HR operating models, practices, structures and processes that drive meeting business strategy.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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