Until recently, companies were more focused on attracting capital to drive business. The phrase “war for talent” may have been coined 25 years ago, but it didn’t fully resonate in the past since capital was the driving force for business. Today the landscape looks very different as the world shifts to an economy based on knowledge and the open exchange of information. Global talent shortages are on the rise and companies that are digitizing are growing even faster. The most recent ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey found that more than half of companies (54%) around the world cannot find the skills they are looking for, almost double what it was a decade ago.[i] So the trend now is that companies realize that people truly are the scarce resource.
In that context, having a reputation of a company that develops and cares about people is incredibly important. This is where Equinix has such a unique value proposition that goes beyond the growth of the company or even the culture and values we outline in The Magic of Equinix. As a talent management professional, I’ve come across a number of companies where “focus on people” was more of an aspirational statement. At Equinix, the leadership team is sincerely invested in being authentic role models of the Equinix “magic” and bringing out the best in people, and that is mirrored throughout the company. This is a powerful starting point for leadership excellence and talent development.
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Defining goals is the first step
We have a culture of sharing common experiences and building connections to help people learn and grow. We are very proud of our diversity and inclusion programs such as the Equinix Women Leaders Network (EWLN) and “transition to tech” efforts for veterans.
Mentoring is a big part of both of those programs as we empower women and veterans to gain new skills and transition successfully into new roles. In my experience, two factors are key to the success of mentoring efforts – clearly defined objectives and a culture of caring and serving others. At Equinix we have both. Our approach is to build a platform of support that can provide a more enriching experience for both mentors and mentees. For example, a program like EWLN is built around an employee community invested in the goal of developing women as leaders, and it provides access to internal and external thought leadership speakers, content and courses to develop particular leadership skills. As a result, mentors and mentees both have the opportunity to be immersed in an experience along with others who are going through the same journey.
I sometimes use a manufacturing analogy to talk about talent development. You start with a blueprint, then you look at your raw materials and then you build the product. But the last step is figuring out what your distribution channel is going to be.Maria Wayne
Looking ahead – developing Equinix leaders of the future
As we look ahead, we are building a more systematic and consistent approach to developing our talent. We’re looking at it through the lens of strategic workforce planning which means tying development to where the company is going (strategic goals) and providing the tools to help us get there. In essence, working to align “right place” with “right time.” It also means ensuring that we have a standard mentoring and talent development experience across different functions and regions. A standard approach enables people to take what they learn from one role and apply it to another, progressively building their skills. And, while there will always be some cultural differences by region, we want to make sure that we have an overarching global Equinix standard of excellence and what that looks like.
The first step is clearly defining the success profile of a leader at Equinix. Values is one part of it, but it includes other characteristics, like having a global mindset and being self-aware. A leader also needs to have strategic capabilities such as executing within budget, hitting the forecast and developing people. A validated and clearly communicated success profile is the foundation for developing systematic approaches to other areas of talent development including learning, mentor/mentee pairings and intentional mapping of skills and preferences to needs across the company. And artificial intelligence (AI)/advanced analytics will help us be even smarter about the process by giving us better insights on what skills are needed, as well as a better understanding of what skills and preferences our people have. For example, if we have a need in Asia, we would know that we have 300 people in the U.S. who have that particular skill set who are interested in moving to Asia to work. Eventually, we are looking to enable skills-based career development, where AI would create algorithms based on the skills of people, for example, who were hired or promoted into a certain set of leadership roles.
Ultimately, it’s a journey that starts with a clearly articulated and shared vision, across the company, of what success looks like for employee development. And, from there, providing employees with the tools and support structure to build their skills while always learning from and refining the process for the best possible outcome.
In an increasingly technology-enabled world, people are in demand.Manpower Group