Should you hire workers who are deep in knowledge and experience in one area, or who have a broad skill set? Yes. In this video, learn how and why it matters to you and your team.
- Now for roles that require very specific knowledges and skills, a hiring manager usually wants depth. But in a rapidly-changing world, you're also going to need breadth. In a world of unbundled work, you have to have both. A variety of roles in Silicon Valley companies tend to require workers who are deeply knowledgeable in one or more areas, but generalists in other areas. Tim Brown, the co-CEO of Silicon Valley from IDEO, calls these T-skills, or T-shaped people. Those who are both deep in the special knowledges of a particular field, and broad, with the curiosity and learning capacity of a generalist, such as an accountant who understands sales business processes.
Or an IT specialist who knows the broad range of customer relationship activities. This kind of depth and breadth allows workers to maintain their expertise in a specific area, while gaining a greater understanding of how their area of knowledge intersects with others. These intersections, such as deep knowledge of social media paired with the general understanding of, say, the developmental processes of young people, will increasingly provide new opportunity for workers. One exceptional example of T-skills in action is Google's policy of 20% time.
Most employees are encouraged to find a passion project they can spend up to a day a week on. Either an existing product or project, or a new initiative that fascinates them. This kind of approach allows workers to continually find something outside their day job, a field in which we'll assume they're deep, to which they can pursue a new interest, possibly outside their current field, or broad. Now this kind of practice not only brings fresh ideas, it allows workers to do what I call self-optimize. Finding the best ways possible to make great products and happy customers, rather than requiring a manager to tell them what work they should be doing.
And of course, it keeps ideas and employees inside the company that might have gone outside the organization to create a startup. And when you think about the skills that you're seeking for particular work needs, you're going to find you'll increasingly need to understand the whole person that you're hiring. One of the most important sign posts of T-skills is that the worker has the proven ability to delve deeply into an area. It's often a critical indicator of the worker's ability to focus. And to show that they can master a particular skill set. But don't over-index on this too much.
Just because someone got an advanced degree in a specific topic, doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be the best fit for the work that needs to be done.
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- Dealing with disruptive change and the new rules of work
- Establishing a new contract with workers
- Rethinking job qualifications
- Hiring for diversity and inclusion
- Identifying key skills for adaptive workers
- Helping your team become lifelong learners
- Leveraging automation for your team
- Becoming an adaptive manager
- Making human resources a partner
- Recognizing when your adaptive strategy is working