Before outsourcing, grow your internal talent
In today’s fast-paced environment businesses and their employees have to learn to become more and more adaptable and agile. To achieve this, many organisations adopt outsourcing as one of their key strategies and at the same time position themselves externally as an attractive employer to be able to quickly and dynamically adjust their workforce to emerging needs through external hiring.
With many organisations struggling to retain talent, an aspect that is often not fully considered when looking at the ‘cost’ of external solutions, may it be outsourcing or hiring in, is the psychological impact on the existing workforce. For example, an employee might feel that instead of being given the opportunity to grow and develop into a role, it is being filled by looking externally. When employees feel that the psychological contract between them and their employer is broken, this can have an extremely detrimental impact on motivation and commitment. However, the good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case.
Employees who have a desire for and the skills to take control of their career have a much stronger inner compass that equips them well for change and to view it as an opportunity rather than something that is done to them. Amongst other things, they operate from a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset and have greater clarity around their values, strengths, motivation, and purpose. Also, they have cultivated a strong network with which they openly share their ambitions and development goals and feel confident in asking for support when aiming to turn their ambitions into actions.
All of these sound obvious and advice can be found in a seemingly endless stream of books, blogs, podcasts, training modules and more. The question is, if it is so obvious, why is it then not happening more? The simple answer is that it can be very hard to make this shift and that just being told to do it doesn’t provide the required internal motivation to put in the necessary time and effort to succeed.
This is where coaching can make a huge contribution. Coaching puts the spotlight on the self and surfaces difficult questions that might otherwise not come up. It creates sustainable inner shifts that change how situations are being perceived and how we choose to react.
An example many can relate to is feedback. When receiving feedback we often focus on the content with little or no curiosity for how we are reacting to the feedback and what we might be able to learn from reflecting on our reaction. By putting the spotlight on us, coaching enables us to fundamentally shift our relationship to feedback. I have seen coachees I worked with moving from being passive participants in a feedback process that they genuinely hated to actively seeking feedback that’s relevant for them by using their creativity and initiative to adopt an approach that works for them. The same is true for giving feedback where the simple advice “You need to give more feedback” rarely has the desired effect but coaching questions like “What would it take for you to give feedback more often?” can be an important first step in creating a real shift.
Ultimately, with the support of employee coaching, employers can prepare their people for being successful and happy in an agile and demanding environment. This is where the argument comes full circle. If coaching is the approach of choice, is outsourcing it the best strategy? Considering that a sustainable and lasting impact is most likely if a coaching mindset becomes truly embedded in the culture of an organisation, it might be more a question of maximising internal opportunities for learning and growth and building and supplementing this through working with external partners.
It’s not always the most convenient, quickest and cheapest approach in the short term to have a strong focus on maximising internal resources but it pays off in the long term. Coaching has the potential to be a key ingredient for success in this approach, both as a talent development tool and as a valuable skill to enhance a company’s culture.