According to author and TED speaker Simon Sinek, "a worthy rival inspires us to take on an attitude of improvement." That’s part of what he calls the infinite mindset. This infinite mindset is what Sinek believes differentiates businesses that think ahead versus those that live in the past. "Business is a journey without a final destination," he says. "The goal is not to win but keep playing."
But the infinite mindset isn’t just about leadership and business. It can have a profound impact on talent acquisition, too. The recruiter with a finite mindset is playing to win, or simply filling open positions as needed. Meanwhile, a recruiter with an infinite mindset is playing to keep playing, focusing not only on filling roles but also on helping management meet its long-term goals.
Now you might be thinking: A recruiter’s job is to find great candidates and HR’s role is to keep these seats, isn’t it? Yep, according to yesterday’s metrics. That mindset alone worked for a long time, but it’s becoming obsolete. The infinite mindset is the future of recruitment because it focuses on a bigger cause. It explores how the employee in the seat brings value to the organization and how the organization provides ongoing value to the employee, meeting employee needs as they grow—financially, personally and professionally.
The problem is that too many business owners and leaders don’t understand, recognize or play the infinite game. But without long term strategy, recruitment wins have a short shelf life. Employees and customers want to know what you will do for them tomorrow, not what you accomplished yesterday.
Here’s how to adopt an infinite mindset at your organization:
Be Mindful of Workforce Trends
Come 2020, the oldest millennials in the workforce will be over 40 years old. If you’re still focused on millennials alone after their 20 years in the workforce, you have lost the war on talent. Meanwhile, the Baby Boomer brain drain will continue unabated as nearly all of them will have retired, creating skilled worker shortages that will live on for the foreseeable future.
Moreover, employment will rise through at least 2021. The number of job openings will continue to exceed job seekers. And, while 75 million workers will be replaced by technology, 133 million new jobs will be created by 2022, according to World Economic Forum. The year 2020 won’t be the end of the war for talent. Not only is the war for talent unwinnable, but it’s also evolving. It’s an infinite game that requires an infinite mindset.
Don’t Declare it "Game Over" When You Fill a Position
Of course, it’s important to celebrate the "win." You scored once you’ve filled a position, but remember the journey continues. Keep "wins’" in perspective, but look beyond the immediate hire. How can you help keep the employee engaged and comfortable in her career trajectory two or three years from now? What new skills can she learn or improve and where can she be deployed in the organization tomorrow? Make retention and career development a metric to which talent acquisition professionals are held at least partially accountable.
Look For Transferable Skills
In an era where technology evolves faster than academic institutions can prepare individuals for the workforce, skills like empathy, collaboration, critical thinking and self-management are becoming increasingly more important than traditional hard skills that can become obsolete quickly. What’s more, hiring competition is fierce, and businesses outside your industry could be looking to fill some of the same roles as you. For example, IT isn’t the only industry competing for people with IT skills. Finance, healthcare, retail and transportation are all in the same fight for talent.
Sinek believes that we do not get to choose the rules of the game, and I agree. The only choice we get is how we want to play. The objective of talent acquisition shouldn’t be about winning the war for talent, but perpetually playing the game.
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This article was originally published in Laurie Ruettimann's blog in December 2022.
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