No matter how much business operators try to convince me, I have never fully bought into the idea of using outside, contract staff.
Let me explain …
There are times when new people bring a different dynamic to what we do and how we operate and these individuals can play a key role when we don’t have the internal expertise. However, whilst working in the Pharmaceutical Industry I used to become exasperated when managers declared that ‘we need to hire in external expertise’ before they had taken any steps to determine whether that expertise already existed in-house.
All of us have many talents and abilities which have become latent or hidden over the years.
- Forgotten about talents we once had or hobbies we once enjoyed
- Assumed we’ll never need softer, touchy-feely skills so have locked them away and forgotten about them
- Always wanted to give something a try but haven’t had the chance
- Been told at school that we’d never succeed in a particular area, even though we really enjoyed it or worse still, were good at it!
- Been told we’ll never be successful
… the list goes on and I’m sure you can add your own reasons.
Let’s consider one or two ways in which companies would benefit if they used in-house expertise over hired-in expertise. Companies would have
- People working who are already fully conversant with the culture
- People already established within the social networks of the company, with established relationships across multiple disciplinary areas
- Chance to develop their people, thereby increasing their sense of belonging and resulting in potentially greater job-satisfaction, commitment and input
I would also suggest that they’d save considerable costs and time delays that inevitably occur when new people are brought into existing structures and cultures. Contract staff cost more, it’s just that we perceive that they’re easier to get rid of when we know longer need them without worrying about pensions etc and we can often ‘hide’ their costs elsewhere in the figures by keeping them off the headcount! But what happened if we had people that were so flexible that we didn’t have to adopt or pay homage to the ‘hire and fire’ methods we have become accustomed to?
The problem is that bringing in people from outside or looking outside of the company is simply too easy. We don’t have to ask too many questions and we don’t have to worry about changing who we are or what we do.
But coming one step back, wouldn’t it be much healthier for all concerned if companies di take time to help their staff discover and develop talents, whether they are forgotten or hidden, so that at least they knew what was in the melting pot. With information, it is possible to make reasoned decisions. Making these decisions in the absence of information is dangerous and potentially life-threatening to a company.
Sometimes it is unavoidable that external talent is required to achieve a goal. My challenge would be, how often could we avoid it and enjoy the benefits by a bit of preparation and enough conviction to take the risk?
The results of ignoring what and whom we have can be very telling and equally catastrophic. In 1917 Forbes first quoted their top 100 Companies. When this list was re-visited in 1987, 61 of the original companies were no longer in existence and of remaining 39, only 18 were still on the Top 100 list. The main reason for dropping off the list or going out of business was that these companies had stayed still and tried to fight what was going on around them. The 18 companies that stayed in the Top 100 were those that adopted a strategy which embraced change. And for this, discovery and implementation of creativity within each member of the workforce was key.
We are all creative. Do our bosses and companies know that? Have they looked for it or do we perhaps need to find our talents and let those in our place of work know?