What Current Industry Trends Are Hindering Workforce Development?

Full Transcript Below

[ANNOUNCER]: Breaking down everyday workplace issues and diagnosing the hidden sickness, not just the obvious symptom. Our hosts, James and Coby.



[COBY]: Did we lose a patient?



[JAMES]: No, that’s just my lunch.



[COBY]: Hey, thanks for joining us. I’m Coby, he’s James. And let’s get started with a question. What current industry trends are hindering workforce development?



[JAMES]: Well, while there’s a ton of. There’s lots of different industry trends, that are happening out there, and. But really, I think there are four things that I want to talk about in this conversation. the fact that businesses that are primarily family run aren’t evolving with the times. that human services is rarely humane, m and a growth strategies typically undervalue cultural competency and the trap that business owners fall into when their technical skills get in the way of business, the company’s growth. I mean, these are not necessarily new trends, but they are important ones for us to look at. And the reason why I’ve kind of chosen these four is because we see them pop up way too frequently in our work. Well, that and the fact that a couple episodes ago, we talked about the three perspectives that we typically use in building our content, and Kobe got to geek out on his psychological theories. So now it’s my turn. and I really want to explore these from the perspective of how these trends all touch on one of my favorite topics of economic development, as well as, the workforce impact.



[COBY]: And, yes. So can’t. Has to be all about James tonight. Today.



[JAMES]: Not just today. It’s all about me.



[COBY]: but, yeah, so we do see some common trends that really, do kind of come up over and over again. We work with different sectors. and, the thing that is important to realize is that things you mentioned, you know, the family run businesses, not evolving with the norms, you know, our human services, you know, you know, health care, those sort of things. Are they actually humane sectors to work in? The idea of, mergers and acquisitions, you know, not undervaluing, like, you know, the workplace culture and kind of merging. Merging the cultures when they make those acquisitions, and the idea of the technical experts that lead organizations, you know, how. How they can actually end up hindering the growth of the organizations, you know, with their skill sets. These are things that are not necessarily brand new. We’re not saying, in 2024, here’s some brand new stuff.



[JAMES]: What we’re saying is anybody who’s ever worked in a family run business is not surprised by the first point.



[COBY]: Yeah, it’s. But what is, why these are important to talk about, especially now, is maybe the trends haven’t changed, but the workforce has changed. The workforce is different now post 2020. This is a new world that we live in. And even though some of these were old problems that a lot of people, maybe longtime employees or leaders in these sectors might be like, well, these are the costs of doing business. This is just the norm in these sectors. That mentality isn’t going to fly anymore.



[JAMES]: I don’t think they really helped.



[COBY]: No, but it didn’t. But the problem was, these were problems that were felt by the workforce that never didn’t, really have the negative impact on the industries, on the leaders of the businesses themselves. They were more of a workforce problem. These are just what you have to deal with. But now with the shift in the workforce, these are leading to major issues around, you know, talent, insecurity, around, you know, poor growth and scalability, hindering performance. So these are going to be things that if we let these problems stay as the norms and the cost of doing business, they’re going to start taking down the companies, they’re going to start weakening the sectors, and they’re going to end up becoming a scalable problem because the businesses themselves are going to hinder their scalability.



[JAMES]: And what I, it can’t be overstated the impact or that family, run businesses have on our economy, either. The fact that the vast majority of businesses out there are classified as small businesses. And the impact that these businesses have is massive, not only, nationally, but regionally, the impact that they can have from a very local level to provincial to, federal, the ability for small businesses to thrive, to continue to provide key services and supports in the community, to be able to continue to provide, employment, throughout our communities. If we do not support family run businesses, we are going, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. yes, I’m from an, I’ll try not to go on too much of a, rant, but I make that disclaimer every time and it never, I lie. What really frustrates me is that from an economic development perspective, so many times we are focused on chasing smokestacks, we’re so focused on who’s going to be the next big plant that we can draw in. And yes, those are critically important to our infrastructure, to providing jobs, to, securing the supply chain and building. The ripple effects are significant. However, there’s m massive competition, for, the attraction of those types of businesses. And we often do that by neglecting to support our family run businesses or small businesses in general. And these businesses require so much support.



[COBY]: And the thing, I think that’s a really important thing that you actually said there was, you referenced about the supply chain. Because you think about it, the family run businesses tend to be the cornerstone of the supply chain because a lot of them, because like, when we talk about specific industries and specific sectors, talking about like, you know, the, the, the first level industries, things like, you know, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, like, you know, a lot of the ones that kind of get the raw materials. We’re also talking like, you know, transportation, like, you know, trucking, those types of, those types of companies that prove that are the, you know, actual wheels of the supply chain, but really the backbone.



[JAMES]: Of, many industries.



[COBY]: Exactly. And, but even kind of going into then the ones that are affect our everyday, like restaurants and retail, like these sectors, the one you have a lot in common, especially when it comes to the kind of the problems that hit, you know, primarily family run businesses, because there are some, you know, really old traditional thinking about business norms that are kind of pushing things further and further away from what is normal in a family run business to what is normal everywhere else that is getting further and further apart. And it’s going to end up being what’s going to. Going to have a major problem with retaining, employees and having people being able to actually work in these core functional businesses and industry, especially when you talk about supply chain. So it’s really important to be aware that we need to evolve the way that we think about operating family run businesses to be more in line with what is needed, not even just to be normal, but even just to be like, you know, preparing for the future.



[JAMES]: Well, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk specifically about some of the problems that we see. So one of the problems that I often see in, kind of generational family run businesses, we’ll start with those. And that have, maybe it was the grandparents that started the business, and it has, you know, passed to the second, generation or even third generation or more now, depending on the industry, oftentimes what we see, there’s a few different trends that impact this. Frequently. Largely, the further removed you get, the less interested the children become in, taking over the business, and they want to explore their own path. Great, that’s healthy. often what happens when that’s not the case is people get into leadership positions because they are part of the family, not necessarily because they either have worked their way up and actually understand the mechanics of how the business has grown organically. Oftentimes, we see by the third, generation that, there’s a disconnect between the amount of struggles and work that went into the formation of the business. and there’s a disconnect between the importance of maintaining your workforce, building that rapport and that relationship with your workforce, and more of a trying to take a quote unquote corporate approach to it, but without the understanding of what you actually need to do to, remove yourself from the day to day of the business and actually grow and scale the business. there’s a lot of really interesting dynamics that can happen in these generationally run businesses. they oftentimes, another significant trend that we see is a more progressive attitude from, the younger generations wanting to adopt, and change not the focus and the intent of the business, but, trying to, for lack of a better word, evolve with the times and the resistance that they experience in, older. Whether it’s parents or grandparents who technically are not a part of the business anymore, but you’re never going to remove them because they also worked 40 or 50 years in that business. And think of it like another child. It’s a part of the family, right. There are so many challenging dynamics with, generationally family run businesses that, really what needs to happen is an understand. Depending on which of those, categories, the business may fall into, there has to be a connection with the frontline. You cannot lose that, connection with your workforce and what they need and how they are the ones who have gotten you where you are. You also have to respect the generational differences. But it requires a lot, almost like a family counseling, like business family counseling, to bring different generational perspectives along so that the business can continue to evolve.



[COBY]: yeah, because one of the things that. So when we do, we go into organizations and we do kind of our workplace culture investigations and all those sorts of things, like, you know, our, using our diagnostic tools and whatever, where we see a lot of overlap, a lot of commonality we’re talking about family run businesses is there’s a lack of consistency and equity between family and non families. When we do our. When we do our job to satisfaction, diagnostic tools, we set the seven by three rule. We’ll find there’s real issues around consistency, like how consistent the workplace is, the expectations, the norms, everything on employees, and, the amount of equity that exists amongst organization, specifically between family and non family. Not that it’s shocking and we’re like, oh, my gosh, who would ever have predicted this? But it’s something that we can. We end up putting some, you know, real tangible data behind to say, this is, this is happening, whether you intended it to or not.



[JAMES]: Yeah.



[COBY]: And then we talk about, between the different generations, we’re talking about, you know, sometimes there’s often a lack of psychological safety between the different generations. Like the younger generations, the newer generations have, have less of ability to speak up and share thoughts because they haven’t been in the business as long as the other ones. Or there tends to be this idea of, you know, until you put in your 40 years, you know, sit there and look pretty. So there are these problems that you’re kind of right. It’s like problems that may exist, you know, in non, business related families, kind of, kind of carry over into the business.



[JAMES]: Well, I mean, family relationships are a challenge. Business relationships are a challenge. Mixing those two.



[COBY]: Challenge square.



[JAMES]: Yeah. It just compounds. Right. Like, I can, I, I can think of one example that comes to mind is a conversation that we had with a executive, who had taken over the family business, and their parent still very much not involved in the day to day, but had moved to more of a board, advisory, position. And the conflict that they were experiencing, not out of a misalignment of values or wanting to change anything, but the business model hadn’t evolved, hadn’t changed in nearly 70 years. And a lot of our, the way that our businesses engage, with their customers has changed substantially in 70 years. So they were trying to go through and as delicately as possible, try to guide the company into expanding the way that they view their business model. And it just, yeah, I could see the deep care and respect that they had for the company that their grandparent had built for the 40, 50 years that their parent had put into it. But the conflict was still there, and it was, quite literally causing damage internally, because the conflict that existed between parent and child also existed between long term employees who had been there for 30 years, who aligned more with the parents values, and the newer employees who align more with, like, it almost created camps within this company that had such a beautiful, value driven service, to offer.



[COBY]: And I mean, and I think you’re right, going back to what you said, that you almost, almost need a bit of that counseling intervention piece. This is one of the benefits of bringing in a third party. Kind of like the work that we do, where we go in and we’ll do an investigation. It’s okay. One, we’re not part of, you know, we’re from the outside, so, you know, we’ve got, we have, we have no, you know, no horses.

[JAMES]: Emotional stake in the game.



[COBY]: Exactly. And, and here’s the data. Here is what is, you know, like, what is common on the outside, what is what the workforce is going to move towards. Here’s the data based on our evidence based collection gathering that we’ve done for you. Here’s why this matters. In, being with more objectivity that really supports the realities of the situation. So sometimes it is helpful to have kind of that third party intermediary that can speak to the more evidence based, you know, intelligence gathering results of, why we need to move beyond the emotional, kind of like keeping things the way that they’ve always have been into more of, you know, things are different. Here’s the evidence. This is why we have to move forward. And it’s not just me saying it with an emotional attachment. It’s, there’s, you know, there are. If there’s evidence to support this, and this is, and there’s people that without a stake in the game trying to say this is the way forward, sometimes that happens. It’s something that can make a huge difference. Sometimes it, you know, it doesn’t always, you know, do all the good is just done by a third party voice. But, but sometimes you need to find a new intervention to address the old problems.



[JAMES]: All right, why don’t we jump into the next one? Because we camped out here for longer than anticipated.



[COBY]: That’s okay. Well, this, that’s one that you have, you’ve, you know, dealt a lot with. So something that you’re a lot to you. The next one, actually, this one might be worse. Talking about..



[JAMES]: Three hour podcast.



[COBY]: Yeah. Are human services, actually humane. And when we talk about what we mean by human services, we’re talking, like, you know, people centric, supporting, you know, human servicing, you know, human needs.



[JAMES]: things like healthcare, things like education.



[COBY]: Yeah, a lot of nonprofits, Those types of things, these sectors where they end up having the biggest kind of, like, problematic approach is they over rely on the compassion and values driven motivations of the workforce to be the primary things that brings, that attracts talent to the sectors and retains them, that they know people are there for. They want to be there because of the missions of the, of this sector. So they almost rely too much on that, that they’re like, well, because you have your own motivations for being here, we don’t have to necessarily take care of you the way that we should.



[JAMES]: Yeah. And it’s funny because look at the three kind, of industries that we just, listed there. Healthcare. Many, many, many people get into the healthcare sector because they care about people. They want to provide care. It’s a very, it attracts people who are often very compassionate, and that is an absolute good thing, especially in a industry, where your responsibilities are to take care of others and provide care and health and support. We’ve talked about motivation many times in this podcast, and I’m going to repeat something that I’m sure we’ve said so many times before, is that the reliance on kind of the big picture, why, the, the change that an organization is trying to make, that, world, to save the world or social good, that is a good thing. That is a good thing to promote, it’s a very good thing to identify, and it’s a very good thing to communicate with your employees. The problem is it’s, it’s a good way of, kind of spark, igniting motivation, or, But it’s not a good way of sustaining motivation. And this is the problem that these industries rely on, is that they try to, they attract people who are very motivated by the, the aspirational, big picture change that the organization is engaged in, and then they fail to make that connection to their day to day, they. And not only is it about connecting purpose, but oftentimes the conditions that we require people to work in are, well, not humane. Yeah. Whether, it’s working in situations that are unsafe, whether that’s due to call it nature of the work, if you want, or it could be. I know in health care, it’s often due to understaffing, the conditions that we put people in run completely counter to the values that we promote externally. And people are very quick to pick up on hypocrisy. I don’t care what industry we’re talking. Well, just in general, human beings are very good at picking up on those inconsistencies.



[COBY]: The thing that’s so, like, so difficult when it comes to things like, because like healthcare and even senior care, which is within the scope, it’s kind of its own beast in itself, is that those are, again, chronically understaffed. Those are usually, you know, like, they’re very often fast paced, kind of mother nature, reactive types of, sectors and industries. But the work in the everyday is so, is what is pushing people away, because there are often, you know, difficult environments to be in. And like I say, they over rely on, well, you have a big heart and you want to make a difference. That’s enough to keep you in the industry that we don’t necessarily have to solve these cultural problems, or we’ll try and say, well, we’ll just pay you more. And they look for short band aid solutions, and they don’t actually. And every, almost every year that the culture doesn’t get addressed, things compound and get worse. But then when you talk about other things like education and nonprofits, one thing that most people don’t realize is that there is a plague of toxicity of toxic workplaces in the nonprofit sector. And something that most people don’t realize unless you’ve actually worked in it, that a lot of, and there’s kind of a few reasons for it. Some of it is, again, the over reliance on the mission being enough to keep people there. Some of it is a lot of them don’t have the funding to support the internal operations. They don’t often have good hr, good practices, good policies, because. Because they don’t have.



[JAMES]: The wages are often lower. there’s comparable jobs like I can think in a lot of nonprofits, especially nonprofits that are delivering, social services to community groups or to the community. They often have parallels, or, connections within, government agencies that are. The government workers are doing very similar to work to what they do, but the compensation, is substantially different. The perks are substantially different. So you have almost this two tiered system that they see the, inequities in, and it burns people out. It makes you. And when you see that for years on end with no hope, feeling no hope of it changing, it causes you to become jaded. And to turn that anger directed, it has to be directed somewhere.



[COBY]: Well, and the thing is, is like, it’s. It’s so hard for people to kind of get. To get their mind around how I, have a job of helping the community, giving them what they need, providing them the necessary requirements to support their quality of life. But my own organization isn’t properly funded, supported, have the internal infrastructure to give me what I need to function, to operate, to meet my quality of life, I’m over pushed. I’m, you know, like, we don’t have good progressive discipline policy. We don’t have a lot of job security because our work is funded contract to contract.



[JAMES]: Yeah.



[COBY]: You know, we’re being. We’re paid substantially less than the government employees doing a lot of the same work. We’re at the whelm or at the whim of government funding. And, you know, and so there’s so many problems, and often we’re working with, you know, very difficult, emotionally exhausting positions. And sometimes, you know, the organizational structure doesn’t allow for good hr practices to exist, good cultures internally to exist. And, you know, but there’s also. But there’s no funding to make them better. Like, like, there’s no, like, a lot of boards are toxic because there’s no, there’s not board training.


[JAMES]: There’s no. Sometimes there’s no board screening.



[COBY]: Yeah.



[JAMES]: The first five people to raise their hands become the board members for a community nonprofit with no support, no training, no guidance. anyways, I don’t want to crap too much on boards, but, man, some of them are just terrible.



[COBY]: Absolutely.



[JAMES]: And some of them. Some people seek out those positions, too, because they have an axe to grind. And we see this so many times with community run agencies, agencies that somebody with an agenda, somebody, with an axe to grind will get on and they will just derail it every converse. Anyways, m. It is. Yes, it is a very frustrating, very prevalent problem that has to be addressed for the longevity and security of the people working in the industry.



[COBY]: And again, not. I don’t want to spend too much time on this one thing because we have other ones to get through. But the other one we should mention is when it comes to education, because, like, when it comes to the work environment that a lot of people that work in the teaching sector deal with, they deal with, you know, very difficult ones. And we’re not talking about just teachers. Teachers have a lot of challenges. Again, in the US, they’re grossly underpaid, and they’re like, you know, you’re. And there’s a big problems with that. In Canada, Things aren’t quite so bad at all, but one population that is struggling to maintain any kind of numbers is the teacher’s aid, educational assistant. These are people that are paid poverty wages to often work with the most difficult, demanding, sometimes dangerous, students that are in the building, and they suffer major violence in the workplace. And the most common demographic that works in these positions are people that are kind of like, you know, north of 45, and, you know, and it’s, And they’re there because they want to. They’re there for, compassionate reasons, but they’re underpaid, they’re in dangerous situations, and they’re not. And they’re, you know, it’s. And again, they have very little job security and everything else like that, too.



[JAMES]: It can be such an incredibly fulfilling job to help a student, to see the light bulb go on, for a student, somebody to help somebody who’s struggling to overcome, those challenges. It is a very values driven job, and it is at the same time, an incredibly dangerous and undervalued position and almost criminally so.



[COBY]: So, like, the tough part is that it’s say, what are the solutions for the human services field? Honestly, a lot of it is you need to dig down and unearth the rot that exists in them. Like we say, when we go in to do cultural investigations in these sectors, we’re like, we’re not going to be able to. Again, we’re not going to find short, quick fixes. We’re not going to find cheap, inexpensive, set it and forget it, type of fixes. A lot of these need to be long term solutions and evolutions.



[JAMES]: There are things that we can do in the short term to help.



[COBY]: Absolutely.



[JAMES]: But it needs to be part of a larger strategy.



[COBY]: Like, and we need the fact, and, like, going back to the nonprofits, they need to have their internal operations, funded enough to take care of people that work in there. Because this is the part of the reason why nonprofits tend to struggle is that they are not supported for their operations. They don’t have a budget to allow for proper HR structure, proper workplace culture pieces.



[JAMES]: Proper training for managers and leaders and boards.



[COBY]: Exactly. And with healthcare, we need to really be doing, these are going to be, slow fixes, but these are going to be fixes that are honestly, if we don’t start doing something now, things are only going to get worse. So, yes, the solution won’t be a quick fix, but they’re just going to decay and decay and decay. if we keep waiting on these, on the, on finding these answers and really start to change the. The underlying foundation of the culture.



[JAMES]: And the comment that I would always repeat when I was in the economic development space is that we didn’t get into these problems overnight. We’re not going to get out of these problems overnight, but we’re not going to get out of them at all if we don’t take a long term strategic view of where do we want to actually be and how are we going to get there?



[COBY]: Absolutely. All right, let’s move on to the next one. mergers and acquisition growth. focused organization sectors tend to undervalue the, workplace cultures, and they need to merge the workplace cultures, the work environment, then the norms that exist between the organizations. And there’s often too much of a focus on amalgamating and aligning the processes and the physical assets, and the people are left just to kind of figure it out as they go.



[JAMES]: Yeah.



[COBY]: And this is something that. I mean, we see this in again. Again, mergers and acquisition growth, is common in some sectors, like trucking, automotive, cannabis, private schools, municipalities. It happens kind of the whole gambit. But this idea of, you know, under valuing the importance of, you know, again, the cultural environment, the people side of change, is something that tends to just leave to kind of hemorrhaging people as just something that. Well, that’s just what happens when you emerge. And that norm is what we have to kind of really start to change.



[JAMES]: What’s. What’s interesting is that early in our work, we would typically see this after the merger had happened and businesses have gone through the bleeding process, and they’ve realized, oh, crap, we’ve done something wrong. Now we need to try to fix it. That’s where we would often be brought in early on. What’s personally been more, exciting to see is having conversations earlier on with companies of, this is a. This is an approach that we are. This is a key part of our growth strategy. We want to make sure that we’re doing it right. So there is some, at least in. And, I mean, we see. We have a bias because this is the work that we do. So people who are looking for this work are probably coming to people like us to have these conversations.



[COBY]: Right.



[JAMES]: But it is encouraging to see the fact that there’s starting. There’s a trend, at least, of recognizing that the cultural, amalgamation of organizations is as critical as the operational, as the, asset management. And that has been a major failing that we’ve seen up until now of companies going through the process and not taking the time to bring people along with them. Expecting people to show up and shut up is a mentality that we’ve seen a lot. Expecting people to just. Well, this is the new reality. So it’s. We’re all going to just jump into the deep end and sink or swim together. It can be very, very damaging on the organization, because if your key growth strategy is the acquisition of new, new business units, new locations, whatever, you want, those functional and up and running as quickly as possible, you’ve probably done your due diligence to make sure that they are a profitable entity, or they can be turned around into a profitable entity, in a relatively short time, but it requires people to do that.



[COBY]: Well, one of the things that’s funny, when we give our organizational change management practitioner certification and we have discussions with often kind of the, employees in a lot of these M&A companies that are responsible for facilitating a lot of change, one of the things that kind of comes up, which is always kind of funny, is that some companies have, like, we’ve identified these great companies, these great locations, these great resources, these great client bases, and we want to. We want to. We want to merge them into our operations, but they don’t often think about. But they don’t say, these great staff, these great people. It’s almost like we want this business and the people coming with it are almost like a necessary evil and. Or they’re just. They’re just the unknown. So one of the things that is really helpful, and we kind of say to them, too, is that it? Why aren’t you doing kind of cultural investigations about what it’s like in these workplaces? Like, do you know the amount of how much job dissatisfaction exists right now? What’s the level of psychological safety that people feel like? How connected do they feel to their workplace? Because if you have a temperature gauge, but where they’re at, before you go through this often chaotic change process, you at least know what it might look like at the end. But if you go in saying, these are the unknowns, and we’re going to try and figure out, we don’t, you know, we don’t know how it’s all going to work out, which is, let’s just roll the die then, you know, because hemorrhaging people is just part of the norm when it comes to these kind of situations. That’s the problematic. Everything is so reactive.



[COBY]: Like we say, when we were brought in, you know, early on, it was always reactive. But those that are smart enough to go, okay, we do this a lot. We need to be really good at this. So let’s be proactive. Have the tools, competencies in place to make this as smooth as other parts. We’ve already got down path.



[JAMES]: And the key is, again, it needs to be a strategic approach. You’re taking a. This is part of your strategy, so include strategy in it. You need to investigate your workplace first and create a benchmark that you can measure others against. That’s one of the key things in an acquisition, model that I think gets missed and could be so powerful is if you first create a benchmark that you want to hold others to, then you can do an investigation. Investigation to understand where are they, in relation to your benchmark that you’ve created, then you know exactly what areas need to be addressed in order to bring them up to your benchmark, whether that is pre acquisition or post acquisition. You still, if you have a solid understanding of and have investigated your workplace culture to understand what’s happening and you create that benchmark, then you’ve got something to measure against. And because just collecting data, collecting data is good. Using data is better, right?



[COBY]: Absolutely. So, yeah, so again, a lot of it when it comes to this, is having that pre, the pre-emptive, proactive strategy to go into, let’s do it right. Let’s just not accept that we lose people, we hammer people during this time. Imagine what would it be like if you didn’t do that. All right, so let’s move on to the last one. and let’s try not to go too long on this one because we could, is when we talk about organizations, that are led by technical experts, there tends to be a gap in competencies when it comes to leadership, when that ends up hurting kind of long term sustainability and growth.



[JAMES]: So we see this very frequently. Ah, again, this isn’t an, this isn’t a single industry. This is what often happens when you have a deep technical understanding. I mean, we start businesses based from our strengths. If I’m a engineer then, and I want to start a business, my business is, probably has to do with engineering, because that’s my knowledge base, that’s my skill set, that’s the deep understanding that I bring that knowledge and skill base, will help me to create, let’s say I’m creating a product, it will help me to create a really good product. It’ll help me to, because I have the technical knowledge to understand what the needs are, where the gaps are, and I can fit my business into that. The challenge comes from success. When you are successful in business and you start to grow, and at a certain point, the founder either needs to move out of the day to day and work on growing the business, or they need to find a partner or somebody who can do that. Where we see the problem is with founders who have this deep technical knowledge, who have moved out of their area of expertise to grow the business that they have started, they now have an entirely different skill set that they have to learn. They have to know how to not only talk about their product or service and showcase their depth of knowledge in that regard. They need to know how to manage people, how to lead people how to create a business that is scalable and it requires a different mentality. And it’s funny because if you as a technical founder, were to go apply for a CEO job in another area, you are completely unqualified for it. You have the job because you founded the business, because you, it’s not that you can’t do the job. I’m not saying that technical founders are always going to fail, but there has to be a recognition that the skill sets needed to start something is different than the skillset needed to grow something.



[COBY]: So again, when we say kind of where, where we see this, we see this again, tech engineering common, we see some in manufacturing, especially more in the technical manufacturing, some of the more the advanced manufacturing, we even see it, happen some in finance. but the idea of, yeah, we, so we call that problematic issue, we call it the technical founder paradox. So that’s when the skills, abilities and mindset of the founders, which were crucial in starting and growing the business, are what stand in the way of the business’s sustainability and scalability. If they do not develop the leadership skills, the people management skills, the more well rounded business acumen that’s needed to grow the business internally, as it grows externally, then they tend to be the biggest barrier to sustainability and scalability.



[JAMES]: It can happen in any industry when somebody has a depth of expertise, that will help the formation and the creation, of an entity. We need to recognize that there’s a skill, there’s a different set of skills required to kind of take the business, to move from a lifestyle business where the founder is engaged in the day to day, to a scalable business that doesn’t require, that’s not built off the backs of the founder.



[COBY]: It’s funny because I remember when we did some of our, some of our certification training, we’ve had, we heard stories of people that were like HR managers or middle level managers, kind of in some of these, corporations where like, you know, the, the organization was started by a team of like core founders that grew it from a garage business to a 250 person business. But they never got any better at leading, people, managing people. So, so many of the cultural problems, the workplace culture issues, the talent, I mean, securities, all the other kind of stuff really stem from. They were too involved in the everyday. They were more comfortable, they weren’t comfortable in the jobs that they had built themselves into. And they were kind of going back to. We talked about, in a past episode about skills required for success. We talked about employability skills. These founders who kind of started this company out of school, and that was 20 years later, they were unemployable, in a sense, in their own jobs, in their own company, because they never upskilled themselves to the new requirements of this position. And the company was faltering. They hit that ceiling where when they became not a lifestyle business, that they became a scalable business that they can’t scale because they can’t hold on to people and they can’t maintain productivity because it’s. Because the leadership, because it’s broken from the top down.



[JAMES]: Right.



[COBY]: The whole idea of the fish, Ross, from the head down or whatever it is, right. But I mean, it’s. And so it’s a bit of like an aha moment for people like Jesus, does that sound like where I work? But it’s a, it is a problem, which is why we call it, you know, the technical founder paradox, because, again, the skills that got them to this great point are what’s going to hold them back if they don’t evolve, that, they could become unemployable in their own company.



[JAMES]: And their skills are incredibly valuable. Let’s not miss that fact that the depth of knowledge, the industry knowledge, industry expertise is incredibly valuable. and you have to have that to be a successful founder or somebody on your team needs to have that. It’s just, we default to our own preferences. So as you’ve moved up, because the company has grown and you’ve got, you went from doing everything yourself to now having ten people underneath of you who are working, doing that work, you tend to micromanage because you are comfortable doing that work, but it’s a trap that founders fall into that can be avoided, but it requires that recognition and training on. How do I now move? How do I move from doing everything myself to empowering others to do it?



[COBY]: Right, yeah, exactly. And what do, what do I, who do I need to surround myself with? What are the things that I need to develop in myself? There’s a lot of critical thinking and critical reflection into your own position, into the norms of your company as they’ve evolved over time. Take a hard look at where you’re at and what do you need now in order to achieve this? Your, the next success over the next two to five years. Right. But, yeah, so, so again, it’s something that, you know, often it does require them acknowledging that, but the problem is a lot of that. A lot of that. A lot actually, a lot of these, all of these four things kind of happen a bit organically and are a bit of a norm, which is the problem, which is why we say we have to stop letting them be the norm, because these are problems that are only going to get worse as the businesses, as the workforce continues to continue to evolve and as things continue to change. These are going to be what takes some companies down. If because just because it was the norm, you know, post or pre 2020, doesn’t mean that they’re going to. That they’re going to.



[JAMES]: Your business is constantly evolving, and you either evolve with the times or you get swept away.



[COBY]: All right, I think I’ll do a quick summary. so the question was, what current industry trends are hindering workforce development? Well, the four that we mentioned were that primarily family run businesses are not evolving with business norms, that there’s often a lack of consistency and a lack of equity between family and non family. And there can be challenges with psychological safety between different generations. We talked about our human services humane. There’s an over reliance in healthcare, nonprofits, senior care, education, where there’s an over reliance on the compassion and personal motives of individuals going into the sector to be all that they need to stay there. And we often don’t create the environment that allows them to last long term, which is where we or any of the problems that we’re seeing today in companies that have a merger and acquisition growth strategy, often they undervalue or they’re too reactive when it comes to the cultural mergers, that we need to be as focused on the people side of change as we are in the process side of change. Because hemorrhaging talent during these. These amalgamations and transformations are what is not okay anymore. It never was okay, but, especially going to be problematic now when it comes to experts in tasks and products and not necessarily leadership. We have a lot of founders that got the company to a great part with their current skills. But if those skills don’t evolve, they’re going to fall into the technical founder paradox, where those skills and abilities are, that were crucial to getting them to this point are going to be what stand in the way of the businesses being able to continue to grow and scale and be sustainable. Largely, all of these problems are not new, and they’ve become increasingly dangerous with the new evolution of the workforce post 2020. The major problem that all these problems that all these, different trends run into is they create an insecurity in your talent, your talent pipelines become weaker, your retention problems become problematic, and everything gets so much more costly, to the point that it could end up being what damages the organization and even your sector in the long term.



[JAMES]: Yeah.



[COBY]: All right, so that about does it for us. For a full archive of the podcast and access to the video version hosted on our YouTube channel, visit www.roman3.ca/podcast thanks for joining us.



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