Using Mentors and Technology to Close the Talent Gap

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New logistics technologies can lead to major operational improvements. However, few organizations have the personnel—along with the right mindset and skills—to take advantage, much less the ability to adopt new processes and infrastructure.

This talent gap can lead to costly mismatches between supply and demand, and is one of the primary reasons so many digital transformation initiatives fail.

One innovative way to close the talent gap—without ineffective hiring and firing tactics—is to combine the proven effectiveness of mentorship with the scalability of technology. New neuroscience research on mentoring and new technologies provide a cost-efficient way in which organizations can build the talent they need for future success. The results of these programs show that participants overwhelmingly demonstrate the desired attitudes, behaviors, and skills.

What Causes the Talent Gap?

The talent gap in logistics organizations is a result of two main issues: insufficient transformational leadership skills and misalignment of employee skills with the new environment. This order matters because effective transformational leadership establishes the conditions needed to close the skills gap.

High-performing logistics organizations strive for consistent operational excellence. This requires a comprehensive framework of attitudes, processes, and technologies as detailed below. However, the skills needed for transformations directly conflict with those needed for operational excellence. Given this skills gap, organizations must either clean house or develop people who have the mindset and skills needed to perform new functions. Unfortunately, a traditional training program in which a technology consultant drones through a slide deck rarely accomplishes much, and people quickly revert back to their old ways.

Closing the Gap

Mentors take a consistent course of action that stimulates specific neural responses and leads to long-term change. The good news is that this process can be captured digitally and replicated across an organization. What’s needed is a way to “discover” the mindset and skills needed for the new environment, and turn that into a mentoring program. As it turns out, the best mentors organize their expertise in four ways:

  1. Purpose: What is a compelling reason for participating in the transformation and the new job?
  2. Path to mastery: How did I figure this out, and how can my experience be organized so others can follow suit?
  3. Definition of mastery: What tips can I give to others to master the mindset and skills needed for both the transformation and the new world?
  4. Instant mentoring: What are some suggested actions that address problems or exceptions resulting from the “messy” real world?

With the correct structure, this information can be extracted from one or two top performers in about three hours, forming the basis for a digital mentorship program.

Creating Engagement

The best mentors start the transformational process by focusing on the “why.” This can involve asking personnel to write their own purpose and discuss it with peers. Building a shared, compelling purpose causes neural changes that promote strong motivation for change, openness to new ideas, and accelerated learning.

Great mentors then use a consistent set of cues and questions to drive practical application of the new mindset and skills. When people read the experts’ tips, do the actions, record what they learned, and share their experience with peers, they rewire connections in their brains, creating new long-term capabilities. Typically, it takes about eight to 20 hours of practice to completely close a talent gap.

Results at Scale

While all the above can be done without technology for small groups, new cloud- and mobile-computing applications enable larger organizations to scale this approach no matter how many people you to need develop. This gives inbound logistics organizations the ability to embrace new technologies with the confidence that their team will adopt new skills and attitudes quickly and efficiently.

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