No-one’s redundant. Finding purpose in unexpected places

Written by Shane Grove
Updated 1 year ago

As I approach my 56th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on my career - over 30 years in technology, including 7 years at Vodafone, 6 years at Cisco and now starting on my own start-up adventure.

I’ve been thinking specifically about the beginnings and exits I’ve experienced and about the skills, experience and intellectual property that leave the building when corporates ‘spill and fill’ employees using limited redundancy policies to ‘refresh’ their workforce. I believe these policies are short-sighted and need a re-think, especially in light of our global skills crisis.

From bruised ego to a kick in the butt

For me the technology bias started when I saw a dual floppy Amstrad PC in London in 1986. It ran an MS Works program file on one disk and the storage on the other (some of you may remember those days). What got me hooked was the idea of how this could help my dad’s small rubbish truck business speed up and change the basic admin of his business. I bought that Amstrad PC, returned to New Zealand and started my first business: Second byte Computers – all when I was 23. My passion for new ideas and helping people through technology was fired up and hasn’t stopped since. 

I’ve had a good career in technology mainly with a few large US tech firms, most of whom are constantly shedding their skins to align to the latest trend or demand. This is to be expected as customer, business, political, environment needs change and they find themselves unable to reskill their workforce at the pace needed. I’ve had two such shedding experiences here in Australia and luckily, in both cases I was paid well during and on exit.  

When I was first offered a ‘package’ I was upset and angry, “why me?”. It bruised my ego and it was hard to see the opportunity it presented. But in both cases I have found a new purpose and moved on to better things. These events, as many in life, can provide the kick in the butt you need to think about who you are, what you want and what’s really important.  

Corporations should look inward first

The challenge I see is that corporates are looking at the workforce requirement with the wrong lens. This ‘annualised shedding’ is a bad policy that misses the mark and forgoes the opportunity re-skilling and the right skilling offers in a post 2020 world.

Within all organisations there is a wealth of dormant talent, expertise and skills that are not visible to those who only draw the line on the spreadsheet that determine who stays and who goes.   People build an amazing catalogue of capability and experience over time but often are only recognised for the current role or skills they have at a single point in time - thereby missing the opportunity to explore the diverse experiences each of us has. 

When I say experience – I don’t mean job title and some dates on a CV. I mean the experiences gained in the dash between dates.  What did you do? How did you do it? What worked and what didn’t? How did you deal with x or y – can you share that with me? That’s the value lost by the spreadsheet decision makers, that’s the employee engagement score killer, and sadly that’s what hurts your people.

Experience is unique to everyone – no two people have the same experience. We’ve all faced different things and we all have a different view of the events around us – emotionally and physically. Telling your stories to others is a great thing to do – something us humans have been doing since day dot. We need to value experience and the opportunity to share and to receive the golden nuggets of applied knowledge.

It often isn’t about the money

All humans want recognition and need purpose. Recognition comes in many forms, sometimes too much, sometimes too little and sometimes misdirected. In the workplace, recognising someone’s contribution, valuing their experience, and allowing them to share that with others is a great way for them to own the company’s purpose and know their efforts are supporting both the company objectives and that of their colleagues.  At a personal level, evolving the skills you need to thrive in your chosen field - or even a new field - gives you purpose whether you’re ‘shedded’ or not. Having the opportunity to shape another person’s skill development and pass on your expertise only adds to this sense of purpose and belonging.

Providing your people with the ability to showcase themselves and identifying the skills and experience they can contribute is a lost opportunity when redundancies happen. Employers all too often chase the next shiny trend and fail to unlock the kitbag of talent in their existing people. 

Sharing the world’s experience, one personal connection at a time 

In late 2018, following a ‘package’ from my last gig, a good friend Darren Scott asked me to become Co-Founder of TEX.  TEX ‘The Experience Exchange’ was an opportunity to take my passion for innovation and helping people and become part of something that redefines how employees are valued, how they connect with others and how they continue to grow.  

‘Finding the right person and the right time with the right experience to help me now’ - a simple concept but difficult to scale within large organisations and across the business economy.  Well at TEX, we think we’re solving that challenge – come and see how.

No-one is redundant, everyone has experience – everyone can share and everyone can continue to learn. Whatever stage you’re at there’s someone who needs your help and someone can help you.

Join us on TEX. Everyone is welcome.

Shane Grove

Co Founder TEX.inc

 

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