Michigan, my home, has seen its fair share of economic challenges over the last few years. Michigan lost about a million jobs since the beginning of the last recession- That's roughly half of the jobs lost by the entire country. Not surprisingly, Michigan was the only state to decline in population between the 2000 and 2010 Census.
Michiganders have, by and large, kept their optimism, however. Over 70,000 jobs were added back to the state in the last year, which is a great sign. And the push is on to add more. More jobs in the state mean more people moving here- which means more business for Stewart Title, sparking my particular interest. In surveying the scene, I have noticed an interesting split in the psychology of job recruitment.
In following the mindset of many of the people involved with economic development, the emphasis seems to be on talent. "Talented", as defined by the economic developers, essentially equates with "trained" and runs the gamut from skilled tradespeople (e.g. machinists) up to engineers and doctors. The thought is that by recruiting and offering a "talented" workforce, more businesses will be attracted to create and maintain a physical presence in Michigan. It makes sense- given a choice between talented or untalented workers, who wouldn't opt for talent?
I attended a seminar on Friday of last week, however, about setting goals for 2012. Part of the speaker's presentation was about 4 steps to success. These were:
1) Mindset (a combination of belief and a sense of urgency)
2) Strategy (having a daily, weekly and monthly plan)
3) The ability to set appointments; and
The speaker specifically noted that none of these steps involves talent. In the context of these steps, talent is completely unnecessary!
I thought about the 4 steps in relation to "talent" and decided to categorize them under the umbrella of "attitude." And I wondered: Would it be feasible to recruit and offer an entire workforce of people with the right attitude? What if our schools didn't just teach "skills"- What if they also taught work ethic and disposition? We learn an awful lot from our jobs, but how often is attitude actually taught, not just expressed as part of a corporate vision?
Obviously, to have both talent and attitude is optimum. And attitutde alone won't help a layperson work in a factory, design a building or perform surgery. But maybe there is a premise being missed by the economic developers. As I continue to monitor Michigan's progress, I will be curious to see if touting our talent is enough to let employers experience our attitude!