There’s no doubt that the automotive industry has a period of rapid change ahead of it. A recent report from McKinsey states that the sector must ‘prepare for uncertainty.’ It goes on to state that ‘success in 2030 will require automotive players to shift to a continuous process of anticipating new market trends, exploring alternatives and complements to the traditional business model, and exploring new mobility business models and their economic and consumer viability.’
If I was summing that paragraph up, I’d say more than anything, it highlights the need for new thinking. And often the starting point for new thinking is recruiting talented, questioning, forward-looking staff, and combining that with robust training and development programmes.
Our own research into the industry, and specifically how the capabilities of leaders and managers are developed, revealed some interesting insights – and highlighted the challenges around finding and developing the right talent.
During interviews with senior leaders in the industry, we asked about perceived threats to their business. The human resource issue was clearly front of mind for many of them:
“The battle for talent – particularly for technical roles”
“People – getting them and keeping them”
“Attracting the right people to the business and then retaining them”
In fact, senior leaders stated that this challenge is one of the biggest threats to the sector right now. This might then lead you to think that organisations would be focused on ensuring synergy between their talent and business strategies?
We found that’s not always the case, in fact, only half of those companies we interviewed believed these strategies were well aligned in their workplaces.
The balance of companies were concerned that there was no real connection between the two. Even in those instances where the talent strategy supported the business one, it was flagged that for many managers, the career pathway beyond line manager is often restricted.
Given the importance of recruiting, developing and retaining talented managers, we think it’s a concern that so many companies are not focusing on this alignment.
It’s clear that senior leaders are aware of the challenges to come, as they consider that the ability to lead change is one of the top three leadership capabilities their businesses require right now. And over half of line managers highlight the growth and development people as the number one skill they most need to develop, in order to help them become more effective managers.
Encouragingly, development activities within the industry seem to be high on the agenda, with most respondents being able to give us examples of planned and targeted management development activities.
When asked the crucial question about how bright young things can be attracted to the automotive sector, the most common response was to get more involved with schools, colleges and universities in a drive to change the perception of the sector.
Using social media to influence the views of potential employees was also considered important, and as most of the key brands have positive connotations with the public, some managers felt that a closer working relationship between the brands and the retailers would help to change negative perceptions of the sector.
Finally, apprenticeships were seen as significant in attracting new technical staff.
How does our research reflect the reality in your organisation? We’d love to hear your views.