Steve Cadigan, cofundador d’ISDI als EUA
Steve Cadigan, cofundador d’ISDI als EUA

"We have to learn to feel comfortable with change"

Talent specialist Steve Cadigan, former vice president of LinkedIn and cofounder of ISDI in the United States, analyses the changes digital transformation means for the world of work

Initially Steve Cadigan (@scadigan) was all about finding talent. However, Cadigan now has a new mission: creating it. With more than 25 years experience in the field of human resources, the former vice president of HR at LinkedIn has witnessed the change of paradigm that the digital environment is generating in models of leadership and in how companies manage talent.

How has digitalisation affected the job market?

We have always had periods in which new technology, innovation and new ideas change the job market, that is nothing new. What is new is the pace of this transformation, and it seems as if it is speeding up. Technology is changing faster than our capacity to understand it and gain the abilities we need to apply it. This inability to keep pace causes a lot of frustration among workers. It is true that the job market is changing, but not so much, because people continue to spend money as they have always done. Where and how we spend our money is what is causing businesses to change. A lot of businesses have to move on to the internet to reach their clients, because today their clients are online. Power today is with companies, who have learnt that they have to be wherever the client spends his or her time.

Like Amazon, for example?

It is an example in the retail sector. At the same time that Amazon grows, large companies are closing down. Retailers have to understand that customers no longer go to the shop, that they have to go out and find them elsewhere. And that place is the Internet.

And what is happening with small companies and traditional businesses?

Small companies have an advantage because they do not have so much staff and technology to adapt. All they have to decide is whether they are ready to make the change and build a plan: where they are, where they want to be and what they have to change.

"Power today is with the companies that have learnt they need to be where the client spends his or her time"

People are scared that robots will take away their jobs. How do you think robots and Artificial Intelligence will change the world of work?

Let’s take a sector that has changed because of technology, such as travel. Before, you called an agency and they found you a plane and a hotel, and sent you the tickets by post. With the Internet, travel agents have just about disappeared. But at the same time, companies like TripAdvisor or Expedia have appeared, hundreds of new jobs appeared thanks to a new way of planning trips. You have to look at it like that. We do not know how many jobs will be replaced or what we will do, but we have to trust there will be new ones. That raises another question. If we do not know what is coming, how can we prepare for it?

And the answer is...

Before thinking about teaching people new abilities, what we have to teach people is to feel comfortable with change, to be adaptable and agile. We will need workers who feel comfortable moving in different fields and who can adapt to this new world. That is already happening in schools, where people are being trained who are capable of learning with technology, working in groups, or alone, and that helps a lot.

What characteristics do the leaders of the future need to help people take on these changes?

In a world with a lot of information and change, leaders, executives, have to understand that they will not have the same level of control as before. It is impossible. They will have to guide the information, link people with ideas rather than supplying it themselves. And they will have to manage the work in real time, checking whether it works in the moment and if not, moving on to the next thing. I always say that the leaders will have to be “listeners”, that they will have to have a stragegy of listening. Today’s world is very transparent, and as a leader, an employee can be talking about you on the Internet, in a comment. That is why leaders have to know how to create good experiences for their people and then they will explain that it is worth working at the company. Your reputation, what people think of you, will be what defines your success. That means the best thing is to have a good relationship with your people.

Are the millennials prepared to be the future leaders?

They are prepared for the future, it is we who are not prepared for the millennials. A challenge I see wherever I go is that of digital transformation and the millenials, and it is all connected. They have to learn a lot, but this generation is very different from the baby boomers and today’s leaders, they are very influenced by technology and they are used to having everything they want right away: a game, buying something, whatever it might be. They have a consumerist mentality and they will bring this to leadership.

"Your reputation, what people think of you, will be what defines your success"

What promotes innovation first, investment or talent?

People always come first. To create value with people you need a business culture that goes with your company, which is competitive for your business. It is no good copying Google just because it is the best company in the world. Everyone has to think what is good for their company. And people with talent will want to work there.

You have spoken about the characteristics of leaders and companies, but how can employees show off their talent?

First of all, with a good LinkedIn profile. But more than just a traditional CV, what works best is a short documentary about ourselves. If we want to do something different and stand out in our area, we should ask a friend to film us doing what we do, so that people can see how good we are at doing it. In the same way, companies will not publish job ads but will make trailers showing off the company, and that will bring the talent in.

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