Plugging the skills gap | Findings from the 2017 Vertical Salary Review

Our annual salary survey highlights significant salary increases across the industry, notably at the middle management and graduate level. We believe this is driven by the skills gap created by the last recession, when over 200,000 people left the industry and few entered it, leading to a missing generation of property and construction workers. Many salaries are now way beyond normal expectations but with this comes additional responsibility.

Plugging the gap has meant faster career progression for those entering the industry, post recession, with many young recruits now in senior or management roles. This has provided the best talent with excellent career prospects and opportunities but can also present its own challenges.

We explore three challenges we have observed with leadership expert, Caroline Dakin, who offers suggestions on how to overcome these:

Missing mentors
Graduates often rely on senior colleagues to share their experiences and guide them through their formative years, however, there is a gap in intermediate level mentors. Graduates are now reliant on more senior staff who are often in operational and management roles rather than delivery.

Company mentoring schemes work brilliantly in identifying suitable mentors, training them up and then partnering them with high potential individuals. However, if a company struggles to find enough internal mentors they should encourage employees to build their own networks and identify people outside the business to act as sounding boards. Or better still, encourage employees to set up their own mastermind groups, where employees from different businesses come together and share best practice. Secondments and opportunities to sit on external boards are also ideal ways to ensure people have exposure to experts within their field.

Developing leaders
We have seen a number of candidates enter management roles that would traditionally have been offered to those with more experience. Whilst these may offer excellent technical skills, they may not have yet developed the required leadership qualities and even the most talented people require training and support to manage and develop a team.

Companies should be wary of promoting people to leadership roles who don’t have the people skills and emotional intelligence to lead teams. Doing this will mean that you risk losing your A-players if they feel that have been managed poorly. Businesses should ensure that career paths are tailored to the individual; not everyone wants to manage people, however this is frequently the only way that people can advance with certain companies. Technical career paths should be offered, and people management should be reserved for those who have the desire and people skills to do it. Regardless of an individual’s willingness to manage people, they should always be offered training in basics such as giving feedback, conducting 1-2-1s and managing performance.

Imposter syndrome
Fast tracked career progression can lead to some staff suffering from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ where they doubt their ability to deliver the job they have been given or feel like they do not deserve that role. This can lead to them lacking in motivation and being wary of asking for support.

Managers should ensure that they give enough positive feedback to build the self-belief of their employees. Often, staff who suffer from imposter syndrome are just unsure if they are doing a good job or not. Regular feedback is often all that is needed to increase the confidence of fast tracked employees. This feedback should be more than just a ‘well done’, it should outline what specifically the employee has done well, what the positive effect was and how they can do more of this in future.

Read the full salary review, produced in association with Place North West, here