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By: Tom Connolly, CEO, GattiHR
“Rarely has something been so important and so talked about with less and less clarity and understanding.” This is how General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, described the cyber-security knowledge gap. Another senior leader in the Defense Department, speaking on why cybersecurity and cyberwar was so important, could only define the issue as “all this cyber stuff.” Definitional confusion aside, between 2015 and 2020, spending on information security will grow from $75B to $170B, and most of that spending will be on people. Simply put, cybersecurity is a battle of wits. Organizations that recognize and tackle the inherent talent challenges of cyber will be dramatically better off, and that puts the responsibility squarely on HR leaders.
What’s Driving the Talent Shortage in Cyber?
It’s easy to blame the talent shortage in information security on an educational system that simply doesn’t produce enough STEM graduate or immigration policy that requires bright, newly-minted computer scientists to return to their home country, or even the extraordinary breadth of the cyber-discipline itself. The reality though, is that noeducational system can really keep up with the demand. Not since the invention of the modern accounting and legal professions has every organization in every sector of the economy been looking for the same core skill-set. When you look beyond the simple math of too many “black hats” and not enough “white hats,” there are more subtle reasons.
First, product complexity creates demand. The Space Shuttle needed just 40,000 lines of code to run efficiently (well, to run…). The typical BMW has more than 65 millionlines of code, which at one point made them the most stolen car anywhere, because cyber thieves figured out how to use the car’s own security system against itself. As software rapidly becomes an integral part of every product, demand for people who know about “this cyber stuff” increases with even greater speed.
Second, as everything becomes connected, everything takes on a cyber security dimension. It’s becoming more and more difficult to identify where the product or service design ends and the information security concerns begin. The Internet of Everything blurs the lines between the core operations of an organization and cyber, jobs that never had a cyber dimension now require cyber skills. Supply chain, medical devices and even HVAC systems designers are just a few of the areas where cybersecurity is suddenly an integral part of the skill set.
Third, the 2007 financial meltdown and the ensuing wave of regulation has driven a 40% increase in risk-management staff in the sector. Ensuring the security of personal information and the integrity of the financial system is driving demand for talented information security professionals.
Finally, the biggest challenge might be that the people who understand the issue best have only half the story. The development path of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) starts (and often ends) with deep technical grounding – perimeter defenses, surveillance technologies, threat identification, etc. However, cyber-threats are most often behavioral – manipulating individuals and organizations into helping the bad guys. Too often, incredibly talented CISOs build their careers on technical excellence, but they haven't had an opportunity to develop the behavioral side of the equation. Discussing information security issues in terms that other C-suite executives can relate to – terms like shareholder value, cost/value relationships and P&L impact – is also not a skill they’ve developed yet.
All of this combines to create a perfect storm in cyber security and an intriguing challenge for HR leaders. Cisco estimates there are currently more than 1M open cyber jobs globally, increasing to 6M openings by 2020. Symantec estimates that by 2020, 1.5M of these will simply go unfilled. With an estimated 200,000 open cyber-positions in the United States this year, HR leaders and the organizations they serve face a significant challenge, and that number is probably a low estimate.
Finding qualified candidates in market this tight is obviously hard. Finding the rightcandidate is vastly more difficult. In one recent senior-level search, more than 1,000 candidates were seriously evaluated and considered technically qualified. Of those 1,000, only 7 were fit-for-purpose, and they were spread across 3 continents!
The Bottom Line
The talent shortage in cyber-security is not just a supply/demand problem, and organizations are not going to solve it by just poaching each other’s people. Closing the gap will require a much more nuanced and thoughtful approach, using just about every tool HR leaders have available:
The talent shortage aside, it takes a village to keep an organization safe. The only completely safe option for any company is to close its doors. Short of that, well-conceived communications and training programs that create awareness without distraction, and information security without bureaucratic frustration are among the next best options.
By: Marcello Russo and Gabriele Morandin
The University of Bologna - Bologna Business School
PRAXI's ongoing research study with the Bologna Business School is mentioned in the original Italian article "Day 1: momento chiave per performance durature", published in the March 2017 edition of the Harvard Business Review Italia
Surfing the web, one can find many guides on how to approach the first day of a new job: the right attitude, what to say and not to say, the winning dress code that will make a good, solid first impression, etc. These articles focus almost exclusively on the new candidate. It is difficult to find any information pertaining to the other protagonists, like the company or even the new boss. This lack of attention to how companies manage an employee’s first day is a problem that can leave many companies poorly prepared for such an important day.
Why should a company plan the first day?
Before providing tips on how to plan "Day 1", it is necessary to clarify why this day even deserves serious thought. Management literature clearly shows that the initial period of a new hire sets the foundation for a successful collaboration. This requires the building of shared trust and the ability to understand and achieve expected performance levels in a timely fashion. Like all new relationships, a good start is fundamental for it to be long lasting and mutually beneficial.
Failing to manage this process could mean significant costs as companies watch new recruits walk out the door. New employees demonstrate a strong desire to feel immediately welcomed and guided upon entering a new firm, and they are often not afraid to change their minds if not fully satisfied by the “honeymoon period”!
What is the manager’s role?
Managers are the key to this process as they represent the first point of contact between a new employee and the company. The manager’s actions can greatly affect the self-esteem and productivity of an employee, especially the youngest team members. It is critical for managers to be aware of this and give due attention to "Day 1" by planning the agenda in advance and scheduling time with the new hire in their busy schedules. The employee should be receive a warm welcome during the first few hours, in order to clarify any doubts that he or she may have about the new job. This is also an excellent opportunity to clarify the company’s expectations of the employee as well.
What is HR’s role?
The HR Director is also pivotal in this process, although the exact role is still unclear. Referring to the widely used job titles found in HR functions, such as "hiring manager" or "director of recruitment", they implicitly suggest that HR’s work ends once a candidate is hired. What to do? First, HR has the opportunity to sponsor and emphasize the importance of the company’s on-boarding process. As drivers of employee integration and social inclusion, they can help ensure a positive start for the new employee and his/her colleagues and manager.
Clearly, the opportunity to influence a new employee extends beyond Day 1, for example to the third month, when the introduction phase nears completion, or in the ninth month, when the newcomer effectively becomes a “true” employee. For mass hires – such as for those organizations that take on hundreds of people a year – it is possible to monitor the integration rates using appropriate research.
Interestingly, an active research study is underway between the management consulting firm Praxi and the University of Bologna, including the authors of this article. The study aims to monitor the effectiveness of the new employee integration process at client companies for all of the candidates placed by Praxi in 2017. The companies involved have appreciated the service as well as the mark of distinction.
Positive and negative examples
Forget about large investments and special arrangements. To make an employee’s first day enjoyable requires two basic elements: time and attention. New employees need time to meet team members and time to learn the tasks to be completed, the company’s active projects and mutual expectations. This could mean chatting over breakfast or lunch, a worthwhile investment to promote a peaceful entry. Given the understandable timidity of a new hire who is probably afraid to say and/or do something wrong, it is up to the manager to break the ice and try to put the new employee at ease.
In an interesting piece on the importance of social relationships within a company, Dutton (2003) cites the experience of a new employee in a Wall Street firm, who claimed to be shocked by the amount of information that his new boss knew about each of her employees. In just one week, the boss had quickly figured out his interests, details about his family and even his favorite dish. The manager had found out all of this information about her employees by asking questions that showed a genuine interest in each employee as a unique and important individual.
At a prestigious American university, a study conducted on two groups of students completing an MBA in trade negotiations revealed insights on the importance of knowing each other well. The results showed that the group that had been instructed to learn more about each other prior to the start of negotiations was more satisfied and achieved better outcomes compared with the group told to focus exclusively on business.
Contrary to the cases described above, the Wall Street Journal wrote about a worker who had found a complete lack of attention and interest on the part of his boss. The employee complained that his boss had been extremely superficial, showing him to his new office and then leaving without providing any information on what to do, not even introducing new colleagues or inviting him to tour the office. His frustration was heightened later during a business meeting when a senior manager pointed at him, exclaiming: "Who’s this? I don’t know him and that’s not good. Someone "try" and fill me in! "(Source: Wall Street Journal)
As shown by these examples, a tour of the company and its various offices is another important step to take on a new employee’s first day because it gives the newcomer an overview of the company and a chance to meet colleagues and managers in other business areas. If well managed, this step can give the employee a sense of ownership and promote rapid integration. A company tour can also reinforce the manager’s own sense of belonging and pride in being part of the organization. You would probably agree that it makes you feel proud to give guests a tour of your house and receive compliments.
Conclusions and prelude
The actions and examples discussed are relevant because all new employees ask themselves, at times unconsciously, three questions: "What is my place here? Am I the right person for this organization? Is this the right organization for me?” The answers to these questions will help determine not only the degree of integration, but also the future job performance and turnover rates.
A warm welcome, a proper orientation and discovery of the places where organizational life takes place, are more than just good deeds, they evidently play a strategic role. From this point of view, they represent key ingredients of organizational success.
We must not forget that the first day of a new job is a prelude to a stage in life that can last for years or even decades. A popular Italian saying states that "getting off on the right foot is half the battle." Perhaps not the hippest expression, but regarding the orientation process, it really hits the mark.