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Executive Stephen Bittel: Maintain Stability During Uncertain Times by Cultivating Talent Internally

In recent years, the workforce has been evolving with increasing rapidity.

Some of these changes were in many ways to be expected: demographics inevitably shift as one generation ages out of the workforce and another new one enters it, and technological advancements have been causing disruptions since the Industrial Revolution. Others, such as the changes that were accelerated and exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic like remote working and inflation, were unable to be anticipated.

From debates about the best form of hybrid working, to headlines heralding the “Great Resignation”, to “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing”, today the future of the workplace – and the workforce – seems cloudier than ever before. With so much uncertainty, how can leaders expect to maintain a thriving organization?

Publications have cycled through a number of catchy terms attempting to capture the current state of the workforce. First, there was “The Great Resignation,” followed by “The Great Reconfiguration” and then “The Great Re-evaluation.” More recently, “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing” have made the rounds in the press, describing the phenomenon of workers choosing to not go beyond meeting the minimum requirements of their job description, and employers’ failing to provide support that would encourage them to do otherwise.

A crucial difference between quiet quitting and quiet firing is that while the former is an intentional decision, the latter is often an unintentional case of neglect. According to Stephen Bittel, founder and chairman of the alternative investment firm Terranova Corporation, leaders of successful organizations are practitioners of “quiet hiring” – leveraging current employees' capabilities to acquire new skills by focusing on nurturing and promoting in-house talent.

Bittel’s Terranova is an institution in the South Florida commercial real estate sector. Since founding it over 40 years ago, Terranova has acted as the sole representative for commercial projects valued at over $5 billion, and currently owns and operates more than $1 billion in assets. Over the course of his career his company has weathered five recessions and numerous other shifts in the industry and society, and Bittel credits cultivating talent internally as a vital aspect of Terranova’s success.

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