The List: Provocative Ideas for Talent Management

In point of fact, we are no strangers to tough talent issues having survived many of the business challenges of the last several decades.  But balencing the demands of the business with a ready flexible pool of talent given the demographic changes, will require an increasingly sophisticated set of solutions that many companies have not yet considered much less developed.  Over my travels this past year, I’ve developed my “list” of talent trends. My hope is that there is a nice balence of ‘near in’ with a fair bit of ‘stretch’ to challenge thinking.   So here are a few of the ideas on my list:

  • Mindset . . .ways of creating or shaping new ways to see the world.   From a talent perspective, I see organizations changing the way they think about ‘who’ is their talent, where is their talent, and how they engage or deploy the talent for maximum flexibility.  Infosys, a hot Indian engineering firm, is reverse hiring talent by setting up shop in the US with a new Global Talent Management Program.  What’s different?  Certainly not the job level or the pay . . . the point of difference is the way they are establishing a global mindset with their new hires.  And programs like Your Encore have certainly changed our mindset about the who, how, and where of our talent pipeline.  The point here is not that traditional organizations are going away, but that they will need to reinvent themselves to participate fully in a networked world.  This is about creating a permable menbrane around the organization, increasing flexibity and agility.   In the end, my favorite examples come the Manpower ads on You Tube . . .they will most certainly challenge your mindset about talent.  Have you seen them?
  • Cultural Consciousness . . . the concept of organizational culture is not new, but being conscious about developing, shaping, and communicating culture is taking on a new significance from a talent point of view.  Business Week recently reported on a survey of 43,000 US college students asking them to name their ideal employer.  Ernst and Young jumped up to #4 on a ranking of 220 ccompanies.  Their rise was specifically aided by social networking.  In fact, they are branding themselves with ‘social networking.’  They purposefully do not use Facebook to post jobs or look at profiles, they use it as a way to inform — their values, what they have to offer, and to answer questions.  Vlogs, designed by interns, are designed to illustrate what it’s like to ‘work here.’  Not everyone wants to work at E & Y, but for those who do, creating cultural transparency through social networking can increase the probability of finding, selecting and keeping talent . . .the talent right for them.  
  • Creating Relevance . . . tapping into what is pertinenet or applicable from a talent perspective.  As global talent needs have increased , even governments are starting to address the issue.  So let me confirm what we’ve always know . . . despite globalization, location still matters.  Local communities and even countries have strategically developed distinctive advantages from a talent perspective.  Stockholm is focused on succeeding in the knowledge economy by attracting talent with highly valued skills using a vibrant urban environment.  Singapore is focused persuading multi-nationals to establish a base or regional headquarters with generous tax breaks and affordable land.  Anticipating industry needs, they are proactively establishing policies so that they can rapidly respond . . . including equal employment guidelines.  Frankly some of the best work in creating relevance comes in the form of benefits and workplace policies.  In an effort to attract their target talent demographic, people 45 and older, Border’s offers a  ‘passport’ program which allows employees to work in multiple geographic locations.  Think warm winters in the south and cooler summers in the north  . . .what’s not to like?
  • Open Source . . . Mass collaboration has become a disruptive force that has created new possibilities in every sector.  New social networking tools have changed the very nature of what work is in a 2.0 world.  For me the interesting question here is what does open source mean for leadership.  Gary Hamel in his book, The Future of Management, challenges us to innovate our management models . . . creating new ways to  mobilize talent, allocate resources, and build strategies.  Mozilla, a non-profit software development firm has created a new type of management mantra.  Open source management means: 
    • It’s all about getting community buy-in
    • Volunteers are willing to do more than you think . . . just ask
    • Managers are more powerful when they follow
    • Innovative things happen when you nurture renegades
    • Blend . . . open source is powerful when paired with conventinal approaches
    • Think globally. . . your talent certainly does
    • Listen . . . very carefully. . .and always
  • Social Learning . . . increasingly learning happens through others.  It’s multi-threaded, searchable, physical or virtual, collaborative and personalized to each learner’s role in a specific context.  Social networks are certainly not new, but technology has accelerated their importance and impact on a variety of talent processes — development being one.  But how do you do that on a global basis.  Triple Creek offers a networking application that is being used by a number of companies.  Instead of matching individuals based on personal preferences, they are connecting people based on job skills, leadership qualities or the experienes they want to gain.  In my mind, this puts the responsibility for developing and maintaining the relationship where it belongs . . in the hands of the mentor and mentee.  Many of us are familiar with Second Life, which has developed an interesting business model selling virtual property.  Some companies are using Second Life as collaboration hubs for employees and alumni, places to create ‘cross-border’ networks in a 2.0 world, and virtual learning classrooms.  Going one step further, Sun Microsystems, Inc. has developed its own software and simulated building that even allows employees to walk through the hallway for a ‘water cooler chat’ in a 2.0 workspace. 
  • Sustainability . . . I want to end the list with a conversation about sustainability . . . the ability to provide the best outcomes for humans and the organization now and in the future.  Issues of sustainability are everywhere — even in talent processes.  HIP Investor helps organizations realize that human impact and profitatility are simultaneously important with a very procative scorecard approach.  My favorite example of sustainability is one that my son David brought to my attention — Patagonia.   As trendy as they may seem, they have been at this sustainability issue for a long time . . .it permeates their very approach to the business, their management mantra, and even the way they attract, develop, and engage their talent.  As their CEO and Founder says, “Most people want to do good things, but don’t.  At Patagonia, it’s an essential part of your life.”

Now that you’ve heard what on my mind, let me invite you to share your thoughts.  What resonated with you?  What other trends have you been watching?  What examples would you like to share?

08/25/08 Update: Creating Cultural Transparency

A colleague just sent sent me a link to a very interesting website . . . Jiibe is designed to help people find corporate cultures that fit their values and style of work.   How do they do that?  They use an on-line assessment, user-driven content and social networking to help people find good cultural matches.  Check it out!


2 Responses

  1. Pls,
    could you have a look to this book?
    thanks Carrella

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