Long flight last night out to Vegas and to pass the time (and I needed to since this flight was not equipped with Satellite TV and thus I was not able to watch the NBA playoffs), I was multi-tasking with Jason Bourne on the screen and the SI.com Media Podcast in the ear.
On the podcast host Richard Deitsch asked guest James Andrew Miller (author of books on ESPN, CAA, and Saturday Night Live), about an ongoing negotiation between cable sports channel Fox Sports 1 and personality Katie Nolan. When discussing how Fox Sports 1 might look to retail Nolan (who apparently will have other options), Miller said something really, really interesting. Check this out...
Miller: She is a real talent. I think she knows it. I think Fox Sports 1 knows it. And so I would expect if she does stay, they will have to come up with not only something that is more than what she is doing now, they will have to come up with more money, and so it is probably one of those things where she tests the marketplace.
But this whole idea about testing the marketplace isn't just about dollars sometimes, it's about other opportunities. She might not know what she wants to do yet. She might not even know what she can do elsewhere.
Fox Sports 1 has to realize that this is all about creating a narrative for talent, this is about saying, "Look we want to remain your home, and this is what we can put together for you", and then maybe you even have to go beyond that and start to look more broadly about what they can do in their larger Murdoch empire.
On the pod Deitsch and Miller went on to debate Nolan's ratings, other shows, and other things, but the important thing to me, and the part of the conversation I replayed three or four times was Miller's concept of creating the 'narrative for talent.' Leave it to a writer to come up with such an elegant and evocative description of a standard employee compensation/development/retention conversation.
Think about what a 'narrative' implies. A story. A beginning, a middle, maybe some twists and turns. Maybe some conflict or challenges. Maybe a hero on some kind of a journey. Maybe a fantastic and delightful surprise. And then, hopefully, a happy ending.
A 'narrative' just seems cool, fun, compelling, interesting.
It makes you want to listen. It makes you want to learn more. It makes you want to keep turning the page.
A comp discussion? Where you talk about ranges and midpoints? Or a review of goal completion? Where you debate whether or not a goal was 25% or 35% complete? Or a look at next quarter's corporate university training offerings to look for some development opportunities? Ugh.
Those all seem dull. Rote. Required even by the HR police.
None of those really want to make a talented person want to hear more of your story.
So that's what I thought was interesting about Miller's way of describing the way that a company needs to approach a conversation with a talented employee that might be on the verge of something big, but also has a ton of options.
It's all about creating a narrative.