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    Entries in talent (58)


    VIDEO: Rebranding Diversity

    We love, love the employee referral as a source of finding that next great hire.

    We've heard the reasons a million times why referrals are such a great source of new talent.  Namely that existing employees are the ones that truly understand the culture and the work, so they are able to know who in their networks would be a fit. The people they are referring in to the company are usually friends or close business acquaintances, and the employee will want them to succeed and as such, will make more careful referral decisions. Finally, the referrals themselves and how they perform if hired, are a reflection on the judgement of the referring employee, again underscoring the motivation of the employee to make good referrals.

    All solid, probably valid reasons. The sometimes considered downside of relying too heavily on the employee referral source? That the organization continues to bring in people too similar to the people it already has in place. That a kind of circular process of hiring people from the same backgrounds, locations, or general sets of experiences takes hold, since, it is often thought, existing employees tend to refer in people that are kind of like themselves. They think, logically I suppose, 'I'm doing pretty well here, and Joe Boggs is just like me, so I be he'll succeed here too.'

    While that kind of potential detrimental effect of too-heavy a reliance on referral programs is commonly explained or rationalized away by statements like, 'Our employee population is very diverse, as long as we are sourcing referrals from a large cross-section of staff, we will not have a problem at all', still it seems like the kind of potential negative effect that can end up causing real, long-term problems for firms, and even entire industries.

    But don't take my word for it, spend some time this weekend watching the video below, (email and RSS subscribes click through), titled 'Rebranding Diversity: Colorblind Racism Inside the U.S. Advertising Industry', a presentation overview of the doctoral dissertation of Christopher Boulton. 

    Doctoral Defense from Christopher Boulton on Vimeo.


    In the video, Boulton examined the perceived and observed lack of diversity at the executive levels of the U.S. Ad industry, offers some recommendations for the industry to begin to make the kinds of changes needed to address this problem. Chief among Boulton's recommendations is to significantly reduce the importance and use of various employee referral schemes that have, over time, continued to foster a climate that lacks diversity, particularly in the managerial and executive ranks.

    Certainly the use of employee referral schemes was not the sole reason for Boulton's overall findings, but these programs, and how they were administered were definitely a contributing factors. The study presents a good reminder that even the best-intentioned plans can sometimes have negative consequences, and that we need to regularly validate our gut feelings with some solid data.

    Have a Great Weekend!


    French fried and who takes the heat when you reach for talent

    Last night I stayed up way too late for a tired body still recovering from #SHRM12 to watch the NBA 2012 player draft up until the point where my beloved New York Knicks made their one and only selection, with the 48th overall pick.

    And in classic Knick fashion, they managed to enrage the small but vocal contingent of fans on hand at the draft, as well as a fair number of active fans in the Twitterverse, with the selection of the mostly unknown Kostas Papanikolaou, from Greece, whose main claim to fame, (aside from being short an 'e' from having every vowel in his last name), was ONE good game in the recent Euroleague finals.  Immediately after the selection of Papanikolaou, and amid the fans' shouts of 'Who the heck is that?', some of the commentators on the draft broadcast talked about the Greek's game, and that he has potential, some good skills, needs some further development, yadda-yadda-yadda. Truth is, hardly anyone knows anything about this player and his game, and whether or not he will become a productive NBA player someday is anyone's guess. The dunk of death

    As a Knicks fan, the draft always brings back memories of the 1999 draft, where the Knicks selecting with the 15th overall pick in the event, selected a similarly unknown, (but admittedly with a better body of work to that point), Fredric Weis, a 7'2" center from the basketball hotbed of France. Long story short, Weis never played in the NBA, and despite having a decent career in a few European leagues and representing France is several international competitions, is really only remembered for one thing - being jumped over and dunked upon by NBA star Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics, in a play known as "Le dunk de la mort'', ('The dunk of death'). 

    As I mentioned, Weis never made it to the NBA, and certainly it will take a few years to know if Papanikolaou will meet the same fate. There are just too many variables, and a long history of guys you've never heard of before, (Nowitzki, Ginobili, Sackett), having fantastic careers to completely discount the Greek's chances. 

    But here is the interesting thing for the talent evaluator and professional in these kinds of 'reach' scenarios - if Weis would have turned out to be a star, or even a solid, reliable contributor on the NBA level, a ton of the credit would have gone to the person(s) gutsy enough to risk their professional reputation and jobs and pick an unknown guy out of France over a more established player from a US college that the fans and public would have at least known about. The risk, at least a disproportionate amount of selecting an unknown quantity, from a talent pool not known for producing great hires, who you have to explain for half an hour just exactly who he is, is almost all on the talent pro.

    If a guy like Weis, and Papanikolaou as well, ends up as a success, most of the accolades and credit will go to them. If they fail, it isn't really their fault, no one expects unknowns from Europe to become big NBA stars, (less so today, certainly that was the case in 1999). 

    The safe bet of course, for the NBA talent evaluator, and for you the corporate talent pro, is to make the 'safe' pick, choose the talent from a known source, one that your fans, colleagues, and hiring managers recognize. Make the 'defensible' choice. 

    Because if the the blue-chip guy from the Big 10 school that has been on TV 47 time in the last 3 years fails - well then that's the player's fault, not yours.

    If you as a talent pro reach for a guy like Weis and he fails?

    Well that's your fault. And that's no fun.

    Have a Great Weekend!


    WEBINAR : Talent, Succession, and Zombie Identification

    A quick plug for my colleagues over at Fistful of Talent who next week, Wednesday June 20 at 1:00PM EDT, will be running the latest installment of their fun, informative, and popular webinar series, this time with what promises to be a fresh, innovative, and probably not at all like you are used to approach to succession planning and talent reviews. You know as an HR or Talent profession you secretly love talent reviews and succession planning. You do.


    Because you love judging people. I mean, don't we all? You're reading this and judging me right now. If you are still reading this, I guess I made it past the latest in what naturally is an almost constant evaluation of where I fall on continuum running from 'What an idiot' to 'Genius! I need to show this article to my CEO'.

    If judging people isn't the nation's second favorite pastime, (football is still number one), then how do you explain, variously, the success of American Idol, America's Got Talent, The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, and the 73 other competition/reality shows out there? And don't get me started on the internal monologue running in your brain when you go to the mall, the airport, or that pinnacle of judgmental snarkiness, the county fair.

    But back to the point, and I remember there being one. As a talent professional perhaps the single most important job you have is making sure the organization has the talent it needs, in the roles where they are most likely to succeed and have some kind of affinity for, (or at least be good at), and demonstrate a readiness in organizational capability to adapt to (among other things), new business strategies, changing external conditions, and lastly and more commonly, people just being people and doing things like resigning unexpectedly, flaking out on an overseas business trip, or getting a too-good-to-pass-up and too-rich-for-you-to-match offer from ACME Corp. down the road. 

    So how as a busy with a million other things HR and Talent pro begin to get a handle on the 'sound boring but are really important' processes of Succession Planning and the mechanism that drives much of the Succession Planning process, the Talent Review?

    Well, that is what the FOT webinar is all about. Check the details below:

    Halogen Software is bringing in the team at Fistful of Talent for a quick, street smart webinar, Wednesday June 20 at 1:00PM EDT, on how to bootstrap a talent review and get started with Succession Planning.  Attend Zombies, Grinders and Superstars:  The FOT Talent/Succession Review” to get the following goodies:

    How what you do with performance management at your company is directly related to how you approach talent reviews and succession

    • Why corporate values don’t belong anywhere near your performance management system
    • How items called “potential factors” add flavor to your approach to performance/talent/succession, and how to create potential factors for your company to use in the talent review
    • How to use the talent review process to calibrate performance ratings across your company, box in managers who are soft on performance and create a greater sense of pay for performance in your organization
    • An outline and best practice notes on how to run a talent review meeting, with formats that differ for your company’s Leadership Team, a division/departmental group, or a high potential employee program.      

    This webinar comes with the Fistful of Talent guarantee:  60% of the time it works every time.  Join the FOT crew as they tell the truth and cut through the smoke and mirrors related to Talent Reviews as a part of your succession program.

    Got it?

    Seriously, I always have learn something new on the FOT webinars, and even if you think you have the Succession/Talent thing down cold, it is worth your time to dial-in and help make fun of Sackett.


    More on the Talent-Strategy-Culture triangle

    A few weeks ago I posted about the ongoing discussions on the relative importance of three distinct, but interrelated aspects of organizations (Talent/Strategy/Culture) that combine to define, set the direction, and ultimately determine the success or failure of the enterprise. In that piece, I proposed it might be that Talent, or perhaps worded differently, people capability, might actually trump both Culture and Strategy as being the primary determinant or most accurate predictor of ongoing success.Throw it to Jordan on the block

    The theory, (it probably actually doesn't deserve to labelled a 'theory', perhaps 'notion' is a better term), is that without the raw talent, the right people with the right skills in place, that even the best company cultures can't progress from being 'fun' or 'happy' into truly successful, and also that the sharpest most on-point business strategies can't be executed.  Why I think I like this idea so much is due all the time I spend watching sports, specifically the NBA, where perhaps more so than many other team sports, sheer talent more often than not plays a disproportionate role in driving wins and championships.

    In the NBA, teams that win titles almost always have one (or more), of the league's most talented players, the kinds of players that can essentially take over in close games, can rally the team by setting an example for effort and dedication, and help to make the other players around them better, by virtue of their sheer ability. Essentially to win in the NBA, you need superior talent. It doesn't mean you will win of course, (see Heat, Miami - 2011 NBA Finals), but without it, the best team spirit, (culture), and coaching, (strategy), will only take you as far as the talent can carry you.

    While culture is critical, and strategy is essential, having the talent makes it all work, makes the culture rise to more than a 'oh look how cure, there's a foosball table in the break room', and elevates the strategy from just words on a PowerPoint or a tagline on a website.  

    So how do you go about landing that essential, superstar talent you need? Dang, that's a problem.

    Well, having a fantastic company culture helps. Great talent wants to be in a place that they feel will challenge them, where they sense a greater purpose, and can learn from and engage with great colleagues. And it really helps to actually be a successful company already, or to have a story, (a strategy even), that resonates and can be envisioned, and that great talent can see themselves as a part of. Yep, it is kind of hard to attract and retain great talent without a great culture and a winning strategy.

    Which I think is the reason why all these Culture vs. Strategy vs. Talent type arguments persist, because no matter what position on the triangle you take you are right.

    And also wrong.



    If culture eats strategy, then what eats culture?

    I still play Rock-Paper-Scissors.

    For a simple game, it is incredibly nuanced and complex. Like all good games, there is no sure way to win, and no sure way to lose. Some day I hope to hone my skills to the point where I can compete for big bucks on the R-P-S circuit.

    Why mention Rock-Paper-Scissors? Choose wisely

    It came to mind from thinking about two things - one, another run around the park for the popular 'Culture Eats Strategy' meme, (ok, it is not really a meme, I just couldn't think of a better word. Sorry.). This line of thought posits that without the 'right' or 'good' or 'well managed' company culture, that it does not really matter much what the business strategies are, that decreased or lacking employee engagement levels caused by that poor culture will effectively short-circuit and lead to failure even the best, most intelligent strategies. It makes plenty of sense, is fairly hard to argue against, and tends to play to the part of us that simply likes to believe if we create great places to work, great experiences, and happy/engaged/satisfied employees that everything else might just fall into place.

    But like the Rock-Paper-Scissors game, that is non-linear, and where any choice you make can potentially be trumped by another choice, is it possible that while Culture may eat Strategy, that there might be something out there that might eat Culture?

    How about Talent?

    A few days ago mega fast food franchise company Yum! Brands, (think, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell), announced its latest quarterly earnings, and one of the highlights was the company's strong growth and performance in China, with an expansion of locations and same-store sales up 21% on the quarter. On the quarterly earnings call, Yum! CEO David Novak was asked about the company's successes in the often difficult to crack Chinese market, and his explanation of the reasons behind this excellent performance curiously did not attribute it at least primarily to some kind of superior business strategy, or wonderful organizational culture. No, he talked about Talent. From the transcript of the earnings call:

    I think our whole formula for success in China has been geared on great local management team with phenomenal local operating capability. And we've always had one rule, we never want to expand any further than or faster than our people capability.

    But we're like the Procter and Gambles, the king of marketing talent in the United States. We see ourselves as the leader in operating talent in China. The second big thing on people capability is just our development operations. Our development team -- we have 700 people in our development team. And we have the best retail management base in China. This is a huge competitive advantage as we go forward. 

    Let that sink in a minute. People capability. The leader in operating talent. The main reason Yum! is winning in China.

    Later in the discussion Novak does talk about the importance of flagship locations, and arriving first to local markets, both clearly business strategy type decisions, but the overall emphasis and the main reason for success and ongoing competitive advantage is finding, developing, and pipelining great local managerial talent.

    Talent. Not culture, not strategy, not some innovative marketing or social media outreach.

    It is a very interesting take, and I'd recommend reading the full transcript of the earnings call, (come on, you have time, lay off Facebook for ten minutes).

    What do you think - if culture eats strategy, could it be that talent eats them both?

    Have a great weekend!