This one quote explains why “talent strategy” is a joke

Talent Strategy Is A Myth

I’ve been pretty vocal since I started writing this blog about how the whole concept of “talent strategy” — at least as upsold by executives — is kind of a farce. It all started when I got rejected for a gig ostensibly because of my hair in -23 degree weather, and then it continued as I started to realize the entire hiring process is a sale, people lie on both sides of the equation, and there’s no real tie between the idea of “learning” and the idea of “how to get a job.” In short, I’ve had a lot of come-to-Jesus moments on this blog — and sadly, here and there I’ve been criticized by my friends for them.

Every once in a while, I come across total bullshit articles that talk about “hiring with intention” — such as this thing — and I basically want to smash my laptop into 55 pieces. People don’t hire with intention. If they hired with intention, hiring wouldn’t come from HR. HR has been the wing of business “trying to get a seat at the table” for years. Decades, even. We’re in 2015 and still, very few organizations give a shit about HR. It’s a compliance/personnel function in the eyes of most senior leaders. (Not everywhere, but most places.) If we really cared about this whole concept of “talent strategy,” it would be managed elsewhere — either by department heads, marketing, sales, operations, etc. Housing it through HR essentially means you think it’s transactional and unnecessary. After all, your products and processes make you money, right? Not your people! That’s how most people think, honestly.

That’s all a long way of saying this: I came across an article on Forbes about the “Reinventing America Summit,” which was basically about some of the issues above — how education relates back to the workforce, how you find and keep the best people, etc. In short, these are issues that people really should be thinking about when they run a business. But are they? Here’s the money quote:

“How many of you spend months looking at your talent plan? Do you, every month, look at your financial plan? Of course. We’ve got to fundamentally think very selfishly and aggressively about how we manage our talent.”

That shit could not be more true.

You know how people generally hate meetings, right? I’ve worked at so many companies where top leaders/managers had a daily — every day! — 1-hour call to go over finances and projections and targets. That’s 5 hours+ (12 percent of your entire work week, basically) looking at numbers and trying to see how much you’re making. You know the funniest shit? Those guys loved that meeting. In every case and every company. They look forward to it. “We’re making money!” And even if you’re not, you can breathlessly analyze why you’re not making money — and then right the ship!

Point is, people are giddy to give up an hour of their day to talk about money and targeting, right? You think any of those guys has ever looked at some memo HR wrote about “talent planning?”

Probably not.

This shit matters. This other shit does not. That’s how it works.

But if you want a competitive advantage in the market — and it really is one, because so few people are doing it — take that quote to heart. Think selfishly and aggressively about how you manage your talent. Don’t believe me? Look at what separates “good” companies — i.e. places that people leave — from “great” companies — where they don’t.


Ted Bauer


  1. Agree 100%. However, what will drive change is not people voluntarily realizing this but being forced into it by market conditions. And that won’t happen for a long, long time.

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