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Let’s Call a Truce… in the War for Talent


Maybe it’s due to world events and too much news of conflicts among nations. Or maybe it’s due to my conflict-adverse nature. Whatever the cause, war-based analogies today hold far less appeal to me in general.  And specifically, I’m feeling compelled to wave the white flag and call a truce in the war for talent.

Recently I’ve read multiple articles that outline battle strategies or declare the war over altogether (and declaring talent the victor). Do we really want to characterize our efforts to attract and retain human beings within our enterprises in such a militaristic way?  Is it even valid imagery today? What if we focused less on the art of war… and more on the art of development?

It’s not news that there’s a wide spectrum of skills and abilities in today’s job market. Nor is it news that competition for the best, brightest and most capable potential employees exists.  Yet, for many organizations, what is news is that learning and development are among the most powerful tools available to make them optimally attractive employers.

Increasingly prospective employees across generational divides want to know what they can expect in terms of training, development, and opportunity. Crack that code and you’ve got an unbeatable recruiting strategy.

And as for existing employees, when they don’t see you making a learning and development investment in them, they are going to stop investing in you. If you can’t find ways to continually help others grow, you’re going to suffer the fate of watching them go.  Some will resign, leaving for other opportunities. And others (and this is the more dangerous scenario) will stay.  Their bodies will be there, but their hearts and minds will have left the building. The result is disengagement, lack of motivation, underutilized capacity, and sub-optimized effort.

An organization’s commitment to learning and developing is a key strategy for:

  • Retaining key talent;
  • Attracting the best possible new talent; and
  • Driving business results.

And – although this may sound bold – I believe it’s a key strategy for anyone interested in stabilizing our nation’s economy and ensuring a sustainable competitive advantage on the world stage.

What if we stopped characterizing all of this as a war?  What if we challenged ourselves to move beyond zero-sum-game thinking with winners and losers? What if we stopped fighting over talent and turned our attention to developing it instead?

We might just naturally keep more of the employees who are making a difference to the business.  But, even if they leave, other well-developed individuals would be ready to fill the void.

Perhaps it’s time to focus less attention on the competition, conflict and battles… and more attention on helping others grow. Perhaps in the process we’d see that a rising tide really does lift all boats. Perhaps it’s time to give peace (and development) a chance.

Image: © Sjenner13 | Dreamstime.comBusiness Couple Playing Tug Of War Photo


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