Well, it’s been almost 18 months since my last post. A lot has happened. I’ve spent most of that time in proof of concept for a new business that leverages two key business megatrends. I’ve talked to countless C-level and Human Capital leaders and hear a very consistent frustration – they cannot economically find and retain the talent necessary to achieve their short and long-term business success. Hence, this complex, yet energizing talent problem has been my major focus for the last year and a half. This business challenge also formed the motivation for the new and exciting journey on which I am about to embark.

First, businesses are struggling to find and keep the skilled talent and leaders they need to meet their business goals (over 3 million viable jobs currently aren’t getting filled). The talent exists, it’s just not readily available. A full 85% of the qualified talent for any given opening is passive, that is, those “candidates” are not looking for those opportunities. They are working hard and successfully for someone else. Plus, organizations are being squeezed by financial pressure to do more with less, meaning less full-time headcount is being approved to get the work done. In response, more and more of the “work” of organizations is being done by someone other than organization’s full-time people. In fact, by the end of this decade, it is being projected that less than 50% of an organization’s work will be done by full-time employees.

Secondly, baby boomers are moving through their eligible retirement “windows” very differently than previous cohort groups. For various legitimate reasons, they are not going “cold turkey” into retirement as their predecessors. They need (financial) and want to keep their hand in regarding work. Further, when they leave the full-time workforce, they take enormous intellectual property and capital with them that could be very useful to their and countless other businesses. Add that to the reality that many highly talented people are looking for a viable alternative to the bureaucratic corporate grind (see the Harvard Business Review May 2012 article on “The Rise of the Executive Super Temp”). In many cases, an organization’s most talented people are the most “at risk” of leaving if not fully engaged and appreciated.

Therefore, the time has come to perfect a new “win-win” business model regarding how to leverage talent for competitive advantage. I envision a new Talent Paradigm where organizations can successfully leverage talent that does not exist on their full-time rosters in what the late management guru, Peter Drucker, called “Intellectual Capital on Demand”. This business model allows organizations to have specific talent they desperately need and only when they need it. This new talent mindset provides a very cost-effective approach to achieving organizational success with “just in time” and lean principles that will help progressive organizations to win in their marketplaces.

This model also provides a unique value proposition for the talented people mentioned above. These “talent experts” with great, proven skills and experience are able to pick and choose great work and how to leverage their talent. It allows them to balance their need and desire to provide high impact value and do meaningful and fulfilling work while better balancing their life priorities more effectively. It also provides a wealth of great work experiences with great companies to hone their already formidable skills.

Stay tuned – A new and powerful “Talent Partner” is about to burst on the scene for progressive organizations with the vision to finding a better way to leverage world class talent.


“Create a great place where great people can do great work.”

That was how my best boss ever, Fred Rockwood, described how he saw his job as CEO during my interview to join his company back in 1987. Needless to say, as an HR leader, I was hooked. I knew with a leader like this, I would have an advocate for all my talent management initiatives. He turned out to be a dynamic and thoughtful leader always mindful of his role in facilitating a great culture and always open to ways of making it even better. He knew intuitively if he created the workplace he had articulated, the business would be wildly successful. And it was. Great people did amazing things in that company to scale our business successfully.

So simple was this concept, but implementation, which is always harder, was made easier by the clarity of his cultural vision. He kept saying it and acting upon it, so we all knew it real. It made it easier to recruit great people who only wanted to unleash their human capital in doing challenging and meaningful work in such an environment.

Now, we were not curing world hunger at the time. Our new company was selling and supporting funeral planning insurance!! We were in the funeral business. Please no jokes, I’ver heard all of them. This was not too many people’s ideal calling to say the least. However, we found and attracted great people nonetheless because our culture was infectious and compelling. There was genuine energy and passion to bring future business to our clients, the funeral homes, and genuine peace of mind to their clients, those planning their funeral ahead of the need. Fred was always painting and communicating word pictures of our company’s future. It always included the priority of us being a great place to work and being a place to grow your career. And, his actions and those of us on his team, worked consistently to bring that vision to reality.

This is not to say we didn’t have the normal growing pains or siloed thinking that distracted us from our goals from time to time. However, the mandate and momentum of that simple cultural vision kept corporate politics and self-interest to a minimum and allowed us to flourish and achieve some incredible results. Whenever we would swerve off our course because of politics or other distractions , Fred would bring us back to the simplicity of our vision. It made life as the HR leader much less challenging that it could have been.

I know now I was blessed to see true and engaging leadership in action during that thirteen year period of my work life. I have taken away and implemented many, many leadership lessons that Fred Rockwood taught me. He truly valued and cared for his people and his actions showed it consistently. It caused everyone to work a little harder in striving to achieve the best for the company but also for the best that was within them. When a leader can facilitate that type of energy, that type of genuine culture, the company can and will achieve great results, and truly enjoy the journey. Everyone wins: the employees, the company, the shareholders and the clients. All from an elegantly simple but powerful cultural vision consistently applied.

Our culture also allowed for We were excited to bring our clients al So attracting people into that business required be unleashed upon the business challenges

“The thing happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

~Frank Lloyd Wright

I really believe this is very true for leaders. What we think about and dwell upon in our leadership roles will come to pass, with the proper actions to get us there.

In my experience, it does require us to act upon our most fundamental and strongest beliefs which should be the natural extension of those beliefs. We should have the most passion and energy to actualize and operationalize those beliefs we hold most important. It helps align us physically with what is going on in our head. Too often, we let our greatest desires for the direction of our organizations go unfulfilled because we fail to make the time or commitment to actually move them into existence in our real world. We expect something to miraculously happen without the required actions to bring these beliefs to life.

As leaders, we must be intentional. Everything we do or don’t do says everything about us. Do our actions align with our true thoughts and the words we say? This is the essence of integrity: when what we think and say and do in concert with our fundamental leadership beliefs. When we do, we are aligned. We know it and those around us, our peers and our people know it. But, it takes intention and persistence application to run this course. But, whether we are a CEO of a multi-national organization, a front-line leader or an entreprenuer, the beliefs we want most to convey, start inside us. They grow as our belief in them grow and manifest in our words and, more importantly in our actions.

What do we really believe fundamentally as a leader? Do our people know? Alignment begins first within us as the leader and then can be integrated into our team with consistent words and actions on our part. Write down today what you truly believe and assess how well it is currently being transmitted by your words and actions into your organization. Your personal alignment and integrity are the foundation for becoming a successful leader. All credibility as a leader starts.

Just found this on YouTube. A video by Google.

Many organizations still view talent acquisition as nothing more the basic HR tasks involved in attracting, hiring, and on-boarding personnel. These organizations react to the changing talent landscape simply by investing in recruiting technology to increase efficiency and control costs. This reactive mentality focuses continuous improvement efforts on combating loss of revenue and not on cultivating talent acquisition as a competitive competency to drive value creation.

To take full advantage of the opportunity the talent shortage presents, executives must begin to think of the talent acquisition process as a long-term value generator and plan accordingly. The old model of investigating and engaging a group of prospective employees only when there is a need is no longer viable or cost effective. Instead, companies must proactively promote a strong employment brand message and manage an active talent pipeline of “future” employees in order to be viewed as an employer of choice for the best talent.

When considering the ramifications that this shift in strategy can have, companies should remember that there is a direct correlation between quality of talent and value creation. The right technology and service investments are more than paid for by the positive impact high-quality recruiting can have on the performance of an organization. The successful implementation of this philosophy will determine the achievement and longevity of organizations going forward.

Your competitors will do what it takes to gain influence over both the top available talent and your currently employed best people. As the talent well dries up, winners will leverage recruiting as a competitive competency, not a transactional task.

As a former professional baseball player, I revel in the fanfare of the Major League Baseball Playoffs and World Series. After 162 games, usually the teams with the most talent have found their way to the top for a chance to be World Champions. I’ve found it to be that way in business as well. Like the consistently successful sport teams, the business organizations that successfully acquire, retain and develop the most talented people usually win the day.

Interestingly, as I talk daily with the leaders of corporate America, one theme runs true and unmistakable: talent is at the top of everyone’s agenda. In Fortune 500 companies, the mid market and even small companies, CEO’s are rallying their executive teams to find, keep and develop top talent. Acquiring, retaining and developing the brightest and the best is no longer a strategy delegated to the Human Resources function. It is being consistently elevated as a strategic expectation for each company executive.

With a dramatic shortage of qualified people being projected by the U.S. Department of Labor between now and the end of the decade (10 million jobs will go unfilled), every company’s leadership must accept the fact that top talent will be a scarce resource. Leaders must devise and, more importantly, execute effective talent acquisition strategies. Becoming recognized as an employer of choice will become critical for companies to attract and retain the people necessary for their businesses to flourish. More creative and innovative recruiting strategies will be required. These new strategies will include: leveraging technology more effectively; outsourcing transactional aspects of the recruiting and hiring process to trusted partners; and developing an effective employment brand. Being able to successfully capture talented “passive” candidates will become a core competency for organizations that want their share of the viable talent.

Capturing talent is only half of the battle. Smart leaders recognize that retention and further development of talented people is not only strategically important, but very beneficial as well. They realize the churning of talent is wasteful, expensive and demoralizing to an organization. It stifles the positive momentum and energy of a company. The reputation for churning your people also becomes a barrier for an organization to attract talent.

To retain people effectively, a company’s vision must be compelling and inspiring. Leadership must act with consistent integrity to engender employee trust and facilitate an “ownership mentality.” Work must be engaging, challenging and meaningful. Support systems such as recognition and reward structures, performance management systems and employee development processes must be evaluated, improved and aligned properly for win-win for the company and the employees. People need to know that performance is aligned with compensation and career opportunities.

The performance of highly talented people can make a remarkable difference in the performance of their companies. They generate creative and innovative ways to better serve their customers. They develop more streamlined and cost-effective business processes. They find ways to help their companies win in their respective markets and financially as well. They bring tremendous positive energy to those around them and help raise the bar as they remind everyone of what is possible.

Business success now and in the future belongs to CEO’s who understand the true value of acquiring, retaining and developing their top talent. Anyone who underestimates the impact of this significant business issue will destine the business, big or small, for failure long term. Ultimately, CEO success will depend on leadership resolve and execution.

In the end, organizations that don’t remain proactive and ahead of the competition with regard to their talent management processes won’t have to worry about the upcoming talent shortage, because it doesn’t take talent to lose the game.