Talent Branding, or Talent Advertising?

Talent (comics)

Talent (comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I’ve been working with a company who are great at attracting high-quality candidates.  Their “talent brand” is phenomenal – but they are facing significant problems with high early turnover in their organisation.

At its’ core, any kind of branding (including talent branding) is a promise, a statement of what makes you important and unique, and why you should be trusted.  In the consumer market, your brand might promise value, efficiency, exclusivity, or quality.  In the talent market, it might promise a collaborative, high-performance culture; opportunity; or innovation. Your brand is a set of principles that communicate who you are and what you stand for.

Allbusiness.com suggests a set of principles to use when developing a brand:

  1. “Think analytically. A brand should provide something that warrants attention on a consistent basis, something your audience wants and is not getting from your competitors.”  A “me too” strategy destroys value rather than creating it.  What’s unique about your workplace that appeals to your target (talent) market?  If you don’t know what that target market is yet, define it before you define your talent brand.
  2. “Maintain your brand. One rule of thumb is that when you start to become tired of your …branding efforts, that’s most likely when they are sinking in with customers.”  If you develop a strong value proposition that you truly believe in, then it shouldn’t be a problem sticking to it.
  3. “Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Typically, the best you can do is to focus on the niche market for your product.”  In the talent market, this means understanding the workforce that will lead your organisation to success.  A brand that speaks to you personally is much more powerful than a blanket approach – “we’re great to work for” doesn’t compel.
  4. “Know who you really are. Know your strengths and weaknesses through honest analysis of what you do best.”  This is where your promise is kept or broken.  If you manage to hire top talent, but their experience as an employee is not what the talent brand promised, they’re likely to become disenfranchised and leave – or worse, become disenfranchised and stay.
  5. “Fully commit to branding. Treat all functions of the company, from product development to sales, as integral aspects of your brand.”  A talent brand needs to be integrated into the whole employee lifecycle, not just the attraction side.  If you look after your candidates but not your employees, you’ve got a recipe for employee dissatisfaction.

So what happens when the promise is broken?   In the consumer market, you “make the sale” and your customer becomes disenfranchised and leaves.  It’s the same in the talent market.  If you have high early turnover, take a look at your talent brand.  And consider using Strategic Workforce Planning to coordinate all of your talent initiatives, so you have a coherent strategy throughout the whole employee lifecycle.

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Badly Conceived Infographics

Adelaide Advertiser Infographic

Adelaide Advertiser Infographic, 12th June 2013

Surely the Pulitzer Prize for the most badly conceived infographic in a newspaper must go to the Adelaide Advertiser, who, when respondents to a poll overwhelmingly vote “yes” to something, point an arrow towards “no”.

What’s the most meaningless / misleading infographic you’ve seen?

Where is the love (for HR)?

Back in 2005, Fast Company published an article called “Why We Hate HR“.  Amongst other things, it named and shamed a conference speaker for a presentation that was difficult to understand at an HR Conference (crime of crimes)…

The article is thick with hatred for HR – the opening paragraph suggests that the conference topic, “strategic HR leadership”, signals “a conceit that sounds, to the lay observer, at once frightening and self-contradictory. If not plain laughable.”  While it’s true that many HR professionals aren’t there yet, even 8 years later, I’m not sure why we should be criticised for trying to get there. Continue reading

The Problem with Extrapolation – Predictions for Fast & Furious #50

Cover of "Fast & Furious"

Cover of Fast & Furious

The only sense that is common in the long run, is the sense of change and we all instinctively avoid it – E B White

One of the things about purely numeric forecasts is that they often show how unsustainable a trend can be.  The “No Change Future State” shows what will happen if current trends continue (even though we know in the real world they won’t).  This isn’t scenario planning, it’s not strategy, and it’s not a predictor – it’s simply a conversation starter.  Unfortunately, it’s also the point at which most organisations stop their workforce planning & analytics efforts – they’re not able to make the leap of faith from the hard numbers of the past to the “dark art” of scenario planning.  Unfortunately, this can give you a false sense of confidence in your ability to predict the future. Continue reading

Who’s Planning your Future?

I read with interest today Fast Company’s list of the Most Creative People in Business for 2013.  Two names in particular stood out to me because of the nature of the work I do.  At Number 1 is Nate Silver, the author of “The Signal and the Noise”, who became famous for his predictions of both baseball and politics (he correctly predicted the winner in 49 of the 50 states for the 2008 US Presidential election; and then 50 out of 50, plus DC, for the 2012 election).

So here we have Silver – a statistician – and he’s #1 in a list of the most creative people.  At first, this seems like an oxymoron until you realise that creativity and forecasting are not mutually exclusive – in fact, knowing what to include in a model and what to exclude, as well as how to interpret the results, inherently requires creativity, not just statistical knowledge. Continue reading

Inattentional Bias and Environment Scanning

Even highly skilled and intelligent leaders aren’t good at detecting changes in their environment that might affect strategy. When you are focusing on all of the moving parts of your business, you can be blinded to these important changes.  In psychology, this is known as inattentional bias, which typically happens because we are all overloaded with stimuli, and it is impossible to pay attention to everything in one’s environment.

To be adaptive to change, you need to be attuned to these signals.  Not only that, you need to be able to determine which of those are transient and which are permanent; which of them are opportunities and which of them are threats. Continue reading