The Main Attraction?

Quiet Riot ‎– QR III

The main attraction – Satisfaction

Guaranteed to rock the chains that bind you

The main attraction – Your reaction

Guaranteed to leave your tracks behind you

Those words are the chorus to “Main Attraction” from the ‘one-hit-wonder’ 80’s metal band Quiet Riot and they resonate with the topic of attracting talent which caused some heated discussions recently.

I often hear people talking about talent gaps or how hard it is to find the right talent and I wonder if I’m somehow walking about in a parallel universe

Two years ago I left corporate life to immerse myself in the start-up and scale-out community and during that time I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly gifted and talented individuals and companies. I have spent time with some amazing commercially savvy technologists – analysts, designers, developers, architects etc. And not just in companies. In some cases it’s been loosely formed groups of individuals who have chosen to work together to solve a particular problem or because they share a common purpose or vision.  

And they’re really not that hard to find. Go to any tech meetup, hackathon or similar and they’ll be there, speaking with eloquence and passion about their latest project.

But they have another thing in common – they don’t want to work for you !!

And It’s not arrogance. It’s just you don’t offer what they want.

You see, for years our companies have subcontracted “talent” to HR departments and their mantra has been one of “recruit and retain”. Find people, develop them into good corporate citizens and then keep the best ones as long as possible. But “recruit and retain” is an agenda that’s all about the company. It was never really about the individuals.

In a hyper connected world where people can share their ideas, passions, purpose; where they can assemble and dissemble as groups or cohorts – is it any wonder that they are turning their back on the structure, rigour and restrictions of the corporate world?.

The problem is not theirs – it’s ours and we need to rethink the solution. My colleague at analyst house the Leading Edge Forum, Dave Aron, talks about traditional HR as “the failed experiment” and he’s right – we are the ones who need to change.

How?? Well perhaps it’s time to stop thinking “recruit and retain” and start thinking “attract, adapt and learn”. Actively seek out  talent rather than waiting for it to find you. Adapt to it’s unique construct – don’t shoehorn it into yours – and then actively learn from it. Then, when the time comes to move on, celebrate departure or deconstruction because you’ve developed as a team, department or company and, hopefully, if you approach all this in the right way, you’ll be referenced in glowing terms making you even more attractive to the next wave.

As the late George Michael put it…

All we have to do now

Is take these lies and make them true – somehow.

All we have to see

Is that I don’t belong to you and you don’t belong to me