Managing Talent in a Passion Driven Job Market

I have not sought out nor come across any empirical data set that proves this, nor do I plan to. However, I have spent a lot of time hearing the same story over and over again. Many people are not excited about the work they are doing everyday. The last Forbes survey stated that four out of five people were not happy with their jobs. Four out of Five – that is 80%, which puts the 20/80 rule (that 20% of your efforts get 80% of the work done) into an entirely different perspective. Just think about that when you’re heading out the door and on the crowded bumper-to-bumper highway on the way to work. As you sit there, looking at your phone (when you shouldn’t be), look at the cars sitting there around you and realize, for every five cars, four of those drivers are not happy about going to work.

[wcm_restrict]The question then becomes, as a business owner, leader or HR manager, what should you do about it? I would contend that the best investment you can make is in talent management. Every organization is looking to create and protect its competitive advantage and those often come in two flavors – resources or capabilities – and talent (your people) help you create, sustain and protect both. However, it is common, that when we think about talent management, the systems we create around it are usually geared towards the long-term goals and strategy of the enterprise. In essence, we funnel people into the vision, goals and strategy we have for the company. That manifests itself in how we recruit, manage, appraise and develop talent. Through each of those phases the interactions are guided by the organization’s interest, language and prerequisites of what it believes qualifies an individual to fit into that vision.

I would argue that in today’s environment, which is probably best described as transient (e.g. the employer-employee contract of loyalty is gone), fluid (e.g. while people are still willing to grow in vertical path, many seek to grow horizontally and cross-functionally) and global (e.g. people can work anywhere physically or virtually) that employers need to create relationships with talented individuals and networks versus the historically route of creating jobs/roles and plugging people into them. In what I might describe as the passion-driven job market – where individuals are less concerned about achieving a post at the top of the chain in a fortune 500 company and are more concerned about enjoying what they do – for the long haul, employers need to re-pivot.

To re-pivot, employers need to genuinely engage talent on their terms, seeking to understand what they are passion about – beyond the job description for the role they are trying to fill. Employers need to understand what drives a person and why; where does the person ultimately want to go and how; and what experiences the person believes they need along that journey This approach is not about just creating a database of information on your talent, but is about being a part of that person’s journey – which is a departure from the ways of old (or the current) – which is largely about telling an employee how ‘fit’ into the corporation’s journey.

While it’s certainly still true that big brands can attract talent, it is also still true that the costs to replace talent is expensive and in a passion-driven job market, that cost will rise exponentially as passion seekers will follow their passion, not a brand nor the convenience of ‘hanging around’ a place that does not help them chase their passions and be a part of their journey.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]

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About the Author

James RosseauJames Rosseau is the author of Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life (Career Press, 2014). James is President of LegalShield Solutions, as well as co-owner of Christian Media Properties (