I have always had a problem with the war metaphor when talking about Talent Acquisition. War always conjures up images of destruction, dying and wounded, bombings, explosions, protests, POWs and Saving Private Ryan. War also brings with it an expectation of resolution, an end to the conflict, a peace signing.
Under talent acquisition –as – war, there are the victors and the vanquished and to quote Gore Vidal, “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”
Is this really what we want? If you listen to the way people talk about business today, you will hear terms like team building, strategic partners, customer focused, feedback, co-branding. This does not sound like war talk. And when it comes to the search for talent you hear terms like community, engagement, talent hubs, social media, life-work balance, diversity score card. Not exactly war talk either.
So, if not war, then what? Calling the search for talent a war certainly creates a sense of heightened awareness, keeps the troops on high alert, lights a fire under your hiring managers so that they are ready to do battle when the enemy attacks, helps prepare them for the fight that is always ahead. But does it create the proper mindset that will allow you to be successful in your search for talent?
In their award winning book, Co-opetition the authors Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff suggested that
combining competition and cooperation was the best way to describe how successful businesses are run today. The same concept can be applied to the search for talent. Co-opetition suggests that sometimes companies will compete for business, one will win the other will lose. Sometimes companies will co-operate (software – hardware, microchip – computer) and both companies win. In the search for talent, companies can compete for talent directly and one will win and one will lose. Or they can co-operate (company HR – RPO firm) to manage
the process and both could win.
Whether competing for talent or co-operating to acquire talent it is important for companies to constantly be reviewing and improving their competitive advantage. What you are selling the talent directly or through an outside managed partner is critical to the ultimate success of your talent acquisition process.
In a recent article in ERE Daily, Dr. John Sullivan listed a number of initiatives that companies have taken and should take in their constant search for top talent and to become more competitive in the process. This list was compiled from a recent competition for the title of Best Recruiting Organization.
Here is a list of some of the initiatives.
If finding great talent were a war then many of these initiatives would be deemed unnecessary. Just bring up the big guns and unleash the dogs. However, when viewed as co-opetition, all of these above mentioned
initiatives become important to the continued success of your company and your ability to hire great talent. It’s co-opetition, not war. Now, back to the peace talks.