If you pay attention to some commentators on recruiting and human capital management, we’re at war. No, I don’t mean the one in Afghanistan, or even the one against terror. I mean the War for Talent.
Is there anyone out there who, with me, sees this metaphor as tired and tastelessly inaccurate in today’s world, not to mention downright silly and macho-pretentious? What does it say about us that we have continued to invoke it so mechanically and reflexively for more than a decade, after all that’s happened to us as a nation and a world culture?
Back in the heady days of the start-up boom, it was once a clever, seriocomic outrider of dot.com expansionism. But it’s time to move on. Of course companies and organizations are engaged in competition with each other—competition for market share, for a share of our attention, and even for talent. But let’s not confuse healthy competition with aggressive conflict. Would you endorse this rough-and-tumble strain if it were to spread inside your organizational culture?
The War for Talent? Say it and listen to yourself. Don’t you sound like a character on Mad Men? Let’s allow this blow-hard, self-aggrandizing bromide to fade into business history, like the dictaphone.