Talentism: Principles for Purpose in a Pandemic

On April 12, 2020, in HRExaminer, by John Sumser

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Talentism is laser-focused on the systematic realization of human potential. What gets my attention is the compelling way they deliver coaching to their clients. My favorite bit is what they call the “Three Cs.”  It’s a framework for keeping individuals and their organizations flexible and focused in the midst of confusion.

Jeff Hunter is a seasoned innovator in things HR. When I first met him, he was building a job board called Datamain. This was back in the days when there were only three other job board vendors. Datamain was built on matching structured data from applicants with structured data about the job.

From there, Hunter went on to build recruiting teams at Electronic Arts, Dolby, and Bridgewater Associates. While at EA, he threw the first-ever recruiting unconference. These days, he runs the six-year-old company he founded: Talentism.

The company is laser-focused on the systematic realization of human potential, beginning with the company itself. That’s an audacious vision. What gets my attention is the compelling way they deliver coaching to their clients. My favorite bit is what they call the “Three Cs.”  It’s a framework for keeping individuals and their organizations flexible and focused in the midst of confusion. I think I might have heard someone say “We’re in the confusion business,” but I can’t swear to it.

The core idea of the company is simple. Confusion is the result of a mismatch between expectations and reality. Confusion can be resolved in one of two ways: Certainty or Clarity. Certainty is immensely attractive but carries the embedded risk of a repetition of confusion. Clarity, on the other hand, involves navigating changing expectations as a matter of course. I’ve found this 20-minute video to be very useful.

Here’s how Jeff is advising his clients to manage during the current discontinuity. I think he nails it.

Principles for Purpose in a Pandemic

by Jeff Hunter

Offered with the hope that these principles will help you make good decisions for yourself and for your Talentism teammates in the midst of a once-in-a-millennium source of confusion. Feedback always welcome.

Start with You – Remember our principles. This isn’t a time for us to throw the cultural baby out with the pandemic bathwater. Reality is good. Start with you. Compassion is advantage. Take this opportunity to learn and grow, and to learn more about your Big4. Nothing important has changed about our culture, our purpose, or who we aspire to be.

Compassion is Advantage – We are equipped to deal with confusion. It is our expertise. We are practiced at helping others get to clarity. Helping others get to clarity is our beating heart. Don’t forget it, no matter how afraid you may be. Clarity is courage.

Stay Close with your Clients – Use this opportunity to really learn their business and business conditions.

Put in Extra Effort to Pass “The Test” – Who do your clients call first when they get confused? You? This is the ultimate test of how much your clients believe they need you. If they are calling someone else, learn and experiment to improve.

Take Risks to Support New Clients – There will be prospects who need us but can’t afford us. If you think you can really help them, then you should be willing to take the risk of taking them on even when they can’t pay. But because we all share in that risk, you need to be in sync with your manager first.

Remember The Total Rewards Picture – Month-to-month retainers are best for our business right now. But there are many ways that clients can provide us something of value in return for the value we provide them. They can reward us in many ways. Those rewards could include equity stakes, deferred payments, loans against current services, and publicity (i.e. hosting a webinar with us). First, figure out if we can help them. Then figure out the best way to help them. Only then figure out how to get fair rewards for your help.

Remember the Total Solutions Picture – There are many ways to help others right now. You can send them content, text them that you are thinking of them, connect them to others that could benefit them, give them a free session, or otherwise just be available in ways you haven’t been available before. Now is not the time to stick to the script.

Work with Who You Want – Do you want to continue with a customer who can’t pay right now? Then see if you can get value in other ways (referrals, public reference statements). Understand that we will need to prioritize paying customers, or else have to make hard decisions that will affect everyone. But take the risk of working with people who need help.

Stay Close with Your Manager – Your manager is responsible for being able to achieve their goals through your work. That means they need to know the risks and opportunities you are seeing so that they can advocate for attention, capital and changes to respond to rapidly changing conditions. Staying in sync with your manager ensures we can succeed.

Update the Sales Pipeline Constantly – The sales tracker is the way that we forecast risk and opportunity. It gives us vital information we need to assess our collective future. If the tracker isn’t updated during mass confusion, you should expect that management expects the worst and will plan accordingly.

Build our Brand – People use all sorts of words and ideas to describe their current experience. We want them to use the word “confusion.” It is less disturbing than “panic” and it is more helpful since there is a path to solution that is better than “just calm down.” While the current situation is terrible, it is an opportunity for us all to learn and get better. The concept of “confusion” creates that opportunity. So first we want people to use the word confusion. And when they feel confused, we want them to think about us, because we can help take that confusion and turn into clarity. Remember, we are one of the only businesses built on the foundation of “Confusion is the path to advantage.” Eventually, the pandemic will end. But confusion will continue. And we want people to think of Talentism as the aspirin to that pain.

Build the Culture – When things are collectively confusing, it is time to ensure greater autonomy and greater sync. Take personal responsibility. Practice self-awareness. Ask for help. And look for your path to excellence.

Autonomy is More Important Than Ever – You should feel even more confident about your autonomy:

  • Get creative – think about ways that we can apply our IP, frameworks and products to create more clarity for clients. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what products and services make sense in times of confusion.
  • Be obsessed with the customer – they are confused and they need our help. Don’t wait for others to tell you to keep close to your customers.
  • Compassion is advantage – don’t wait for others to tell you how to find people in confusion and help them get to clarity.
  • Give now to receive later – don’t wait for others to tell you how they need help. Look for ways to give away clarity. It’s an investment in the future.

Sync is More Important Than Ever – You should be even more attentive to sync with:

  • Your customers about their current business conditions, including the threats and opportunities they fear and are compulsive about.
  • Believable experts about what will happen in the markets that affect your clients.
  • Each other about how they are feeling, and where they need help.
  • Your manager about getting to clarity about what is needed for Talentism to thrive in the midst of chaos, and about how our circumstances may affect you.
  • The machine required to help you implement your solutions. Don’t think that just because you came up with a great idea that others need to do anything with it, or will jump on the chance to add more to their plate. An idea needs execution. Your idea means it’s your responsibility to execute it. But of course,  you can and should sync with others to help you.


 
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