The Staffing Advisor


March 2011

in this issue ...
The Global Talent Paradox
What Apple Can Learn from Disney
Hiring for Intelligence and Humility
Outsourcing HR Functions
Who Should Do the Hiring?
Lessons from a Failed Change Agent
Quiz: Should You Quit Your Job?
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The Global Talent Paradox

Forbes Insights and Deloitte recently launched Talent Edge 2020, following in the path of the 2009-2010 survey series, Managing Talent in a Turbulent Economy. Based on a survey of 334 senior executives, the first Talent Edge 2020 study aims at exploring talent strategies, concerns of global companies, and unfolding employee trends as companies confront a fresh set of challenges that could influence the next decade and beyond.


The report notes that, as companies worldwide struggle to move beyond the great recession, many executives recognize the need to develop talent strategies to meet the demands of the "new normal." 

With trends such as globalization and the aging workforce gaining traction during the recession, global talent leaders are now focused on finding the right balance between economic realities and investment requirements as they position their companies for success in the next decade.


Key findings of the survey:

  • The talent paradox is already creating key shortages: High unemployment rates have not created the talent surplus as predicted. On the contrary, many executives predict talent shortages across key business units.
  • Companies are increasingly challenged to develop the next generation of leaders: With the retirement of Baby Boomers, many executives are concerned about their companies' leadership development programs and pipelines.
  • Companies with retention plans in place are moving beyond anxiety and taking action: They are focusing on initiatives.

Download a free PDF version of the highly readable report.



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I'm happy to report that Staffing Advisors has earned Inavero's 2011 Best of Staffing award - the staffing industry's only award that recognizes exceptional client service.  

What Apple Can Learn from Walt Disney

Steve Jobs has stepped down from the helm of Apple, providing a major challenge for the company's executive team.  Finding a replacement for a breakthrough innovator like Jobs is impossible, so many are recommending a different approach. 


DisneyCharactersJohn Baldoni, writing in Fast Company, draws a comparison between Jobs and another iconic innovator-entrepreneur, Walt Disney. Disney shepherded the Imagineers, creative types who thought out of the box but were willing to work collaboratively to create the most exciting entertainment products of their day.


Disney's empire grew until his death in 1966.  Baldoni notes that after his death a succession of CEOs ran the company as caretakers, doing what Walt would do operationally but not what he would do creatively. It took a new generation of management, headed by Michael Eisner, to get the Walt Disney Company back on track. 


Walt Disney, like Steve Jobs, was a once-in-a-lifetime executive, writes Baldoni. Companies do not replace them. They prepare for their departure by promoting a cadre of people of many different talents to work together to create something valuable.

For some tips on succession planning, see our article in the February 2011 newsletter.

Hiring for Intelligence and Humility 


In a previous post, I mentioned research that showed that traditional interviews are only the 9th best way to predict performance.  One of the best predictors was intelligence.  But how do you assess intelligence? In an interview with The New York Times, Jeremy Allaire, chairman and chief executive of Brightcove, an online video platform for Web sites, says that when he hires, he wants people who are extremely bright. "It doesn't mean they have a certain pedigree, but I look for bright people with whom I can have a high-bandwidth conversation, and who can synthesize really quickly and challenge my thinking."


EmployeesHardHatsAnother attribute Allaire looks for is humility.  Ego-less performance.  I think this is seriously under-rated in hiring and a major factor in team performance.   "I want people who are nice, who are genuinely good people," he says. "If I had the opportunity to have someone who is the most brilliant person in the world but they are a prima donna, I wouldn't want them. We've had a couple people like that. They can't thrive because they turn people off and they can't operate in this kind of environment."


Michael Lebowitz, founder and CEO of Big Spaceship, a digital marketing and communications agency, concurs. "Don't hire jerks, no matter how talented," he advises.  He says he learned this early on, when he was a small start-up and was doing everything possible to maintain a positive framework. He looked for people he liked, because he'd seen how, no matter how talented they are, the negative are always going to pull down the positive. "The second- or third- or fourth-best candidate who isn't a jerk ultimately is going to provide way more value." 


The rest of the Lebowitz interview.  


Which HR Functions Should You Outsource?



The HRExaminer recently surveyed its Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) members about outsourcing various HR functions. What should stay?  What should go?  Are there functions that should never be outsourced?


The EAB members unequivocally held two simple principles:

  • If it is repeatable, it can be outsourced.
  • Anything that does not generate significant, measurable strategic value should be considered for outsourcing.

John Sumser analyzed the poll data and summarized it in this graph

Other notable findings from the poll:

  • Outsourcing is the norm.  No one on the panel suggested that all of HR's functions should always be performed by in-house people.
  • About 65% of panelists thought that both Recruiting and Payroll should be outsourced.
  • There was disagremeent.  About 25% thought Performance Management should be outsourced; an equal percentage thought it should never be outsourced.

While there are no easy answers in survey results, you'll likely find value in seeing how each panelist framed the decision.  You may even find yourself agreeing with my response. 




Who Should Do the Hiring?

Talent matters, but very few people are great at identifying it.  Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer of N2growth, wrote a thought-provoking post about his philosophy for hiring top talent. 


Identifying and recruiting talent requires much more than screening a resume and having a set of standard interviewing questions. There are issues of values, vision, and culture that need to be carefully addressed in the hiring process. These issues can be overlooked if the wrong person is evaluating talent.


NetworkingAdding even more complexity to the hiring process is that not all those capable of identifying talent are good at recruiting, and "sealing the deal." Think about it, does the person in charge of your hiring process have a track record of convincing top performers to quit their jobs and come work for you?


Myatt believes that when HR is solely responsible for recruiting 

senior management, you'll end up with a very weak leadership team. Unless your company is large enough to have a Chief Talent Officer, Myatt says executive recruiting should not be an HR function.  To ensure you make the best hiring decisions possible, he offers a list of recommended practices

Lessons from a Failed Change Agent

The abrupt departure of Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin after less than six months on the job provides a cautionary tale for new leaders in any industry. Griffin had been a polarizing figure at Time Inc.  When he was ousted, Time reported he was not a good fit for the organization. Said one insider: "A good leader makes decisions that are inclusive, inspiring, motivating. With Jack, it was a demoralized, estranged group of execs."


In a blog for the Harvard Business Review, Julia Kirby writes that, in addition to being a bad fit for the organization, Griffin arrived at Time Inc. with extra baggage: "He is part of that special class of unloved executives known as the 'change agent'."


In one of the more entertaining lines of her blog, Kirby notes that "nothing guarantees more schadenfreude on your departure than having arrived as an agent of change." She offers several take-away lessons from Griffin's short Time Inc. career. Among them: 


         Avoid the term "change agent".  It's insulting. It casts veteran managers as part of the problem, not forces for positive change.

         Arrive without a vision. Leaders can't present answers that are theirs alone. Colleagues want visions of the future that reflect their own aspirations.

         Go directly to "us". Great leadership involves tapping into the psychology of "us" versus "them."

         Surround yourself with new friends. Don't surround yourself with cronies. It's an understandable temptation when you don't yet know your new colleagues. But nothing is more alienating to your inherited team than to suddenly be on the outside of the inner circle looking in.


Read the full list of lessons learned.

Quiz: Should You Quit Your Job?
Climb over CubeDo you daydream about quitting your job?  This quiz, by Dawn Rosenberg McKay at, will help you determine if you have enough reasons to quit. 

When you get your results, you'll be given some suggestions to help you deal with workplace issues without having to quit. Ready? Start the quiz. 
Washington Business Journal


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Now you can read our blog posts in The Washington Business Journal.  Here are a few of the topics already posted: 

  • Salary surveys help you hire average people. 
  • What, exactly, is a top performer?
  • Job hunting?  Learn how to use LinkedIn. 

Read more . . .