The Joy of Validation

March 5, 2010

I love being validated, especially with my work.  I am attending the Talent Management magazine’s Strategies 2010 conference this week and two speakers from Wednesday’s session spoke about employee engagement.  To hear Dave Ulrich, Professor of Business at the University of Michigan talk about the differences in the generations, how imperative it is to link talent competences to the customer experience and understanding the need for employees to find meaning in their work is validation for what I try to help companies understand and apply to their people management strategies.  

Ulrich introduced a new concept that pit the widely known McKinsey War for Talent versus the Marshall Plan.  The Marshall Plan refers to the plan that was enacted after World War II by the US in 1947 as a way to help rebuild Europe.  The plan was created by George Marshall who at the time was the US Secretary of State.  Instead of focusing on winners and losers as the US had done after the end of WWI, the Marshall Plan focused on rebuilding Europe.  Ulrich’s concept was to take the lessons learned from this plan and apply it to managing people.  Here is how he compared the two schools of thought.

War for Talent                                                  Marshall Plan

Talent is a scarce resource                               Talent is a scarce resource

Work to win talent                                            Work to retain talent

It’s a win/lose game                                          It’s a win/win game

Talent focuses on the inside                              Talent focuses on the outside

Competence and commitment                           Contribution and meaning

Below are two other concepts Ulrich discussed:

— The new definition of high potentials should be ambition, ability and agility.  Ambition is doing what it takes to get the job done, ability is IQ, EQ or however you define it and agility is the desire to learn and grow. 

— Moving the employee learning investment from the long known 70-20-10 to 50-30-20.  Fifty percent should be on-the-job experience/job assignments; thirty percent should be focused on good training and twenty percent on training or learning outside the company. 

His closing thought was poignant and one I hear people talk about often as to why they do what they do…building a world for the next generation, one our children and grandchildren want to live in.  When you answer those two questions when you get to heaven (a reference from the Bucket List movie) how will you answer?  The two questions are…

  • Did you find joy?
  • Did you bring joy to others?

It may have been a session about talent management but one of the greatest take-aways was the concept that companies, HR professionals, and company leaders can reap the benefits of having engaged employees that find meaning in their work. 

So is there joy in your life, in your work?


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