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Who Moved the Cheese?

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Who Moved the Cheese?

I was determined, when considering this insert, not to allow it to become another one of those rather boring and rather mechanical, "how to" type of articles on talent acquisition! The problem is, how do you make a "done to death" subject like talent acquisition, interesting, informative and innovative? The answer I felt was, to interview "talent" and see what "it" wanted, to allow itself to "be acquired"!

Ever since the question "Who moved my cheese?" was asked in 1998 by Dr Spencer Johnson, we have been enchanted by the adventures of the mice and the disappearance of the cheese. I think if one considers "Talent" as the "Cheese", the answer may well be: "I'm the big Cheese and I moved myself!"


Hello, I'm "Talent" and I'm whatever gender, race, age and qualification you want me to be, but I'm scarce, valuable and mobile, and only respond well to certain things. I am called Talent because I have the ability to make a positive difference to the life of your organisation. I was asked to share with you some of the things you do that make me go "Wow" and some of the things that make me run……….. straight to your opposition!


First off, I'm not going to debate money with you. I know what my going rate is, all I had to do was Google it. I expect you to pay me in a market related financial package and I'm not very negotiable on this.

Right, so now we've got that out of the way, allow me share to with you some of the more important things in my life.


Individualism: I am an individual and unique in many ways, so I expect you to stop using the "shotgun" and "one size fits all" approach to everything you do with me. And by the way, this includes what you call recruitment, selection, compensation, development and all those other HR processes. I don't respond well to being considered a "groupie";


Employer Brand: I am special and I want to work with organisations that are special. I like working for organisations that "stand for something". After all, you spend a lot of money marketing to people who spend money with you – spend some time marketing to me………. Or I'll join your opposition;


Promises: Yes, I want to join an organisation that promises me all I desire, but even more I want to join an organisation that lives up to those promises! (Do you check back with me 3 months after I joined to see "if you made the grade and lived up to those interview promises");


Ethics and Values: I will join an organisation that has a set of ethics and values that I can be proud of and associate with;


Culture, Community and Communication: I won't join and definitely won't stay with an organisation that doesn't have a culture and sense of community that matches mine. The other day, I resigned and left after only 1 day because the culture "sucked" – and anyway I had 3 other offers I had declined! As for communication, surely you know that communication is the lifeblood of my generation? So talk to me, I don't want to learn what's happening to the organisation on twitter! By the way, communication is meant to be two-way, so please, ask my opinion and listen to me!


Visions, Missions, Goals and Strategies: Share these with me; after all I am the one who's going to help you reach those goals and like knowing how my job "fits in";


Employee Value Proposition: This is the "deal", and as I said before, should be "unique" to me. We live in an age of computers and innovation, and you still seem unable to recognise that I need and expect a package "tailored" to meet my unique needs!


Development Opportunities: Let's be honest – we both know I am probably not going to be here forever, there's a whole world out there waiting for me! This means I really value the opportunity to gains skills and knowledge that make me more marketable. I know, I can just hear you saying "why should I develop him, he's going to leave anyway?" Well the answer is, worry less about those you develop, are competent, add value but then leave, than those who are not competent, add no value and stay!


Anyway, I have to go, I've just been twittered about two jobs – one in Dubai and one in France and I need to move fast. Speaking of moving fast, that's what you need to do – please don't keep me waiting for weeks for interviews and weeks for answers – firstly it's non-productive and inefficient and secondly, I won't hang about waiting for an answer. Speed up the process please. Bye for now…


As "Talent" moves off to any of many possible destinations, it remains for me to leave you with a few closing thoughts.


The game has changed and the cheese has moved!


Talent Acquisition should not and must not be a short term, focused "filling of gaps" function, but rather a proactive, complex, long term strategy, aimed at ensuring the organisation has the "right" skills and "right" culture to reach its desired future.


This article was first published in Volume 1 Issue 01 of The SA Leader magazine.

Bill Nash

Bill Nash

Founder and Managing Director of his HR and management development and consulting company, Unique People Solutions (PTY) Ltd (UPS), Bill is absolutely passionate about "the right people being the only sustainable competitive edge in our modern business environment".

UPS focuses on all aspects of Management Development and consulting as well as the development of HR Business Partners who are able to add value to their host organisations.

Bill has some 30 years' experience in line and staff management, primarily in FMCG, in various public companies. At different times in his career he has held the board portfolios of Marketing, Information Technology, Property, Merchandise, Logistics and Human Resources before leaving corporate employment and taking up the challenge of founding Unique People Solutions some 8 years ago.

With a university qualification in Management and Human Resource Management he brings with him not only core Human Resource competencies but also a background of unique practical business experience which he incorporates into his training and client interactions.

He is a registered HR Practitioner (Generalist) as well as a registered HR Practitioner (ETD Specialist) with SABPP.

On the topic of Human Resources he is equally determined that "HR, if it is to survive, must add discernible and measurable value to the bottom line of organisations".


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