Thursday, 28 February 2008

Is talent pink?

Thanks Jo, for your guest post on the CIPD's Talent Management conference.

Readers can read more of Jo Jordan's blogging at:

I do agree with Jo that this was an excellent conference, and I certainly enjoyed chairing it.

And I support nearly all of what presenters discussed.

However, as regular readers will know however, I do feel slightly uncomfortable with the prevailing tendency within HR, which also came through at this conference, to emphasise 'hard HR' at the expenses of the 'soft'.

Yes, talent management is an essential business process, and can have a significant impact on business results (which I guess can be considered hard), but producing these results often requires, in my experience, a soft, humanistic, progressive approach.

I understand where this tendency comes from, and I agree that many HR functions which have still to prove their business credentials. But for an HR Director to boast that they are a business person first and an HR person second just emphasises that they're not creating value from their people in the way that they could.

HR's not just part of a business, it's the function that enables the business 'most important asset'. Leveraging this asset deserves to come first. And doing this effectively requires what is usually referred to as a soft approach.

In one of the presentations at the talent management conference, LogicaCMG referred to the tagline of their employer brand which is 'Hello Yello' (yellow being the colour of their brand imagery).

I wonder given the colour scheme of my own website, and my support for what some might see as a 'pink and fluffy'* approach to people management, (and if it hadn't already been taken by breast cancer awareness,) I should have developed my own tagline as 'Think Pink'?

* - Please note that I do firmly believe that a strategic and people centered approach to the management of people for the accumulation of human capital (my definition of HCM) is very, very different to a traditional, unstrategic and administrative one (an approach that is often referred to as Personnel).


  1. Whoops, I'd better add that it was my interpretation that we are managers first and HR specialists second.

    I think the danger of thinking "I am in HR" is that we stop thinking about "we".

    I like to hear the story of a company as the actions "we" have taken. I get very uncomfortable when us and them creeps in, whether the division is between managers and HR, or managers and employees. That is akin to the strikers talking of the midfielders as them.

    That's my logic. Be part of the team first and the exact position second.

    But I get Jon's point. Mimicking the actions of a striker when you are midfielder doesn't make sense. We do need to play in position, so to speak.

  2. Hi Jo,

    I think my point is that in many ways, we're playing in a different game, or at least in a different role - eg the football (soccer) manager, not on the pitch - see my post on Jose Mourinho:

    Let me tell you a story (see my next post)...


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