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Dangling Carrot

So right now I have a lot of energy around company’s using their top talent as a recruiting tool.

Essentially (and you can read more about this in the link above), I’d like to see companies selling candidate’s on the opportunity to come work with a great manager.

Smart people realize that one of the best ways to grow their lifetime earnings is by being a lifelong learner, and many professional employees will take a 1. Employers should not make the mistake of thinking they can perpetually offer learning and development in place of pay. An employee who takes a pay cut for a developmental opportunity eventually expects to see some ROI.(temporary 1) pay cut if they feel they can get the right developmental opportunities from a new employer. As such, a company that can really sell the value of working for them on the basis of training opportunities from working with world class talent (as opposed to having to incentivize with cash) is at a relative competitive advantage in the marketplace.

One problem that stands out to me about this idea, however, is that if the manager talent you’re using as a selling point to candidate’s doesn’t have a strong brand, the value of the developmental opportunity may not carry very much weight for said candidates.

Without a compelling brand there isn't much to sell talent on.

Without a compelling brand there isn’t much to sell talent on.

Sometimes the brand of a company is so strong that candidates know there is a tremendous learning opportunity independent of their manager (think Human Resources at Google, for instance), but most of the time if a company intends to sell learning and development as a recruiting tool – particularly in lieu of earnings – they need to have someone or something to 2. There are a host of things a company can do to sell a learning and development proposition, including discussing development plans with the employee as part of the job offer. This is outside the scope of today’s article, however, and something best tackled in detail at a later date.earnestly market. 2

To that point, I really believe that companies should increase the profile of their leaders in key functions to use said leaders brand equity as a recruiting tool. Make them the face of the company by getting them profiled in magazines, attaching their names and faces to major press releases, and highlighting their accomplishments in earnings reports.

I’m not just talking about NEOs here, either. Regional Managers of business units, Directors in support functions, and even ultra high talent individual contributors (think chief economists) are all great candidates for this treatment.

And in the era of social media this isn’t something that will necessarily be expensive for a communications team to coordinate, either. The primary 3. Which should perhaps not be understated here – most people don’t realize how much time it takes to manage the social media presence for a company – let along several employees.component here is manpower and time. The upside is of course huge – a company can now market the opportunity to work for a manager the same way a school like Harvard markets both it’s name and faculty.

Of course if a company does this then it has to lock said employees into the organization with lots of un-vested equity (to make them too expensive for competitors to poach). This creates some internal equity issues that would have to be worked through on an organizational basis, but from a cost perspective it’s pennies on the dollar to pay the top talent in the organization at the 95th+ percentile – particularly if it’s in the form of equity (which aligns their values even more with the company).

This is a complex issue that may not make sense for every company, but I think it’s something every organization should at least have a discussion about.

As always, share your thoughts below.



If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses: 

SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR rorytrotter86@gmail.com