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Talent Transformation: The New Culture of Work

HR transformation hiring for jobs that don t exist

When talking about talent transformation, we usually immediately think about AI or about jobs that don’t exist yet.

There is a lot of research on how the type of jobs we will be doing will change. Some of it seems a bit alarmist, and we need to be careful of statistics that do not seem to be backed by meaningful data (looking at you, IFTF who says that 85% of the jobs that learners of 2017 will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet...).

However, the direction of that type of research is correct. The rise of AI, the gig economy, the increased liquidity of the job market, the democratization of learning tools … all of these contribute to job profiles changing.

Screenshot 2019-02-27 11.47.39

However, there are other aspects to the change of work that are less about new job profiles, and more about the new culture and environment in which they will exist. We like to keep an eye on examples of this kind of change, mostly because they get less attention and therefore present more of an opportunity to get ahead.

The workplace of the future acknowledges feelings

Researchers Robert Kegan, Lisa Lahey, Andy Fleming and Matthew Miller have been researching and writing a lot about companies they call “Deliberately Developmental Organizations”: organizations in which people are encouraged to grow everyday by making it easy for them to be radically honest about mistakes, vulnerabilities, negative feelings, and feedback.

The reason for their interest in this type of organization is because they see how much energy is wasted by employees in managing their reputation at work. Even in the most effective organizations, people spend large amount of times backing up their decisions, carefully directing blame away from themselves, and designing processes to protect them in case a mistake is made.

THe researchers behind “An Everyone Culture” looked into companies who choose to openly address the basic human feelings behind these issues, and specifically emntion three examples: Bridgewater, Nextjump, and Decurion.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” - Peter Drucker

These companies put in place processes that make it extremely easy to confront the irrational, emotional part of every decision-making process, instead of enabling team members to post-rationalize bad decisions by relying on data and process.

Decurion, for example, holds “fishbowl” conversations where it asks employees about how they experience a project that’s stalling. They legitimately put one person in the middle of a circle, and presumably invite them to say sentences that start with “I felt shut down when this decision was made”, “I felt left out”. They fully acknowledge that business decisions are made by humans with feelings- so why not start with those when something goes wrong?

Bridgewater uses an “issues log” where every employee is applauded and rewarded for logging mistakes. They invite employees to use a “pain button” app where they can share moments of their workday that make them feel defensive.

It sounds insanely ambitious to want to attack productivity issues as such a primal human level. How can a company expect to coach all of its employees into being less defensive, more accepting of their faults and limitations, and comfortable with being constantly vulnerable to others? But that, right there, is why we need to sit up and pay attention. Ideas that sounds insane now may very well become essential in to a strong employer brand in 10 years.

Talent transformation means taking real risks. Unlimited vacations, working from home, flexible time off, lenient sickness policies… these are perks and cultural practices that are almost standard in major business hubs. And yet, just twenty years ago, most HR leaders would have considered them extremely risky and not worth implementing. That is why it’s important to pay attention to new human resource and talent attraction practices way before they are even close to being mainstream.

Talent Acquisition needs to stay on top of change

The WEF and Linkedin collaborated to look at hiring trends between 2013 and 2017, as it’s important to check against the recent past when making predictions about the future. One of their most interesting findings is the following: Talent-related professions have been on the rise across all regions.

We’ve seen for a while now a rise in the interest directed at the Talent function in business, with CEOs being especially worried about their ability to attract and retain talent for their organizations. This trend could certainly be one reason behind the increase in talent-related hires. Another one could be that the expectations of candidates and the skills needed for constantly evolving jobs are changing much faster than before and therefore need closer attention.

Either way, TA leaders need to stay on top of these trends, and recognize that the way to bring value to their organizations is by preempting these changes in the job market, being more proactive, and developing the necessary advisory and analytical skills to help their companies adapt.


Major paradigm shifts such as the ones surrounding the future of work tend to follow a typical hockey-stick curve. For the longest time it seems like they’re not happening and it’s not worth the risk to adopt them. Companies like Bridgewater and Decurion have been practicing the cultural principles described above for a good decade now.

But then, a few more companies take the jump, there’s a subtle change that you miss somehow, and suddenly all the best candidates start talking about these radically different cultures, gravitating towards them, and firmly labelling companies who don’t adopt them as backwards and behind the times. TA teams cannot expect to be ahead of the competition if they consistently insist on waiting until it’s “safe” adapt.

Selecting the Right Recruitment Marketing Technology for your Business

According to Aptitude Research, over 70% of enterprise organizations are investing in recruitment marketing capabilities this year.In order to help with this process, Kelly Cartwright, head of Talent Acquisition Technology Strategy at Amazon Web Services, and Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, will be discussing some of the latest trends in recruitment marketing and key recommendations for evaluating providers in our next webinar.

[image-caption][view on-demand webinar here.]( [image-caption-end]