Is your talent strategy a house of cards?

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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February 22, 2013

It’s possible that Netflix, or just streaming video in general, is one of the greatest things ever invented. I’ll admit that it’s got me hooked on more shows, sold me more products and wasted more time than I can count. Now comes a new, complete series on Netflix, House of Cards, and I’m hooked again.

If I wanted, I could watch the entire series in a day (that’s probably not going to happen – although I do feel a tickle in my throat). Might have to take a sick day. No commercials and no waiting until next week for the next episode.

The premise is old; Washington politics. However, it’s compelling and relates at every turn to both talent and strategy. It’s about the people you surround yourself with and in Washington that’s a critical thing.

The same goes for business. Your ability to meet your customer’s needs, grow your business, manage risks and create a culture is all dependent upon the people you hire. A few bad hires and your business could crumble like, yes, a house of cards.

Washington might actually be able to teach us something about talent strategy (shocking, I know). Here are a few things to think about:

Is your talent strategy dependent on one person or just a few resources? I think we all know that most businesses are running leaner these days. HR is no exception and it’s likely you have fewer people sourcing and recruiting. What happens if one of them leaves or demand becomes overwhelming? You need a talent strategy that is multi-faceted and has multiple resources you can scale up or down as needed. In Washington, they go to great lengths to ensure that one person cannot take down a bill or an administration. You should too. Talent is the lifeblood of your organization and worthy of investment.

Who developed and who is running your talent strategy? A politician wouldn’t let a rookie run their campaign or their office. And many times, they bring in consultants in special areas to provide guidance or management where their core team may need help. Your talent strategy should be similar. You should build a strong core team, but look for outside help if needed to augment your capabilities or provide focused support in one area or another. Campaigns are won and lost by the people they employ and so is your business.

People are the culture of your business, not your policies or a mission statement. A campaign is built around a person much like a business is built around a culture. The people you hire day in and day out are critical to creating or maintaining that culture. It can’t be left to chance and I believe many HR issues have their root in culture clashes, policies that don’t match the culture or an unclear culture. Every hire is important to the culture you want to build. It takes resources, time and a solid talent strategy to make that happen.

So those are some of the good things we can take from Washington politics in Netflix’s House of Cards. The other parts are not so good. But it makes for compelling drama. And it should remind you that if you have a solid talent strategy and good recruiting resources, you can hire the right people and avoid some of the HR drama.

Cough, cough. Now that I think about it, I am feeling that cold coming on…

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