Author Archives: Kate Westerlund and Xiomara Padamsee

New Year’s Resolution Challenge: Articulate Your Organization’s Talent Philosophy

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During a recent workshop that Xiomara Padamsee and I facilitated at the Education Pioneers National Conference, we led an activity with representatives from small nonprofits, medium-sized CMOs, and relatively large public school districts to identify their core beliefs about talent to include in a talent philosophy – a short, bold statement articulating the talent beliefs of an organization. We asked participants to “vote with their feet” by moving to different sides of the room based on whether they believed that their organization should hire for raw potential for impact or demonstrated track record. Unsurprisingly, representatives from newer organizations who were just starting to build up the core of their organizational functions tended to fall on the “demonstrated track record” side of the room, while large, complex organizations with established training capabilities fell on the “raw potential for impact” side of the room.

What Bellwether’s Talent team has seen is that either approach could lead to strong outcomes as long as the approach is clearly articulated in a talent philosophy that consistently guides leadership action, talent investments, and strategies. For example, if you believe in hiring for raw potential, you’ll need to couple that approach with investments in strong staff development opportunities. If you believe in hiring for demonstrated track record, you’ll need to offer competitive compensation packages to attract experienced hires. In our experience, talent philosophies actually should look different at different organizations because they are rooted in the organization’s strategy, cultural beliefs, and mindsets.

A talent philosophy should articulate where you want to go and what you want to be known for when it comes to talent. It articulates an organization’s core beliefs about talent and talent-related priorities, as well as the investments and trade-offs an organization is willing to make to live out these beliefs.

Aligning on an effective talent philosophy that’s well integrated with an organization’s strategy, cultural beliefs, and mindsets takes time, discussion, and dedication from a diverse set of leadership and staff. It’s no secret that there are healthy differences in opinion not only between distinct organizations, but also among leaders within the same organization. It takes time and discussion to reach consensus on core beliefs and what trade-offs should be made related to talent. Continue reading