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Matuson Consulting // A Newsletter On: Creating exceptional workplaces and extraordinary results

As we wind down the year, it is easy to kick back and take your foot off of the hiring accelerator. Do yourself a favor. Stay the course. The market for talent continues to tighten. Those of you who remain focused will have a much smoother ride in 2018 than those who don’t.

Bruce Springsteen’s Talent Equation


Last week, I had the honor of seeing Bruce Springsteen on Broadway. The performance was incredibly moving. I have to admit, seeing Jimmy Kimmel and Howard Stern seated in the row behind me certainly added to the excitement. This was no ordinary Springsteen show. 

Springsteen told the story of his life through his music, and also shared quotes from his newly released autobiography, Born to Run. One story in particular stood out for me. Springsteen said that most people think that one plus one equals two. However, according to his mathematical theory on talent, one plus one equals three. He then went on to talk about how each talented member of the E Street Band equaled way more than their individual parts.

I see the same thing in business. I always tell the executives that I work with that you don't need a lot of talent when you have it. The problem is that talent is in short supply in many organizations. Is that true in your organization?
Here's how to tell. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. If I were putting a new team together tomorrow, would I include those who are already on my team?
  2. Who on my team would I release today if I didn't have to go through the long-winded process that's required in most organizations?
  3. Who would I hire tomorrow if money were no object?

Given that unemployment claims fell to 222,000 this past week, which is the lowest in forty-four years, you may want to start digging for gold in your own backyard before heading on a long and expensive talent expedition. Look for the hidden talent in your organization. For example, there may be non-degreed people in your company who are perfectly capable of taking on responsibilities usually reserved for those with college degrees, or people who are reentering the workplace with an abundance of experience that they may not be using in their current role. 

There's also the issue of raw talent. Springsteen spoke highly of his former saxophone player and friend Clarence Clemons, who passed away in 2011. No doubt Clemons had raw talent. Who in your organization can blow the socks off of his or her co-workers if just given a chance to toot their own horn in a sea of cubicles? These are the people you should be investing in, as they are your rising stars.

Great artists like Springsteen didn't get where they are today without some help. They assembled a solid team of talented people who made them better than they were on their own. They created their own equation for success, which is exactly what you must do if you want people to be singing the praises of your company for years to come.

Are College Degrees a Necessity?

I can’t believe I’m even asking this question as my daughter is applying to college and our son is completing his first semester. The answer depends on the type of position you are trying to fill.

Some professions, like engineering and medicine, most certainly require more education than a high school diploma. But does a receptionist or someone in a customer service role, with a fancy job title that is somewhat deceiving, need a college degree to be proficient in their job? Apparently some people think so! While the nature of the work hasn’t changed, the ratcheting up of necessary qualifications erects a higher barrier of entry, threatening the social mobility of millions and adding costs to both workers and employers, according to a new study from Harvard Business School, Accenture, and Year Up, a nonprofit that places young people into jobs.

According to the latest JOLTS (Job Openings and Layover Turnover Summary) there are as many as 6.1 million jobs available in the US, now performed by workers without degrees, in fields that have started making higher-education a common requirement. For example, among the 603,0000 people employed as production supervisors, only 16% have four-year college degrees, yet 67% of job listings for the role require them. Requiring four-year degrees shrinks the pool of available talent, which makes jobs harder to fill. You also may be paying a heck of a lot more than you might need to, given that the median weekly income for employees with bachelor’s degrees is $1,156 compared to $692 for those without a degree. Still think a college degree is a necessity?

LinkedIn Talent Connect

I just returned from Nashville, where I had the honor of presenting at the LinkedIn Talent Connect Conference. While there, I had the pleasure of listening to Project Runway’s Tim Gunn share his ideas on talent.

Tim and I both believe that traits matter more than talent. When hiring, focus on the traits that will yield the outcomes you are seeking. His top picks included curiosity, tenacity, and vision.

In my work with clients, I have found that organizations are more concerned with experience than with traits like Gunn describes, which probably explains why employee turnover rates for many companies are a lot higher than they need to be. In today's environment, where we're basically at full employment, why not try something new? Take a few plays out of Tim Gunn's playbook and it won't be long before you too are strutting down the runway with your talented team following you.

Did you know that in addition to being a strategic advisor, I also present at conferences? Know someone looking for a speaker? Shoot me a note and I promise to get right back to you.

Rules of Attraction: Your Monthly Tip on Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Compliance is overrated. What you really want is commitment.

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For more tips on attracting and retaining top talent, download a copy of Talent Magnetism. Call us today at 617-608-3633 if you’d like to discuss applying these concepts to your organization.

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Meet Roberta Matuson

For more than 25 years, Roberta Matuson has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including General Motors, Best Buy, and, The Boston Beer Company, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent.

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