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Nine Steps to Creating a Talent-Friendly Organisation

The war for talent is nothing new, but in keeping with the exponential nature of the post-industrial world, it is becoming more acute. Some organisations believe they have the upper hand in talent recruitment and so talented people should be grateful for the opportunity to work for them, what with the rise of the robots. But the power axis is shifting to the talent and so employers need to work harder to acquire and retain their best people. We need to build talent-friendly organisations.

Our ability to think is not our advantage. But the power of innovation, the feeling of empathy, our cognitive frameworks, and our ability to arrange ourselves into larger social groups is.

We might think of the top talent as cognitive athletes. So, we need to create environments that enable cognitive athletes to do great work with other cognitive athletes. The importance of optimising the work environment is critical to maximising the organisation’s cognitive capacity.

I’ve identified a set of drivers that we as workers need to express daily in order to live as we were designed. They are:


Design your offices to encourage mobility. Locate amenities such that it requires people to leave their desk and walk, or hold meetings while walking.


As social animals we want to be part of a group or tribe. As an organisation, this could take the form of social events, or by ensuring people are incentivised to keep in touch and strengthen their bonds.

Work-life integration

Many organisations have cracked the code in respect of enabling people to work from home. But few have worked out how to enable their people to ‘home’ from work. For example, can people book doctors’ appointments if they need to, or be trusted to get their work done without clocking in and out?


Very few organisations offer the opportunity to be creative. Perhaps even outside of creative industries, workers could initially be allowed an hour per week to come up with creative ways to improve the company’s offerings or operations.


Management is a delicate art. Micromanagement over utilises the manager and underutilises the employee, while loosening the reins and allowing people to fail is a more effective way to building trust and competence in your people.


Curiosity is the pre-cursor to creativity. Create environments where people can engage with new content, tools and ideas that are core to your market. But also expose them to what is out there in adjacent markets and beyond. This could spark both incremental and radical innovation.


Does your leadership encourage people to explore areas where there is both risk and reward? There is a fine line between courage and recklessness, realising that risk management in the digital age equals risk acquisition, it might be time to define good governance.


Does your organisation have a sense of purpose beyond making a few already rich shareholders even richer? The goal here is to make your corporate social responsibility page your home page. People are more motivated to work for organisations that have a sense of purpose that benefits the wider world.


As we move away from industrial era conveyor belt work, some of us have maintained a minimalist approach to productivity, ie how little work can we get away with. However talented people are proud of their productivity and work better when this is explicitly rewarded.

Allowing these drivers to operate as nature intended would be a good start. In the course of time, word will get around about your radically natural approach to talent management. You will develop a reputation for being talent friendly and this will provide the magnetism needed to attract and retain the best people.

Originally published on ademccormack.com. 

Nine steps to creating a talent-friendly organisation – Ade McCormack

IMI Members can sign up to attend our in-person event, The Cognitive Athlete: Talent Management in an Increasingly Unpredictable World with Ade McCormack  taking place on 26th January at 9.30am, at IMI Sandyford.