• Chris Thierfelder

My Team's on the Floor

I'm not entirely sure why it was newsworthy that Google has a two-tiered approach to talent management. It certainly seemed to make a splash in some quarters, but no one I know who is actually in industry seemed to think it was a big deal.

That's because EVERYONE has a two-tiered system when managing talent. One for FTEs (those are full-time employees) and one for everyone else. That "everyone else" can include vendors, contractors, consultants; basically everyone who doesn't get a paycheck with the corporate logo in the upper left hand corner.

Everyone does it, but Google--in classic big-company boneheadedness--said the quiet part out loud and actually developed guidelines that were published and distributed.

(Side note: spare a thought for the Human Resources Consultant who's job it was to write this down and publish it, and then make sure everyone had read and understood it. We'll do a series on bullshit jobs soon, I promise.)

I have run several functional departments, and managed more projects and programs than I can remember, and I have yet to see a team that consisted entirely of FTEs. It is an inescapable fact that temporary talent--regardless of the form it takes--is indispensable to companies large and small and without a robust temporary talent marketplace, much of what needs to get done wouldn't get done.

Further, look at what we're bringing in consultants and contractors and vendors to do. It's not the rote, mature processes that need managing. Most firms keep managing their installed base (of products, processes, customers, whatever) through their FTEs with years of experience and validated methods. It's too expensive to teach someone else to do that.

No--that external talent pool is being brought in for innovation, design, new sales method training, massive capital projects, strategic development and on and on. In essence, we are relying on a flexible talent pool (a set number of FTEs that doesn't change much year over year AND pool of external talent that can expand or shrink quickly, as needed) to grow our companies and return value to our stakeholders.

This business of treating one group as somehow not fully members of the team is baffling, shortsided, and frankly stupid. It costs you next to nothing to treat your flex staff with the same level of dignity and espirit de corps as you do your FTEs. Doing so builds team unity and engagement from ALL of your employees and in turn results in more effective projects and better outcomes.

Finally, flexible talent systems are a great training and trial ground for your next FTE expansion. If you treat those people as "less than" while they're giving you their best effort, why would they join you full-time when you have positions to fill? Thinking a few steps ahead, and simply treating people like the valuable individuals they are isn't difficult, and reaps rewards for the cost of a t-shirt.

If you'd like help in understanding how a flexible talent pool can work more efficiently for you, click the "Learn More" button on the Contact Page.

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