Thursday, November 3, 2011

Give Talented People Swimming in Pools the Consciousness to Become Communicating Communities

Yes, that's a long headline and a wee bit too much unintended alliteration, but stay with me.

On Wednesday night, the weekly #TChat delved into figuring out and defining just what talent pools and talent communities are, and whether or not they're even the same thing (they're not—more on this, read on). Teeming with energy, the discussion featured a few participants' particularly apt stabs at those definitions. First off, allow me to add the tweet that I couldn't, because I must be somewhere else, away from Twitter, every Wednesday evening (insert sad emoticon?):

@brentskinner: Talented people swim in pools. Give them consciousness. Help them recognize that they in fact comprise communicating communities. #TChat

There you go, just 138 characters with spaces, hashtag and all (and slightly cheesy). If I had more than 140 characters—like I do, right now—I'd elaborate:

The two, talent pools and talent communities, are discrete. Furthermore, a talent community thrives on back-and-forth communication, and recruiters like this aspect of talent communities because it means they can reach the very best, often passive candidates with just the right, highly attractive and well-matched job opportunities. But talent pools aren't to be identified and targeted for the sole purpose of being turned into talent communities that become a source of potential employees. Yes, that's a big part of their value, but they'll never yield that value till organizations cultivate them just for the sake of doing so—for the rainy day, later, when those communities will come in handy. You see, for those in talent pools to feel a warm sense of community, they must feel like a community intuitively, not something that exists merely to be exploited. Then, and only then, will they become reliable sources of not only candidates, but also thoughts and ideas that lead to the spontaneous collaboration, networking and referring that are of such value to HR.

But let's set all that aside for the moment. At nailing down just what talent pools are vs. talent communities, others took stabs far superior to mine. For cogency, try @bncarvin's:

How would a talent community organically develop without many-to-many communication, after all? Exactly: It wouldn't.

Then there was @AutumnMcRey's take, which marries the importance of communication with the notion of being long-term—that talent communities aren't just for sourcing:

@TheOneCrystal expanded on @AutumnMcRey's tweet:

That conflates communities and pools a bit too much for my liking. Are we talking about shallow communities, instead? Maybe, but still, @TheOneCrystal's expansion on all this is really good.

Perhaps we're discussing something that begs for more than one tweet, because in just two tweets, @robgarciasj did an exceptional job Wednesday night of capturing the essence of the question at hand:

Yes, there's that pesky assumption that a talent community's raison dt̂ere is to serve the needs of hiring and retaining talent. But is it so bad that we're fixated on this aspect of talent communities? It's called #TChat, The World of Work, for crying out loud! Cut all these smart people some slack.

They're both important, by the way, these talent pools and talent communities. It's just that, to be of use to HR, one follows the other. Let's amalgamate all these ideas and take things a step further, for clarity:

If you're discussing talent pools as an end goal to be achieved, you're still in the abstract, baby. Furthermore, if you really want to benefit from the online environment's ability to bring more people who are more talented to your organization, you must never again replace the word "people" with "talent," and you must instead think of the candidates you want as "talented people." And, then, you need to go to the pools where these talented people swim and give them consciousness so that they may realize that they are, indeed, a potential community. Engage and interact with them in order to start building, fostering and nurturing communities of talented people.

You know what? I'm in a deconstructive train of thought. As you engage and interact with the talented people whose pools you visit in order to show them that they could be a talent community, don't think of yourselves as engaging and interacting. That's sterile. But certainly have conversations with them—long-term conversations, the kind that residents of actual communities have with their neighbors all the time.