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It is better
to not be on
the web than
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not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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(December 29, 2003) - Building teams for sustained competitive advantage will be the underlying thrust of workforce management activities during the coming year. The hiring pace will heat up slowly, driving unemployment rates closer to 5.5% by election time. Things will become somewhat more competitive but the focus will be on team optimization.

During the holiday lull, it might be a good time to read Moneyball if it didn't make your list earlier in the year. It's a story about picking players who optimize the team instead of choosing them for 'star' qualities. Great workforce management teams will be thinking about methods for extracting every last bit of productivity from the existing team. Hiring decisions that can be shown to offer high returns on investment will be the ones that get made.

Focused retention approaches are at the heart of winning talent management strategies. General policies work for the 80% of the workforce that generates 20% of the value. Flexible and customized tools are required for the other 20%. Look for increasingly better quantitative tools for decision making over the course of the year.

Retention will be the buzzword as organizations brace themselves for the combination of lower unemployment and demographic change. Although high intensity won't really be on the map until 2005, we'll see hot spots of hiring competition in areas with already low unemployment. For the major population centers, however, keeping the right ones will be a higher priority than acquiring the additions.

There will certainly be a good deal of sniping about "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic". Team optimization requires trying out the same players in different positions before any new hires are added to the mix. Expect to see reorganizations everywhere you look. Effectively executed, they can be the front line of retention efforts for the 20%.

Recruiters who stand by narrow definitions of their jobs will be under the microscope. We'd suggest aligning with key hiring decision makers and becoming a part of their effort to revisualize the organization. Get them a copy of Moneyball and start the conversation.

John Sumser

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