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

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

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The Artists

(January 26, 2004) - When you hear people talking about "talent", they're usually referring to the group of people who actually accomplish the goals and expectations of the Core Group. We call them the artists because of the way that they are able to blend personal autonomy and organizational accomplishment. Seen as "talent", they are viewed through the lens of their potential. Described as artists, the focus is on their accomplishment, the fact that they have the "juice".

If 20% of the people produce 80% of the results, that 20% is composed of the Core Group and the Artists. They are at the heart of the very definition of the organization and its impact. Sandwiched between the top and the bottom, Artists are responsible for adaptation, innovation, growth, alignment, realignment and so on. Their ranks are composed of administrative assistants, senior engineers, organizational "fellows", key middle managers, producers, project managers, key field people, sales stars, marketing geniuses and so on.

They make the impossible possible; they chart the path that makes hard work repeatable. They operate at the intersections of the organization. Their job descriptions are nearly impossible to articulate. In many ways, they are the organization.

It is rare that an HR professional encounters them, they are too busy getting things done and often operate well beyond the normal channels. It is even rarer that an HR player is a part of the Artists camp. HR people are usually part of the defensive team. The Artists are always on the offense.

Artists are often miserable administrators. Look for piles of receipts where an expense report should be. Expect unfilled time cards. Anticipate unsatisfying MBO conversations. The bulk of great administrative performance is all about squeezing productivity from the other 80%. Somehow, there is never enough time for the Artists to play by the internal rules. It's the key paradox: the organization's success and future depends on players who are bad at administrivia.

Most HR systems (from payroll and expenses to staffing, retention and recruiting) focus on the 80%. Everyone expects exemptions for the Core Group. It's usually a little harder to swallow the treatment differences required by the Artists. They thrive on challenge, overwhelming responsibility, immediacy and intensity. Systems that impose the regularity needed by the other 80% stifle the intense productivity of the Artists.

Tomorrow: Recruiting and Retaining Artists.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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