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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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The Artists II

(January 27, 2004) - Often, HR Departments view the Artists as problems to be solved. Using terms like "prima donna" and "high-performer", their efforts seem to be devoted to bringing performance back down towards the mediocrity of the rest of the workforce. Unable to appreciate or distinguish the value delivered by the organization's key assets, HR joins with other administrative forces in trying to build fences around the key player's efforts.

Artists are a disruptive influence on organizational status quo. In the extreme cases, they are the heretics who provide ultimate conscience and direction for the core group. In more natural settings, they grind out the long hours for the love of the challenge, responsibility and autonomy. In today's employment environment, their tenure is uncertain and resembles patronage in medieval times. They work at the pleasure of the Core Group.

Turnover is higher is some parts of the Artist Group. Initiators, the people who start businesses, envision them and lay out their first successes almost never succeed as the operators of long term enterprises. An organization must have consistent growth and adjustment demands in order to keep job satisfaction high. Otherwise, these proposal experts, business plan developers, product designers and inventors and software development pros move on to pastures where the intoxication of growth is the substitute for adequate compensation (not to suggest that they come inexpensively in the first place).

For every strength, there is an accompanying weakness.

This view of human nature is a necessary filter when dealing with the artists. They are the group of people for whom creation and the work that surrounds it is the ultimate reward. While they certainly have their eye on capital and compensation, it is the challenge that motivates them. They would rather move on gracefully than be bored.

Retaining them requires individualized time and attention. An additional capital investment in the latest professional toolset will go further than a raise. A budget increase coupled with the authority to get things done will solve many a planned departure. Control of a project is an often sought prize.

Any old clone with the right quantitative credentials simply will not do. Hiring Artists is an art in itself. You may learn more about them by evaluating their childhood than by investigating their current occupation. They tend to be round pegs in square holes as a matter of professional pride. For HR Recruiters to make a strategic difference, a clear, unfettered understanding of the job, its real politics and the real opportunities is essential.

The key with Artists is understanding their work. No statistical formulas will enable a company to build an adequate stable or keep it maintained at full strength. For this segment of the employee population, Recruiting and Retention are custom work.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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