The term “war for talent” has been subsumed into the business lexicon since its introduction 20 years ago. This “war” rages on and it appears that we are no closer to winning any battles. In fact, I have written about it here. But a new book by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential, takes a deep dive into the topic and articulates why the hiring and retention processes in many companies are broken.

Premuzic goes so far as to say that the war for talent has actually morphed into a war on talent. Instead of attracting, managing, and developing professional individuals, companies are mismanaging and thereby repelling them. They base their decision making on intuitive, bias-driven interviews and unclearly defined job roles. After the person is hired and not succeeding 6 months down the road, it becomes an unhappy workplace for the employee and the wrong fit for the employer. However, the cycle will keep going because changes are not being made to fix the problem. And it is likely that people are not even aware that the interview process is where the problem begins.

The answer, Premuzic says, is to use data to measure performance and make the right hires. For example, performance data can be a vital metric, but many companies do not have access to or do not track it. Thus, companies must ask: what are the data points I need to collect, and what tools can I use to evaluate that data? For example, if you had the performance data, you could utilize that, along with a rigorous and psychologically-based assessment process that identifies employees’ strengths and weaknesses. This process of evaluation could be transferred to the hiring process and an assessment 6-9 months later of new hire performance.

There is a great deal of apathy among professionals, in part because companies are not adept at using these individuals’ skills and experience. Thus, employees are disengaged and passive job hunters. Premuzic says that the key to increasing engagement is to make people feel they are making an impact. Unlimited vacation time and perks are not nearly as important as knowing your work has contributed directly to the company’s success. While data doesn’t appear interesting, Premuzic argues, it is the very foundation of a company’s success in leveraging their biggest asset: people.

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