Tenure or Talent?

A talented colleague walked into her staff room just as several tenured workers discussed a recent corporate proposal to consider top talent as equal to tenure in the organization.

Tenure or Talent?

Over my dead body…

- one hardliner snapped – and  others staunchly agreed that talents had no place in discussions – compared to workers who earned tenure.

The idea was that people were promised that tenured workers could count on an assurance of workplace  security.

My question is:

Why do rewards for talent threaten so many tenured workers?

What do you think? Which is best? Will tenure or talent better build cutting edge communities? Workplaces where  innovation and wisdom act as two oars to  row renewal forward? Would love to hear your observations and experiences.

7 Comments

  1. Conrad says:

    Ellen, it seems to me that there is another potential factor here that leads to fear. From my experience, some of the young guns are attractive because of talent – but they are attractive to the company heads also because they start lower on the ladder and cost less. Thus, if the tenured person has talent equal to or slightly above the untenured, even if their experience should tip the scales in their favor, the less expensive person may still be attractive.

    Just thought I ought to toss that in. :-) How have you been? I read your pieces often via RSS even when I can’t get over here.

  2. eweber says:

    Hi Conrad, thanks for lifting up another valid view to the rainbow. We have a long way to go in America to build the kind of caring communities where talent is top and fear is diminished through trust.

    Would you agree trust comes more as we partner to build new ideas together for the benefit of all.

    It can only happen with people like you at the helm – because it involves humans as capital! Thanks for stopping by – we have never been busier or more excited about brain based renewal. You?

  3. Susan Mazza says:

    I think focusing on creating and adding value wherever we go is what it takes to build cutting edge communities. The nature of businesses and the workplace are changing rapidly. Entitlement is a practice of the past that has no place in the future.

    I think rewards for talented workers only threatens people who are counting on their tenure (or whatever status they have attained) rather than motivated to be the best they can be.

    Tenure doesn’t preclude talent. And just because you have talent doesn’t mean you use it well to create value.

  4. eweber says:

    What an amazing look here Susan at key concepts of focus to creating and adding value! Yes, I also agree! Also agree that we are so lucky to have the nature of businesses and the workplace change- some places more rapidly than others – would you agree?

    Glad too that entitlement is a practice of the past – and since it didn’t work well then, who could be surprised “that has no place in the future.”

    Want to reflect further on your incredible insight – that
    tenure doesn’t preclude talent, and that just because you have talent doesn’t mean you use it well to create value. Wow — to heed that is the essence of a well community.

  5. Conrad says:

    “Would you agree trust comes more as we partner to build new ideas together for the benefit of all.”

    Absolutely! It is essential and we have to regain that trust through partnering to solve the challenges of modern existence. Rational thought is a “we” enterprise.

  6. the people who are tenured feel a “we signed up for this and put in our time” this story is one that is held deeply in their belief system.
    Lets look at another example. American Idol.
    Many people in the music industry take issue with the contestants on American Idol being music stars.
    Musicians who “put in the time” (tenured staff) feel that their struggles and the way they come up through the industry playing politics, bureaucracy, etc… made them who they are.
    Then along comes some kid who won a game show (talent) they are not music stars.
    As times change – this view also changes.
    Tenure is and has its reasons for being in place.
    Also how we judge talent is subjective.

  7. eweber says:

    Wow Mike – you sure tossed in another angle that impacts talent and tenure! Reading your examples – compels us to take another look at both sides!

    Too much talent valued too soon can destroy the person who offers it. It reminds me of the prodigal son who squandered an inheritance that was given him in his youth.

    Too much tenure – stagnated or without accountability – can destroy the tenured person and collapse an entire industry that clings to tired or broken systems – and neglects to upgrade for a new era.

    Yikes – what a case for opposing views – stated so well here ya’ all!

    It raises a new question though: When is talent most critical to creative growth and when is tenure the best segues into innovative growth?

    Seems to me the answer to that question is the critical key to sustainable brilliance in today’s marketplace. You?

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