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Are you worth the investment?

In my post about the new definition of value describing the significance of the intangibles, defined as an investors' confidence in the differential capacity of leadership teams to learn, adapt and innovate ahead of the competition in order to optimize customer relevance, experience and advocacy, quality, value differentiation, surprise and delight, when it comes to a conversation about winning the war for top talent we must take an expansive view of the word investor.

Classically, an investor is a person, internal or external, who allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return. However, in this discussion, while I am certain we can agree that employees are stakeholders, can we go so far as calling them investors? I would encourage you to do so.

Top talent have options. They can go anywhere just as a traditional financial investor has practically endless options since their resource, cash, is in high demand globally. The pursuit of both is the best company to place their capital. In the case of talent, that capital takes the form of time, ideas, energy, and reputation, among other assets. Quite often, the accumulation of these assets come at great cost to top talent and are viewed as their most precious resources. They know that invested wisely they can produce great returns.

There is also the consideration of opportunity cost. There are a few definitions that could apply here, but the one I think fits best is the difference in return between a chosen investment and one that is necessarily passed up. Meaning, will talent that chooses to work with you be better off than had they chosen to go elsewhere? They must be willing to give up returns elsewhere to seek returns with you. Therefore, ask yourself a tough question if you plan to win this war (which I will posit is not an option, because you must win if you plan to achieve your goals)...

Are you worth the investment of top talent?

(pause here and take a moment to answer this question and tell yourself why you answered the way you did, especially if you say 'yes')

The answer lies in your understanding of what motivates top talent, both financial and non-financial. To get to the real meat here, let's stipulate that as long as the pay is competitive and there is reason to believe that you won't miss a payroll (as is the case for any viable business), then you can take the financial variable out of the equation. Therefore, the answer to the question of whether or not you (and your organization) are worth the investment comes down to non-financial factors or what I prefer to call intrinsic rewards or, better yet, psychic income. These are the soft side factors, which I write begrudgingly since these are often the harder variables to master, or the intangibles of leadership and company culture. Things like collaboration, innovation, trust and commitment. Do employees feel valued and engaged? As stakeholders, is the business relevant to them in achieving one or more of their personal and professional goals?

As a leader, this must be among your top priorities. You and your leadership team must clearly and consistently communicate through word and action that this type of cultural mastery matters and is worth investment of company resources. I consider this the ultimate leadership challenge if you expect to recruit and retain the best of the best, thereby winning the war for top talent.

Fear not, AvalonBridge is here and will help you win using proven practices in a systematic and disciplined manner getting you to operational results quickly. Be a leader. Please send an email to to start the conversation or call 703-665-9641.

Take care of your investors. They can and will leave you if you don't continually demonstrate your ability to learn, adapt and innovate ahead of the competition. The global competition for top talent is only heating up. In my next post I will share a great TED talk with you that does a rather good job of outlining this challenge defined by the presenter, Rainer Strack, as the global workforce crisis of 2030. It’ll be here before you know it.


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