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It used to be that talented people expected to have to compromise their talent.

We’ll let that sink in.

It used to be…

OK. Let’s explain.

Talented people in corporations know one thing. They are forced to compromise their ability to do their best work (what comes naturally) day after day. It can be because of a bad boss, inefficient processes, a lack of commitment to corporate mission or the inability to see how their talent will be rewarded in the short and long term.

And it’s that very last bit that we’re focusing on today.

Because the ‘deal’ used to be this: ‘compromise your talent today because in the long run it will play out in a corporate career’. In fact, this is little more than the corporation-as-parent mythology and, at its root, is based on fear. Fear of what? Being unemployed without benefits, having to take risk and be judged upon your performance, to be self-reliant. In that mythology, the bigger the better: bigger salary, bigger title, bigger office, bigger retention, bigger bonus. So, safety used to be the payback for compromise on talent.

And there it is again. Used to be.

Because the promise of payback for compromise has been completely, totally and royally wiped from the map thanks to the economic soufflé currently melting markets the world over.

If the risk we described above is that of not having a corporate parent at our back, then right now, in terms of staying with a company, the risk of staying pretty much looks like the risk of going.

Risk of Staying ~ Risk of Going

Except for talented individuals, the Risk of Going also includes the promise of meaningful work, ownership, accountability, risk and the not insignificant fact that a much greater proportion of any working day is likely to be spent doing what comes naturally – being the glorious, diverse, talented individual they are.

The economic soufflé has finally proven that the endless search for bigger isn’t the be-all-and-end-all.

Corporations used to view retention risk as that of talented individuals going to competitors because of the promise of ‘bigger’. Right now, corporations should be shifting that view.

Because right now, the biggest retention risk is of talent individuals voluntarily leaving the corporation, going free agent to do exactly what they’re already paid to do and selling it to whoever they want.

The war for talent is over… The talent won… And right now, corporations are going to begin to learn that the hard way.