Six fearless talent choices that HR has to make in times of BANI

today2022.04.14. 2825 1 5


Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress

COVID-19 and the current challenges have taught us to be strong and brave whatever the world pushes at us. HR and talent leaders, more than ever, need to make fearless talent choices to get the best out of people.

90% of business leaders are indicating that their businesses suffer from skills shortages, retention, or hiring issues. 46% of employees are planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months. The World has changed from Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) to Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensive (BANI).2 As we live in fearful times where certainty is a new certainty, Dave Forman indicates that HR has to make six fearless talent choices to help businesses to grow to succeed in the marketplace. 1

On 7 April 2022, the global HR community had a great conversation with Dave Forman who is the author of Fearless HR and Fearless talent choices, Lisbeth Claus (Professor in HR and Sociology), Maria Wurzer (From Personio– A leading HR technology firm) and Mihaly Nagy ( Managing Director for the HR Congress). The webinar was entitled, Talent @ Work: Reimagining Talent Management in the new, Hybrid World of Work”  – with a particular focus on how to manage talent in challenging and uncertain times. 1

Dave Forman indicated that during these stressful times, we need to be Fearless. We need to make fearless talent choices to get the best out of people. Dave gave a quote from Professor Ram Charan which indicates that to succeed and grow in an economy that has decimated predictability, your company must take three critical moves to unleash talent. 

  1. Your most vital people must be in roles where they can create significant value
  2. Your most critical talent must be freed from bureaucratic structures designed for a different era
  3. Your most important employees must be afforded the chance to learn and expand their skills. 

Several forces have decimated predictability. Even though the world is moving from the great resignation towards the great escape, economic environments remain inflationary, slow-moving business, COVID 19 damaged, brittle and gripped with social unrest. COVID 19 taught us that we could not fold our hands in fear of what will happen tomorrow. COVID 19 and the current challenges have taught us to be strong and fearless at whatever the world pushes at us.3

The six fearless talent choices1

  1. Business-driven

As indicated by the father of modern HR, Professor Dave Ulrich, “The business of HR is the business.” HR should be fearless and align the HR agenda with that of the business.4 The business agenda is the HR agenda and that should drive talent choices that are to be made in these times of uncertainty. In times of noise, it is difficult to focus. In these times of change, we should align and Focus our talent on the business. 

Key outcomes of talent management should be linked with key business outcomes such as revenue, customer retention, and profitability. “We should look at the business impact and be able to monetize it. If we accomplish something that saves time, you can take those time savings and convert them to money.” It is also critical for HR to develop a job impact model that creates a sense of purpose for talent in the companies. Your talent must be able to understand what they do and why it matters, why they do it and the downside of what they do. They should be able to see the bigger picture of their jobs and why they matter to the business. 

  1. Lead-time Ahead

We live in a time of BANI where business is no longer business as usual. It is thus key for businesses to be able to always be ahead of time. It is always critical for a business to be able to be prepared for the future. It is important to conduct scenario planning for at least three years. Upon identifying possible scenarios, talent practitioners must pick critical skills that the workforce needs to have to be ready for the future. If the skills talented practitioners should make a fearless choice to source and or develop such skills so that the business will be future-ready.

  1. Force Multiplier

The workforce multiplier is concerned with how to improve the workplace to enrich the workforce. The model was developed by Professor Dave Forman after years of research. It helps HR to drive results through effective talent management choices.  The model bundles up several key talent practices such as Purpose, job contribution, growth opportunities, flexibility and choice, collaborative networks, meaningful touch points and recognition, personal balance, embracing culture, and serendipity. All these working together in an environment of trust and transparency can help multiply the impact of talent on key business outcomes such as revenue, market share, growth, and profit. 1

  1. Network builder 

Another fearless talent choice to make is being a network builder. Talent practitioners should be network builders who help individuals and teams to move away from being individualistic but be more team-focused. As indicated by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, “Going forward, we are thinking about productivity in an organization as being defined by the combination of collaboration, learning, and well-being.” The sum of the individual is greater than an individual. If team members work together in an organization, one can provide four times much value working in a team than as an individual.  Together, we can achieve greater things. Work is now indeed a team sport. More than 80% of work today is being done in cross-functional teams. 1

  1. Business–based accountability 

Accountability that is focused on the business is critical for success. Quite often we do not get the right results because we are not held accountable for our actions. If we do not get the right results, who should we approach? Business-focused accountability provides a sense of purpose and direction to individuals, teams, and organizations. It is the role of Talent practitioners to make a fearless choice of giving people working in organizations accountability and responsibility for their actions. 

  1. Economy 4.0: Promise and Peril 

We are now operating in economy 4.0 where change, technology, speed, agility, pace, and excellence dominates the way of doing business.6 In this new digital world, there is a lot of transformation and strategic change that is happening in companies. We have seen driverless cars finally on the streets, AI is now dominating in key business functions, cloud computing is now the in thing and autonomous robots are now driving impact. 6 In such an economy HR has a role to play in transforming businesses. HR plays a pivotal role in up-skilling and reskilling staff, restructuring, and realignment of businesses, attracting the right talent, retaining the right talent, and managing innovation. It is a time of promise and peril which requires HR to make fearless talent choices. 

In conclusion, HR and talent leaders must be fearless. The world we operate in is dominated by uncertainty. The more fearless, we are the more confident we become in being able to make a great escape. As we are fearful, it is always important to take calculated risks. Be fearless!


1Talent@Work – Reimagining Talent Management, by HR Congress

2Facing the Age of Chaos, by Jamais Cascio, Medium

3Leading@Work – Reimagining Leadership and Coaching for results by The HR Congress

4Next Generation HR, by Dave Ulrich, The RBL Group

5The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here- are you ready?, by Deloitte Insights, Deloitte

6Using autonomous robots to drive supply chain and innovation: A series exploring Industry 4.0 technologies and their potential impact for enabling digital supply networks in manufacturing, by Joseph Fitzgerald and Evan Quasney

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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Post comments (1)

  1. David C Forman on 2022.04.15.

    Thank you so much Farai for this excellent summary. I really appreciate it and I hope ofthers find it useful.

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