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DEEP THOUGHTS: Are Great Places to Work Holding Back Talent Development?

In the wake of the New York Times article on Amazon, I thought it would be worth sharing the past post by Redfin CEO Glen Kelman, who wonders aloud if all the fun, benefit focused features of the GPTW actually hinders employee development:

"The problem is that the young engineers earning that much become well-fed farm animals at the very moment in their lives when they should be running like wild horses. Many now remind me of middle-aged men, collecting expensive scotch or taking up John-Kerry hobbies like kite-surfing and race-car-driving at the age of 24.

What changes these folks isn’t just the money. It’s the cosseting, which can permeate the most minute interactions between engineers and their mentors. If you as a manager have spent all day wooing new hires, you aren’t likely to turn around and tell a young engineer on your team how much more she is capable of, even if this is just what she needs to hear.

This is why Silicon Valley’s War for Talent hasn’t always been good for the talent. After all, the only way to get much better at your craft is to be challenged in ways that make you uncomfortable. Yet not many people in high technology are uncomfortable these days."

So, I know what you're saying - the concept of the Great Place to Work transcends all the fun stuff, right?  Well, that's true, so I loved this quote as a reminder of what's easy and what's hard related to building a GPTW.  Writing a check for benefits, great workspace and more is actually the easy part.

The hard part?  Creating a culture of feedback that gives brutal, yet constructive guidance to talent as it boots up in your organization.

Easy to do, hard to say, right?  Build the features of the GPTW that are visible, but don't forgot about the hard stuff. 


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