Nurturing Talent with JoAnn Corley and Jason Barger

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2, TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversations with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and who have the cultural mindset to embrace the need diversity of the workplace.

Today’s guests are JoAnn Corley, Founder and CEO of The Human Sphere and Jason Barger, Author, Speaker and Consultant at Step Back Leadership Consulting, LLC. To hear the entire show, click here.

On the show today, two seasoned HR consultants speak to talent management, fostering creativity and developing people.

JoAnn Corley nurturing talent

JoAnn first launched her own consultancy in 1998, having been in the human resources field long enough to see it evolve. Currently she is focused on harnessing the latest shifts in HR in order to better serve her clients for the world of here and now.

Having been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in HR, Corley feels that the role of a HR professional remains a critical one. She first fell in love with the field when she was a recruiter with a boutique recruiting firm in Chicago. She loved being able to connect people with work, ultimately placing people in a job where they thrive and benefiting both, the individual and the company.

Impacting Lives, Impacting the Economy

“It helps people get a meaning and purpose in life that is beyond just collecting paychecks. That really inspires and motivates me,” she shares. On the company side, she feels that recruiters help feed the country’s economic engine by enabling the employment process. “We carry a great influence in the economy. We have a lot of power because we make or break the company in many ways by the way we hire and the way we support the culture. All of this eventually impacts the economy. That’s kind of a big deal!” she explains passionately. She sums up her passion for the profession by sharing that she sees HR people as serving the community, helping the economy and indirectly supporting the growth of the country.

Changing Face of Recruiting

Corley strongly believes that HR professionals need to rethink talent acquisition. In today’s day and age they need to hire beyond the job description. It amazes her that some HR people still continue to use only the job description and basic interview questions while sourcing candidates. They need to consider the holistic experience, preferred behavior of the candidate, cultural fit and so on. Sometimes even strong past experience does nothing for a company if the person doesn’t fit into the company’s culture.

She also mentions that hiring managers often make assumptions that because a person did a particular job in the past, they will be good at it in the future; and because a person did a particular job in the past they enjoy doing it–but that’s not always the case. Hiring managers often interpret the resumes based on the experience of the candidate. Sometimes those interpretations don’t really match what the candidates actually experienced. Thus, Corley says that first and foremost it’s necessary for hiring managers to understand the assumptions and biases they bring to the table while meeting with a candidate. They should do everything possible to minimize those assumptions to take a really fresh look at the person, who goes well beyond their own resume.

Brain on Fire

“Creative and innovative thinking is a gateway to solutions for a host of challenges in a company. It fuels diversity, employee engagement, collaboration, leadership and influence, problem solving, staying relevant in the marketplace and several other aspects,” explains Corley. She believes that people are scared of it because they don’t know what to do with it. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding creativity which makes it very overwhelming for most people. She explains that people are often creative in ways they don’t even fully know of. They often get those ah-ha moments when they figure out a solution to a problem, which is in fact their creativity at work. In our day-to-day lives, we often solve so many problems with solutions that are really creative without realizing it. Corley delves deeper into this topic in her book, “Brain on Fire: Unleashing Your Creative Superpowers.”

What Are You Reading?

JoAnn Corley is currently reading “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others” by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas. The book helps managers become better coaches and also explores the power of asking questions as a coaching methodology.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with JoAnn via or or follow her on Twitter at @JoAnnCorley.

Jason Barger nurturing talent

Jason Barger is an author and a global speaker on developing people, as well as corporate culture, mission, vision and values. Among the biggest trends in HR he’s observing is that everyone is redefining what culture means within a team and organization. In the past, culture meant having a ping pong table in the office or wearing jeans to work on Friday. Barger feels that people are now getting more sophisticated about defining culture–consciously thinking about the kind of culture they want to have and how that is reflected in the way they think, act and interact with each other.

Engaging Holistically

Barger believes that organizations focus a lot on a person’s work. “The element that is missing the most in today’s workplaces is the human element,” he says. They are so focused on getting things done and driving results that the appreciation and development of a person gets side-tracked. Barger strongly believes that an organization is a collection of human beings and they need to be valued. In the course of his work, he doesn’t help people get better at their business, although that is an outcome eventually; instead, he helps them engage their minds and hearts to think differently about things they already do. In his opinion, the best organizations are the ones that acknowledge human beings, honor their individuality and develop them holistically. In the process, people often end up being better at what they do.

Bringing About Change via Conversation

For companies who have trouble bringing about a change or shifting focus to their employees, Barger has some advice! He shares one of his favorite quotes: “Conversation is the currency for change.” “Whether it’s leadership development, creating a better culture or getting clarity about the mission, vision and values, a conversation around what is missing and what change you’d like to achieve is necessary,” he explains. It is important to first define what leadership means to an individual or what a company means by culture and then focus on the desired results. Involving the right people in their conversations and getting their opinions is also crucial in order to achieve the desired change. Having all of them packed in a room with information thrown at them is not the right way to do it. It has to be engaging and interactive so that key players feels involved in the process and can contribute toward achieving the goal at hand.

A Once-a-Year Offsite is Not Leadership Development

Often, companies organize one -off leadership training sessions once a year and assume that they’re doing enough to develop their employees. However, according to Barger, companies that are getting leadership development right and are doing it really well are the ones who realize it’s an ongoing process. They don’t stick to the once in a year training program model. They actually believe in developing their people. They have clarity on the type of leadership and the type of leader they’re trying to create. It’s a long-term commitment that helps one become a great leader.

What Are You Reading?

Barger is currently reading Checklist Manifestoby Atul Gawande. The book shows what the simple idea of the checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Jason via his website at or via LinkedIn.