A Lack of HR Talent, postscript

Well, that was interesting.

Four weeks ago, I published my last blog post, expressing just a weeeee bit of frustration over what I’ve perceived as a shallow HR talent pool. I also posited a couple of theories as to what might be contributing to this lack of talented Talent folks. At the time, I knew it was a bit edgier post than my usual stuff.

But I didn’t anticipate quite the reaction I received. More people read that post than when Riot hit #13 on Fortune’s “Best Place to Work” list, for goodness’ sake, and the essay-length comments from all sides of the debate raged for two weeks. Clearly, I hit a nerve.

Then, unfortunately, I also hit a buzzsaw month of work. See, I only set aside ninety minutes each week for my blog–an hour to write and thirty minutes to edit and publish it. If something else eats into my ninety minutes, I lose my window and the blog has to wait another week. Apologies that my postscript comes so long after the original brouhaha.

I’m not even going to try and summarize the many comments nor react to them. Suffice it to say, I thought the debate my post sparked was excellent and I enjoyed the diverse perspectives from HR leaders, academics, consultants, other professionals, and students. If you took the time to weigh in over the past month, thank you. In a lot of ways, the comments paint a far richer picture of what’s going on in HR than my original post.

On only one point did I feel misunderstood. I want to make it clear that I said we are experiencing a shallow pool of HR talent. Somehow some people thought I meant that no talented HR people exist. I’ve worked in excellent functions and had truly outstanding colleagues throughout my career. In my experience, however, finding good HR people is simply tougher than finding good other-kinds-of-people (and finding those who are also gamers is even more difficult!). And I maintain that I don’t think it’s a sourcing or recruiting issue, but rather an insufficient pipeline of talent that is and will continue to lead to a lack of quality HR leaders.

Enough of rehashing my argument, though. What’s really cool is that my postscript to that little rant is a hopeful one. Here are three excellent–and surprising–outcomes from my last blog entry…

First, since the post I’ve received almost two dozen impassioned cover letters of people wanting to work at Riot Games on the Talent team, people who take their craft seriously and who want to be part of building a better future. I admit I’d hoped to create a bit of a recruiting beacon through my post, but it worked a lot better than I had anticipated. We’ve found some interesting individuals from this bunch and may end up getting a hire or two out of my mischievous pot-stirring. Cool. For someone still building out the function, this is a terrific outcome.

Second, many many previous colleagues have reached out to me to reconnect. This was a consequence I hadn’t expected, and it’s been wonderful. A ton of those aforementioned outstanding colleagues apparently share my frustration, and we’ve found an excuse to swap stories. I have almost a year’s worth of coffee, phonecalls, and lunches waiting for me now (and apologies to everyone who wrote and is still waiting for a response… see the earlier point regarding my buzzsaw month. I’ll respond! um…eventually). Because of Riot’s growth and pace, I’d become pretty insular this past year. It’s terrific to feel more interconnected with old friends.

Finally, my post sparked a lot of conversation within my existing Talent team. Maybe I’m naive, but this conversation has both surprised and delighted me. Members of my team are thoughtfully considering how to deepen their craft expertise and how to take a more analytic lens to our work. I’ve been absolutely thrilled that a couple of them are volunteering to put some thought into what building an “HR academy” at Riot might entail. Apparently I can not only complain about problems, but also be part of the solution.


So basically, I’m pleased as punch (yes, eventually I get curious about the etymology of a phrase) with the anthill my critical post seems to have kicked over. I’m sure that this is a topic to which I’ll return periodically when I have something new to say.

For now, expect me to continue to meander through topics related to HR, the games industry, Riot’s weird-and-wonderful culture, and my own journey into League of Legends, with no discernable pattern whatsoever. In turn, please keep the thoughtful comments and discussion coming.

Have a great week!


One thought on “A Lack of HR Talent, postscript

  1. Dee

    Hi, Jay,

    Although I didn’t post to your blog, I found your original post quite provocative and I used it to spark a phone discussion with John Boudreau and an email discussion with Bill MacGowan, both of which I’ve enjoyed. You dropped a pebble into the pond and it defied gravity by generating circles in multiple directions. Thanks.


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