Leveraging Talent for Organizational Success

By Jacqueline Kuhn, Executive Vice President Strategic Services, HRchitect

Jacqueline Kuhn, Executive Vice President Strategic Services, HRchitect

Talent Management as a business process is at a crossroads. Maybe calling it “Talent Management” is partly the issue. When something is managed usually it means that it is being controlled, and most will agree controlling the workforce is exactly what Talent Management is not about. It is about giving the workforce what they need to help themselves and the organization succeed.

Talent processes today need to focus on assessing employees and their skills and abilities, recognizing their contributions and developing them so they have what is needed to meet the organization’s goals and objectives.

A recent study conducted by The Starr Conspiracy revealed that 46% of HCM Technology buyers believe the traditional performance review is a waste of time.

How much of this is due to how the technology drove a process and not the actual act of conducting a review?

The focal performance review process was in great measure developed by the Talent Management software vendors who found an underserved market as HR was looking for tools to help them become more strategic. However, these processes were developed 18 years ago from a mindset that did not have the information about how people communicate today. The goal of the Talent Management application suite was to automate a cumbersome manual paper process. There was no text messaging, Facebook, Twitter etc. 18 years ago and no one knew how quickly instant feedback would be adopted in the workplace, let alone the proliferation of digital technology.

New processes and technology are needed for the new way of working and communicating.

According to Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends study, today’s workers expectations differ than workers 10+ years ago. They expect their work to be meaningful, expect to obtain continuous feedback and expect their employers to give them development opportunities that allow for personal and professional growth.

The challenge faced by every HR Leader is how to blend the worker expectations and organizational needs to deliver a process that works for both with supporting technology. The new trend is for talent review processes and supporting technology to contain the following components:

• Catch them at being good – at the moment feedback is most impactful: People learn what to do and how to behave based on feedback they are given. The longer the time between the event and the feedback, the lesser the message or impact of the feedback. When an employee does something good, recognizing this immediately both reinforces the behavior and rewards the behavior. Managers need to become good at giving positive feedback. Mobile tools like instant messaging help them to do this and track the feedback given so it can later be referenced in formal review processes.

• Feedback is 2-way: Today’s worker expects the companies they work for to give them opportunities and want their work to be meaningful. The performance conversation needs to be as much about listening to what the employee has to say about what they want as it is the manager talking to them about what the company expects of them. The technology must also support a 2-way conversation and ideally have easy access to development opportunities (mobile Learning Management System) so the manager and employee can build the development plan at time of conversation.

• Redefine goal setting: Goals need to be relatable to the employee and focused on what the department / team needs to accomplish to achieve overall company objectives. Additionally, everyone in a department / team should have goals that are aligned to each other. It is critical for everyone on the team to have the same overall goal, just contribute to it in ways meaningful to them and their job. Take for example the New England Patriots, they have one goal - to win championships. Everyone on the team has an individual role and goal to contribute to the achievement, but people in the same position may have different goals as they may have development needs others do not have. However, in the end, all goals lead to one thing: winning the championship.

• Develop good coaches: For the conversations to change, Managers need to be coaches. A coach’s #1 objective is to guide the team to success and make sure they have all the tools, training and skills to carry out the assignment. Additionally, millennials and gen Z’ers are entering management / supervisory ranks without the set of “soft skills” to coach. Learning technology must be in place with just in time training and tools to help managers in coaching situations.

• Assessment of Competencies & Skills: The key to talent planning is understanding the skills and competencies that are needed by the company and each job. This requires processes and tools that create / store / track job descriptions that contain what is required to perform the job and a process and set of assessment tools that assess employee proficiency in demonstrated use of these competencies and skills. These tools need to be in the hands of managers, available for coaching sessions and transparent to the employee so they can own and track their own progress towards obtaining these skills.

• Separate the performance conversation from the compensation: Many organizations are moving to a market pay philosophy and while people do need to perform their job and achieve their goals, the direct connection between pay and performance is removed and the 2 conversations are occurring separately. However, when the compensation plan is merit based and directly tied to a performance review score, there is a tendency to have both conversations at the same time. Doing this however, lessens the impact of the performance discussion. To have meaningful performance and development discussions, the pay components need to be discussed at a different time and advisably after the performance conversation and the technology must be able to support this cadence.

To meet the expectations and new ways of working, it is up to human resources to design a new set of talent strategies and processes. Frequent communication between employees and their managers, establishing meaningful goals and the development of skills and competencies must be at the core of these new processes. Technology will need to be mobile, provide direct access to managers and employees and allow unencumbered access to all information needed to guide, coach and develop employees. And maybe, we need to just stop calling it “Talent Management”.

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