Posts tagged ‘Talent Management’
The HR Partner role (the HR generalist) is very much in vogue. Everywhere I look (here in Northern Europe) this model is being applied. In fact, over the last five years the title “HR Partner” has probably received a bit of a mini-revival again. It is cool to be a HR Partner theses days.
The introduction of the HR Partner model was right and welcome when it was introduced 20 years ago. HR had built ivory towers in company headquarters and did not know what was going on in the business. Managers and leaders did not feel that HR understood or even cared about what the company was about. They felt that HR was all about creating big processes and programs that did not match the business need. So a change was good. And in stepped Dave Ulrich and with him the HR Partner model. The pendulum began to swing back towards the generalist.
Now I believe things are about to change again. Why? Simply, because they have to. And because new trends are emerging which requires HR specialists to do the job. 20 years ago the structure of HR did not match the need of the business. I think the same is true again.
Many companies have hired HR Partners while downsizing HR specialists. The HR Partner is a generalist who is moved out in the business as close as possible to the unit-manager. The idea is that the partner should be the right hand man/woman to the function leader. The job itself is a mix of administrative and tactical work with a hint of strategic work in some (often rare) cases. The result: HR is now close to the business and is visible to the rest of the organization. But at the same time they must master everything HR related. They are jack of all trades.
This will change.
I don’t think that things will go back to the old. It never does. And nor should it. But specialists are needed. New and important trends are emerging which requires specialists. Just take the area of HR data which includes Big HR Data, Analytics and the fact that HR is being more software driven in general. To master this HR must employ specialists. But not in big centralized headquarter departments. Instead I think companies will create some HR Excellence Centers which will support both HR partners – of which there will be fewer – and corporate HR. They will be very specialized in key HR areas such as Social Media, Workforce Analytics, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Performance Management.
So my prediction for HR for 2020: Outsource more, focus on HR strategy and increase specialization. That will, by the way, make HR more influential and so much better.
Imagine your CEO asks you to come up with one KPI he can track to evaluate if your talent management program is successful. Which talent management KPI will you choose?
The example may be hypothetical, but not unrealistic. I know HR executives who have five or seven KPI’s which they discuss with their CEO once a month. One may be on recruitment and one may be on talent management. So if you had to choose one for talent management, which one would it be?
When I talk about one KPI, I don’t mean to say that I think the success of a talent management program can or should be measured by one KPI. Instead I think such a program should be measured by 3-5 KPI’s. No more than that – measuring HR should be simple – but also no fewer than that. But I have experience HR executives who are forced to pick one.
I do believe that you can find one which is the best for you. That is the good news. The bad news is that unfortunately there is not a single generic KPI you can just copy-and-paste. It simply doesn’t work like that. BUT there is a KPI which is best for you.
Just as an aside, if you are looking for the five best generic talent management KPI’s, you can find them here.
Since I cannot offer you the one best talent management KPI, let me instead offer you the process through which you can find it. It is a fairly generic process and you can therefore use it on all types of programs. But will all generic processes; the value is not in the process design itself but in how you conduct the process and what content you bring to it.
It is a four step process:
- Identify what problem the talent management program is trying to solve. This is the purpose of the program. Although all programs are talent management programs, they are trying to achieve different things. Some focus on attracting talent, some on retention of talent and some on development and deployment of talent. There is no right or wrong, but which is more important to you?
- Imagine that you have implemented your program successfully and it has achieved its purpose, how do you know? What objective, tangible, measurable things have changed? Is it behavioral, attitude or more financial things which have changed? Which one matters most?
- Identify what data you have – or can get – to track the program. Most organizations suffer from bad data, wrong data or simply difficult-to-obtain-data. Ignore all of that data. Find the few data that you really need and focus your effort on that. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Define the KPI clearly. It must track the ultimate purpose of the program as well as being easy to monitor and understand. Formulating a KPI is not difficult, but you should follow these best practice steps when formulating it. Most organizations use KPI’s extensively but for most they don’t do what they are meant to do – help you make HR better. They use bad KPI’s
If you follow this simple process you are likely to come up with the one KPI which you can show to your CEO. He (she) will thank you for it.
The “war for talent” has made many companies change their recruitment processes and practically beg talents to come and join their company. The processes have been made as friendly, warm and inviting as possible partly to signal that it is a friendly and open company (nothing wrong with that) but also to convince talented people that they should apply.
There is however an argument for doing the exact opposite. In his book “Influence”, Robert B. Cialdini present compelling evidence that people who goes through a hard (and sometimes physical painful) recruitment experience actually is more engaged and dedicated to the organization they join.
One of the best examples outside of organization life is probably during “Hell Week” held each year on college campuses across US. Here young students make their fraternity pledges through a variety of activities some of which includes social embarrassment and sometimes physical pain. Why do young people go through such a recruitment processes?
A similar example is known in most countries. Just before getting married it is a tradition the groom-to-be (and increasingly also the bride-to-be) goes through a day of social embarrassments often held by their best friends. Why would someone go through this? Why would best friends/colleagues/fellow students put them through this? Why would society allow this? And why does it work?
The conclusion comes from two researchers Elliot Aronson and Judson Mills who observes that “persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort”. Interesting. In their research they saw that their participants rated the groups they joined more interesting and valuable if the access to the group was harder even though the groups were identical.
So if you actually make it harder to get recruited to your company, perhaps you will experience that people will value their job more, which in turn increases their commitment and engagement. I am certainly not saying that recruitment should resemble “Hell Week”, but perhaps companies are sucking too much up to talented young people today?
What is a talent? Is it only Einstein and Mozart who are talents or are we all talents in our own special way?
The way you define talent is important. Or worse, perhaps you haven’t explicitly thought about how you define it? Do not underestimate the influence of how you define things – it greatly impact the effect of your HR activities, in this case your talent management program. If you have a too narrow definition of talent then only a select few will be seen as talents and developed accordingly and if it is too broad it will have little or no practical effect.
McKinsey defined in their original “War for Talent” article in 1998 talents as “bright young people”. That is not very relevant for a talent management program in my view. Why is it only young people? What does bright mean – IQ or is EQ also relevant? We must do better than that.
Another thing to consider in your definition is whether a talent is born as a talent or talent is a skill that you acquire and develop. This theoretical discussion is important in relation to the extent to which you choose to recruit or develop talents and in relation to how much money you choose to spend on it.
A final thing to consider is if high performance is due to the talent or the systems, context and position. There are – broadly speaking – two opposite views on this; one which claim that the talent is responsible for the results and the other which believe it is more the position/company/context. It is probably somewhere in between in my view.
Regardless of your opinion of the above you must find a definition which makes practical sense for your company. If you do not have a strong clear definition you cannot link it to your HR strategy, develop good talent management KPI’s or evaluate it.
I will venture this as the best definition of a talent when you are creating a talent management program:
“A talent is a person who possesses special skills, which are difficult to copy or imitate, who is a top performer with competencies of strategic importance which cannot be readily developed and the lack of these skills and competencies would affect the competitive advantage of the company.”
What do you think?
It’s been a fantastic and fun year writing blog posts on this blog and in honor of the New Year, I’d like to share the most popular posts to my readers over the past year.
Here are the top 10 posts in terms of views and re-tweets from this blog for 2012, enjoy:
The software is good, the people are bright – it is the strategic mindset around data which is the challenge.
KPI’s are criticized but they still matter – you must however follow theses rules of thumb when using them.
KPI’s actually work most of the time. If you measure people and you link it to their pay they will in most cases try to meet these goals. Bad KPI’s therefore do more harm than good.
A list of the five most important and strategic Talent Management KPI’s
The most popular post was about psychology and HR Data – how cognitive dissonance will create a bias for a certain decision despite facts and evidence may favor the alternative.
I was reading an excellent White Paper by among others Jeff Higgins from Human Capital Management Institute which is called “Top Five Metrics for Workforce Analytics“. The White Paper lists five metrics of which one of them is an index they call ‘Talent Management Index’ – something which alerts me when I read it.
While the report does not go into too much detail, it does outline their suggestions for top 5 metrics for Talent Management.
That got me thinking about my suggestion for top five metrics for Talent Management. I would argue that you really shouldn’t have more than five at the most. KPI’s can overwhelm you and they must be used with care (see here for the pitfalls of using HR KPI’s). My suggestions are;
- Talent Retention (this is more positive than its negative cousin ‘Talent Turnover’). This is measured by taking the number of identified talents leaving the company during the year divided by the number of identified talents at the beginning of the year. For me, retention rates are not always very interesting. Many times you do want to get rid of low performers and you should be able to that without messing up your Talent Management KPI’s. But it must be imperative to keep talents – otherwise they shouldn’t be identified as such.
- Talent Performance. This is measured by taking the performance score for your identified talents from your Performance Management System. An effective talent program should be able to develop talents in such a way that their performance score improves.
- Time to Hire for Critical Roles. This one a bit tricky, because this KPI actually can work against you. The best candidate for a critical role may not be the one which is just available (there may be a 3 month notice period). However, a successful Talent Management program should be able to fill critical roles quicker from within. This should be measured.
- Skills gab filling process. This is measured by taking your talents and measure their talent gab at the beginning and at the end of the year. The talent gap will be individual from company to company but be based upon your individual assessment made at the beginning of the year. It may also come from your Succession Planning tool. In any event you must have some way of measuring how well the skills gab is changing.
- Talent Engagement Levels. This is measured by taking the engagement survey and identifying the level for your talents.
I have written many times, that I think Talent Management is the most important strategic process for HR to get right. This is simply because the potential pay-off is phenomenal compared to many other HR processes. Therefore it is too important not to measure and evaluate properly. Let’s get that right.
I will be very interested in hearing about alternatives to these Talent Management KPI’s. Which ones do you used and how do they work for you?
John Wooden was arguably one of the best coaches in sports history. He won the NCAA championship ten times in 12 years – seven of which were in a row. Not only that, he was also a fantastic player and he is the only person ever to be named basketball All-American both as a player and as a coach. So John knows all about finding and using talent (see this fantastic TED video).
For John performance was clearly important but famously his players have said that they don’t remember John Wooden ever stressing the importance of winning a game. He wasn’t obsessed or even focused on the points on the board. For him it was about sticking to the fundamentals and making an effort to reach your potential. If you do this the points will come and you will win.
I think companies can learn something from this thinking. In most areas of people assessment and evaluation companies are focused – even obsessed – with measuring results (the points on the board) instead of effort.
- Talents are assessed using the famous (notorious?) 9-grid evaluation tool where performance and potential is measured and talents are defined as those scoring high on both. In many cases, performance is equal to results.
- Bonuses are pay increases are often awarded to those who achieve the most i.e. getting the most points.
- Annual reviews are many times nothing more than comparing achievements with stated goals.
There is nothing wrong with focusing on results but I suggest that this should not be the only dimension. Effort should count too. I suggest that the dimensions in the famous 9-grid assessment tool should take into account that ‘performance’ is not just about achieving results but also about applying yourself to the limit of your talent and potential.
I was reminded of this reading this post, which asks the question; “should we reward effort”. My answer is yes, we should also reward effort but not base our evolution purely on effort. You can get results by doing the things wrong or half-heartedly and sometimes you can do everything you can and must and not get the results. The definition of winning is about making your best effort to continuously improve and apply what works – as Coach Wood said. We should reward this in companies too.