Integrated Process, leveraged results

12 05 2011

The collective set of functions that make up talent management, Recruiting, Performance management, compensation, Succession, etc., can be likened to other systems that are actually made up of various sub-processes.  Think of all of the different systems that go into an automobile.  There is a structural system, a chassis, on which all the other systems are built.  There is an acceleration or power train, a braking system, a steering system, a diagnostic or dashboard system all of which come together to make a total system that gets the driver from point A to point B.  The human body is the same way.  You have a skeletal system, a respiratory system, a circulation system, a nervous system, and so on.  All of these work together to make a higher performing total system.  Of course, the one difference about talent management systems is that while your Applicant Tracking system is useful on its own, a braking system or respiratory system needs a car and a body and all their other ancillary systems to be of much use.

It is in the merging of processes, vocabulary, and definitions where Talent Managers from different HR domains can jointly put their overall Talent initiatives into overdrive, and build a greater overall Talent Management system.  By leveraging the skills, experience, and expertise of other HR domains, as well as working from a common set of data, Talent Managers can do more inside their own domain than they could on their own.  Together, multiple sub-systems of talent management can be brought together to create a higher-functioning whole.

There are multiple “sub-systems” that can be leveraged to work across multiple HR domains.  Some of these provide a standard way of communicating about people or jobs and are thus useful across all talent management domains, while others may be more specific and more useful only across a couple talent management processes.  There are several examples of these “sub-systems,” including:

Talent Information – the driving reason for integration of talent management processes is to produce data and talent information that help an organization achieve its goals.  It’s cliché for a CEO to say “people are our biggest asset,” but it is true that the success (or failure) of a business is largely made on the skills and efforts of the people that make up the organization.  Information on opportunities or potential risks associated with these people is key to growing an organization.  More on this in the next section.

Standardized, reusable, “live” data – Just as the system of the human body wouldn’t get far if the circulatory system used one blood type and the respiratory system used an incompatible blood type, talent management systems need to run on a standard set of data.  It’s common for organizations to institute job “leveling” and salary grades to help different groups understand how different jobs fit into the organization.  However, an integrated talent system needs to go even further by defining like of jobs, job descriptions, positions (if the organization makes that distinction), and the capabilities and experience requirements that go along with all of them.

It’s very common (almost the rule) for organizations to have multiple job descriptions for what is essentially the same job.  In the course of putting forth requirements and hiring new people into a role, line managers are left to “start from scratch” each time they hire in a new person, adding to the storm of non-standard data and job definitions HR is left to contend with.  What’s more, HR domains that work in silos don’t get to leverage this data across each other’s practices.  If an Organizational Development professional has figured out what capabilities are absolutely required for the job of regional sales manager inside her organization, the staffing organization (and sales management) should absolutely know that information and be able to hire with that information in mind.

Competency & Skill management – Competency and skill management is a special form of standardized data that is well known across HR domains.   As the “measuring sticks” that help HR professionals better define what capabilities are required for success in a particular role, competencies have experienced various levels of adoption in different organizations.  Many organizations have had their efforts to deploy competency models stunted by “biting off more than they can chew” for an initial project.  Other organizations have successfully deployed large competency models for specific portions of their business such as Leadership Development programs or key skills related to their core business.

An integrated approach to Talent Management requires a similar “language” for describing the demand for work (a job description for instance), as well as the available “supply” of workers (internal and external candidates).  So an early step in integrated approach involves making sure different HR domains are using the same “measuring sticks.”

Profile management – “Profile” is more of a HR system based term, but even without a system the term profile can be used to describe the collection of information an HR and business management team would want to have to support a discussion on a given topic.  A “dossier” is another term that might describe a complete set of information to describe a single person – capabilities, assessments, resume, etc.  A profile could be centered around a person, or it could be centered around a job, a position, an organization or business unit.  A profile serves as a single collection point for multiple data generating activities performed by each of the Talent management domains.  Over time, these collection points become rich data sets around single entities (e.g. a person, a business unit, a job family, a position, etc.) that can be mined for strategic advantage.

Collectively, these and other talent management “sub-systems” lay across the traditional Talent Management/Human Resource domains to create a greater whole.

Mike Ditson

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