Aiming for your first Talent Management Win

16 05 2011

Make no doubt about it, integrating existing functions in a large organization with set methodologies and processes is at best a significant challenge.  Asking multiple groups whose processes may work well (or at least, “good enough”) to change their processes to conform to an overall system often (ok…always) brings on resistance.  

Part of the obstacle to the adoption of more integrated practices may be organizational and part of it may be cultural.  It’s very often the case that HR’s functional groups have senior leaders responsible for each group who in turn report to a Senior V.P. of Human Resources or other equivalent title.  That person has responsibility for each of the functional units under him or her, but also in their role is just as much (or often much more) involved in serving the needs of the senior management team.  That can be a “distraction” from building proactive synergies across HR domains to say the least.

In addition, the people that make up a functional unit as well as the mind-set that goes with their core charter can build culture that works against an integrated approach to talent management.  It is quite common for many of the domains lumped under the moniker of “HR” to not consider themselves to be part of the human resources department at all.  Recruiting and staffing professionals have the goals, rewards, and mindset much more akin to a salesperson than to your average benefits administrator.  Organizational Development groups are very often influenced and chartered based on subscription to certain organizational behavior philosophies.  In addition, they’re often targeted toward specific goals or set groups (e.g. Leadership Development).  The apple that is likely furthest from the “HR Tree” is probably the Learning and Development groups.  These groups are often there to meet very specific certification or skills development needs specific to the organizations business.  Because of this the Learning function has very traditionally been budgeted and staffed by line management and not HR.  Only in the past few years have more and more learning groups begun to centralize.

For HR professionals looking to further integrate the domain they work in with those of their peers, it goes without saying that the path of least resistance is through the full support of an able senior leader in charge of the organization’s HR function.  What’s more, an active and supportive Senior Management team as a whole raises the chances of success by several orders of magnitude.

Whether you are fortunate enough to have senior management support or whether you’re just looking to make inroads in the direction of a more integrated talent management process, it is a good idea to focus on a single initiative to start.  Success in a single area of cross-domain integration can then serve as a proof-of-concept for a broader integration of talent management processes.  Characteristics of a good candidate for setting an initial goal in your organization might include:

  • An existing and accepted pain inside the business (e.g. high turnover rates in a key role, talent drain out of the company to a key competitor, a lack of adequate candidates for certain geographies or roles, etc.)
  • A key metric – something that already has an associated metric that is seen as important to the business.  This could be average tenure of employees in key positions.  Or it might be internal promotion rates.  It could be turnover in college hires.  It will vary from business to business and between job functions.
  • Cross-functional data – It may go without saying, but the best opportunities will look to take information generated from one functional process and apply that to another to create an insight.  “Quality of Hire,” is a great example.  An organization may have a very low cost of hire along with a speedy time to fill open requisitions, but of those who were hired, how many stayed?  How well did the ones hired from certain sources perform?

When searching for that first win that demonstrates the need for an integrated approach, it can be useful to adopt a specific theme.  “Integration” for integration’s sake is a difficult sell, but it is a good idea to work toward helping a single function do its job better through the use of an integrated data set.

(Mike Ditson)




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