Talent Management is Hard

OK, everyone knows that Talent Management is just the hottest thing right now.  I attended the World at Work conference in Orlando last week, and all the buzz was about TM.

We have been posting about this in the blogsphere for a few weeks now including Donald H. Taylor’s definition of Talent Management: making organizational capability match organizational commitment.  Another one on employee engagement (possible result of TM done well) here from SystematicHR.

I have some experience with TM. First, as a Corporate HR guy – where we developed and ran a program to identify and develop high potential employees over time. Second, as an HR Tech person – selling TM/PM systems into large organizations.

Now there is a lot of discussion about how the ATS and other HR Tech vendors are potitioned for TM (See Jason Corsello’s post here) and who is going to win the race for this space.  I think it is a wide open opportunity, but fundamentally different from ATS, Benefits, Compensation Administration, Payroll and a host of other HR Technologies adopted by most large organizations.

TM is different because it requires significant cultural change that must be led from the top. The widely adopted HR Technologies are applications that automated existing processes. Most of them did NOT require any meaningful behavior change in the organization.

Implementing real TM requires significant behavioral change in most organizations.

My experience selling TM is instructive. The conversations usually start with “we want to automate our performance review process”.  Great – relatively easy to do – and clearly within the span of HR to implement and control.  But what happens next is not so easy to do.

So if we automate the annual reviews – shouldn’t we have goals and objectives?  Yes, and they should be aligned top to bottom, and across.  And we need competency models for jobs so we can know if people fit.  Also, we need to make sure there is a Learning Management System integrated so that our people have resources to acheive their development goals – and of course we have to track that.  Oh, and of courses we want to identify the high potential employees for further development – and doesn’t that lead to succession planning? Also, we have to tie this in to our compensation planning process to ensure that we are giving differential rewards to the high performers.  OK, lets do all that.

(Reminds me of one of my all-time favorite children’s books – If You Give a Pig a Pancake)

After this conversation most HR people recognize that this is not just plumbing or automation – but something way beyond their span of control. This kind of initiative must be led, supported and driven by Sr. Management. In most cases, what happens next is that there is some more conversation and then the idea dies.

TM is not like these other applications and will follow a different adoption path.



2 Responses to Talent Management is Hard

  1. Niladri says:

    Very well written , I resonate with your view I am an Indian HR professional , with interests in talent management and development

  2. Bill Compton says:

    Hi Jim. Photos i received. Thanks

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