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Talent Management - Tell me I am wrong

Talent Management - Tell me I am wrong

I recently attended a seminar in London with over 100 Talent Managers from some of the biggest brands in the UK. During this excellent seminar we looked at Talent Management processes and explored whether we need to rethink our approach for the modern world. This session provoked me to reflect on all the performance and talent systems I have seen, designed and implemented over the years. After reflecting on this I think the answer is a resounding YES! We do need to change, but not in the way you might think. So please allow me a few minutes to explain…

    You’re just making it up!

    I think talent management is a bit of an anomaly in the world of HR. If you look at HR processes you will find that these will differ from business to business but they are all mostly built on a few sound best practices. That is why we see so many strong HR solutions in the market place that are adding real value to their users. However Talent Management is way more complicated than that. It is very difficult to develop software that allows a business to nurture and track talent, this is why over the years we have seen many trends come and go. A few years ago the market wanted formal performance management with cascading objectives, personal development plans and structured reviews. More recently the market has shifted towards wanting a more social experience with other people commenting on your performance, 360 reviews, shorter term objectives and even in some cases no formal ratings at all. The truth is there is no best practice or silver bullet to meet all your talent needs, if there was we would have all stopped looking.

      Where you going with this, Rick?

      I don’t think anyone can argue against the importance of Talent Management but I think I can argue against our approach to solving for it. Every year, software companies and the businesses they serve pour millions of pounds into the development and rollout of Performance and Talent management systems, yet I have never seen one of these systems gain universal adoption within a business and stick for a long period of time. This lack of adoption is the crux of problem and I think this is the holy grail that everyone is chasing. Most of us are going about this by looking at the next big technology trends to help us and because of this the market is constantly spending small fortunes on implementing newer, shinier and more modern talent tools. This is where I think we are all going wrong.

        Your Dad knows best

        For the most part, there are not really any bad talent management tools on the market and they all do a job of capturing the right information. The problem is not the software – it is the business itself. Most of the businesses I work with push out the talent agenda from a central point and look to get people bought in through a variety of means; whether this be financial rewards, using more engaging apps, gamification, and any other ways you can think of. The problem is no matter what you do, the managers and sometimes the employees just see this as extra work and not part of their day job. This is where we need to change.

        My Dad always tells me that his greatest achievement bar none is my little sister and I growing up and going on to achieve better things than he has. For me, this one statement is the answer. Rather than spending millions on new software what would happen if we put the same investment into our people? What would happen if every line manager in your business looked at their team and their sole focus became the wellbeing and development for their people? What would happen if your managers were like our Dads and the proudest moments of their careers were when you got a new role and went onto bigger and better things than them? Would a new shiny piece of software help deliver this? Yes it probably would but for me it is only a small part of the answer.

        So, am I wrong?