Monday, September 15, 2008

Talent Managment vs Talent Development: Human Capital or Human Cattle?

Full disclosure: I used to LOVE the idea of talent management. In fact, I've designed systems that do just that. The question is, do we want to treat employees as cattle by growing them in a controlled environment, making all the decisions for them and never truly encourging them to reach for more or is there a different way?

The basic idea of Talent Management(TM) is to quantify and automate the talent pool in an organization. By and large, TM is meant to inventory your "Human Capital"(HC) and improve the rate of return by "investing" in learning, goal planning and training. This is the first in a multi-part series designed to showcase the value of a Talent Development approach vs. a Talent Management approach to people.

To set a baseline, traditional TM for a typical organization might look like this.

  1. Assign competencies to people describing their desired skill sets and behaviors

  2. Evaluate each person against their assigned skills and behaviors (read, performance review)

  3. Identify Gaps where improvement can be made

  4. Assign some behavior or skill modifying remedy. (i.e, training)

  5. Rinse and Repeat as necessary. (Usually annually)

This practice often also involves goal setting and goal management as well, following much the same process, though, often times individuals will both be assigned and self-design their goals.

Over time, an organization can use the information gathered here to fire, hire and promote individuals, plan successions and career paths and determine a model for compensation, or at least that's the thought. The truth is many implementations fail, for reasons such as; time to implement, cost, and most often, poor adoption.

Over all though, the idea and core premise is sound but where are the people in this process? Is this really the best approach for identifying and improving talent?
Perhaps we need to reevaluate our process? Consider the difference between management and development. Perhaps best defined as a contrast between control and growth. Ironically, the goal of good management is growth, however, often times, our desire for control hampers change, thereby impeding growth.

Giving up some control however, can yield unexpected results and tremendous growth.

Consider these scenarios:

You're a director: Annually, one of your managers reviews Tom, you don't know Tom, aside from what he looks like, but you hear he's a solid performer. Year after year, you approve his review of "meets expectations", sign off on his raise and life goes on. Tom continues on doing whatever it is he does.

Enter, crowdsourcing.

Rather than a review, you beginning observing trends in your workplace community. Your employees are constantly interacting with one another online leaving a data trail for you to follow. To your surprise, Tom, that average employee you knew little about, is actually an internal super-connector. His peers rank his suggestions, comments and content as superior and invaluable. On top of that, apparently, he serves as an unofficial conduit, between your department and marketing, fielding most questions about your product! That's a far cry from the Tom you knew as "meets expectations". Shouldn't his manager have known and identified him as a top-performer?

That is one example of a startling discovery you could find by crowd sourcing your Talent Management. Here are some of the hard benefits:

  • Uncover hidden talent, rising stars, and filter out poor performers

  • Assess and catalog talent pools by using a job-folksonomoy. (More on that later)

  • Discover blocking factors (like Tom's manager who likely knew but felt threatened by Tom.)

  • Save time and money by removing or supplementing a heavy TM process.

  • Provide Just In Time learning by giving employees access to content and experts as needed.

As I mentioned, I'll continue building a case for Talent Development > Talent Management in the near future. Check back soon!

4 comments: said...

Great stuff Matt. Looking forward to reading more.

Linda Hower Bates said...

Thanks, Matt. Definitely want to learn more about the 'job-folksonomy' you discuss.

AmitK said...

Very interesting read. I wonder when enterprise learning enters the realm of HCM and becomes as useful to "Talent Development" and management. Will follow your ideas here on crowd-sourcing

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