HR to get talent savvy

by 03 Apr 2007

HR PROFESSIONALS need to keep up to date with talent management technology in order to effectively attract and retain the best and brightest employees, according to an international human capital consultancy.

“Improvements in selection, development, performance management and/or succession management on their own are no longer sufficient to deliver the results that today’s talent-tight and knowledge-based competitive environment dictates,” said Robert Heckman, vice-president of the Personnel Decisions International (PDI) leadership assessment products business.

Organisations are frequently being asked to integrate their efforts across talent management processes in order to leverage process efficiencies and achieve meaningful data that can inform talent decisions, according to Heckman.

Another overwhelming trend for HR professionals is that talent management technology is increasingly driving the way business is conducted, he said. “As technology analysts estimate growth rates for spend on talent management technology to be in excess of 16 per cent over the next four to five years, this growth far exceeds growth in other areas of HR, consequently impacting the talent solutions that gain traction in the future.”

Speaking at a recent forum in Sydney, Heckman said that while efficiency, effectiveness and impact are the new rhetoric for describing HR’s contribution, the function is lacking a framework for demonstrating that HR initiatives are strategically logical, can be executed flawlessly and will help the business to succeed.

Heckman stated many organisations struggle with their performance management systems, as employees find processes within these systems too cumbersome and avoid participation. These organisations, frustrated in their efforts to collect high-quality data, often avail themselves to tolerate sub-optimal talent management processes.

Consequently, he believed enterprises were making lower quality decisions about their talent and otherwise failing to act upon farther-reaching business opportunities, afforded by high-quality performance data.

In order to work effectively with company executives in developing practical talent management initiatives, Heckman said HR professionals should have a method for identifying the implications of their talent strategies.

This could to be achieved through identifying their pivotal talent pools and developing a strategy that clearly aligns their efforts with business outcomes, he said.

Heckman said talent systems need to be the domain of line managers if HR is to make the transition from a support function to one of professional partner.

“They will need to design solutions for managers … and present on the business implications underpinning talent data, much like a CFO would when they interpret accounting data.”

As a result, the talent implications of business strategy not only need to be understood by HR, but translated into workable modules that build evaluation (impact) into their everyday practices.

Using talent auditing processes that embedmeasures and solutions that are pragmatic, efficient and effective therefore are key parts of the equation, he said.

“The key to getting the attention of managers will be the ability to measure the business value of talent management systems.”

Pitfalls of talent technology

• Bad data faster is not helpful. Don’t web-enable a bad process in an uncommitted culture and expect better results

• Technology cannot teach a manager to have a difficult conversation with a poor performer – plan additional change management activities

• Establish a metrics/analytics strategy before making the technology decision

• Be careful of marketing traps from technologists (such as lower total cost of ownership)

• Expect HR technology providers to consolidate: explore viability of provider and have a contingency plan

Source: Robert Heckman, vice president, Personnel Decisions International (PDI) leadership assessment products business

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