HR jabberwocky

by 25 Jun 2008

Could someone please tell me the difference between “talent management” and “human capital management”?

People come into the corporate world talking like normal people and within a month they are bereft of simple English. Conferences, speeches and meetings, are awash with trite terminology, each new phrase more convoluted than the last. And who is more imaginative and colourful with corporate speak than the HR people?.

Few people can deny the vital importance of having good talented people to the success of the business. A recent global study of CEOs showed that their greatest concern for 2008 is recruiting the right people.

However does a “talent acquisition” program get you better people than a “recruitment”program? Or is the first phrase used just to spice up your meeting with the CEO when looking for more funds ?

Recently at a conference in Sydney, an HR manager of one of Australia’s largest companies (almost 200,000 employees) spoke about what their department does in the areas of attraction, retention, talent development, and succession planning. While the words and phrases sounded great, the systems weren’t.

Speaking about managing their “talent pool”they found they could only focus on their top 5000 people. Why? Because this company, one of Australia’s largest, was conducting their national “talent management” programs on basic excel spreadsheets!

I know people are not simple creatures and constant research into what makes them tick is essential to any company wanting to get and keep the best staff and stay ahead of the game. But shouldn’t the energy be focussed on drumming up new sophisticated systems and software rather than new sophisticated words and phrases?