A Once in A Lifetime Experiment

Jul 28, 2009 by William Schiemann

The following is the first in a series of posts??that will relate  to key issues identified in??my new book Reinventing Talent Management,  co-published by John Wiley and the Society of Human Resource Management.  The ideas in that book, and in these posts are based on extensive research across thousands of firms, and over 70 senior executive  interviews.

A Once in a Lifetime Experiment

When I began the interviews for Reinventing Talent Management, the global economy was robust with many cries of talent shortages, high turnover in A-demand jobs, and battles for the best talent.  About half way through the research, the economy plummeted providing an unusual glimpse at how viewpoints change when the world is much gloomier.  Some views of talent remained the same while others changed quickly.  The perspective changed from a reactive—find a person to fill the slot—to a more reflective mode.??

In some ways in looking back on the interviews from the go-go period, organizations appeared to be less strategic, tactically running faster and faster on the talent treadmill.?? Many leaders described environments in which they were growing so fast that it was hard to catch up, all the while not really challenging the overall talent framework.  In a fishing analogy, it was a “talent catch and release” environment because many organizations were losing talent as quickly out the back door as they were hauling it in the front.  It was like fishing with huge nets hoping to find the remaining minnows. 

As the economic sky was falling, viewpoints changed.  While the recession has hurt many people, it may have helped organizations and their people in the long run.  It required people to stop and ask fundamental questions around Value.  When we don???t have a plethora of customers, we have to determine what they value most and deliver it better than anyone else.  When we want talent that meets strategic objectives and stays, we need to identify it carefully and nurture and develop it better than other organizations. 

Executive interviewed in the final phases of this work were asking more future oriented questions, perhaps some that you might identify with:

  • What things are we doing that really add value to our external customers or internal stakeholders?
  • What do we really want from our talent?  People with the right values?  Right competencies?  Aligned with our vision and strategy?
  • Are we really seeding, growing, and harvesting our talent effectively? 
    • Are we really recruiting talent that is not only competent, but also capable of becoming engaged and aligned with our vision and goals?
    • Are we really acculturating new talent in a way that is likely to lead to long term engagement and loyalty?
    • Are our training and development efforts really producing talent changes on the job?
    • Do we lose top talent that we could have saved if we had the right early warning systems and process to address gaps?

A future Blog will address some of the key challenges in thinking about managing the overall talent lifecycle in new ways.

Your comments and ideas are most welcome


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