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Must Everything Change in a Down Economy?

Posted by Marcie Van Houten on January 9, 2009


It’s hard to miss that we’re in a down economy.  But some how it feels as if it was sprung on me.  As a Talent Management product strategist, I’ve been blissfully thinking about TM applications and their uses from a more ‘ideal’ point of view.  Large multinational companies with unlimited growth opportunities doing everything they can to hire, retain, and develop their talent.

Now that the Big R is staring me in the face, must I also rethink my product strategy?  Let’s take Talent Reviews for example.  I’ve spoken with many companies that are condueconomic-downturncting Talent Reviews to ensure they are properly engaging their talent.  And my partner in crime, Ken, fell in love while discovering the same.

Well, that’s all great, but in a down economy, do companies continue to conduct Talent Reviews?  And if so, is it with the same purpose in mind?  I believe the answers should be 1) “yes, they very much should” and 2) “yes, plus some”.

When resources are tight and opportunities are limited, it’s even more important to know that you are spending your human resoure $$ wisely.  And while I’m certainly not meaning to project this on anyone, Talent Reviews can enable organizations to focus on the right talent and also identify the talent that is not as necessary.  Now I know this is a touchy topic so please do not blast me, but it is a reality.  I’d much rather see organizations thoughtfully assess their talent and make the best decisions as I believe healthy companies lead to a healthy economy which then leads to healthy hiring.  Talent Reviews can help in this by allowing an organization to comparatively assess their employees, look at the talent in lagging business units, identify new opportunities for those with transferable skills, and yes, also identify those that are least able to contribute to the company’s bottom line in a tough economy.  (Hmmm, is this an argument for generalists?)

My conclusion is that Talent Management applications are very relevant in an up economy, and possibly even more relevant in a down economy.  They allow organizations to make thoughtful decisions vs. to react in a knee jerk fashion.  And as a generalist and a TM product strategist, that actually makes me feel pretty good.

2 Responses to “Must Everything Change in a Down Economy?”

  1. Amy Wilson said

    Marcie – I agree that it is definitely not as fun of a topic, but the conversations leaders need to have in the coming months/years are even more critical than before.

  2. Meg Bear said

    Exactly right. If you are looking to be competitive, I would argue that you can no longer run a business not knowing key information like performance and potential. You competitors who have this information to hand will make better decisions in any economy but the impact is probably more severe in a down one.

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