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Archive for April, 2008

Building Applications That Help Grow Strong Leaders

Posted by Ken Klaus on April 29, 2008

Last week I had the opportunity to attend The Business of Talent conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Kudos to the team at Bersin & Associates for putting together a great conference.) One theme consistently discussed throughout the conference was the need to make leadership development a core part of your talent management strategy. Leadership development goes beyond just training and is equal in importance to recruiting, succession planning and performance management. Most talent management solutions provide applications that help companies to recruit, train, measure, and compensate their workforce. But few have incorporated leadership development as a core business process within the talent management suite; which is interesting since leadership development is generally considered a mission critical part of most business strategies. So the question is how can our talent management solutions help us achieve this critical objective?

First I think it’s important to understand that no software application by itself will ever find the leaders in your organization, let alone develop them (unless of course you have access to Deep Thought or Professor Farnsworth). This is a task for your managers, directors, and senior executives. I also subscribe to the idea that leadership is not tied to a specific role in the company, like manager, vice president or CEO. I think every employee is a potential leader and in my opinion the hallmark of a truly great company is having more leaders than managers, or better yet, just leaders and no managers! With that said, there are some tools your talent management applications ought to provide to assist your organization in identifying and growing your leadership pipeline.

  • First is a configurable profile management application. Profiles tell us everything we need to know about the person and the position. They help us assess whether we have the right people in the right job. Person profiles should include things like risk of loss, impact of loss, personal, professional and developmental goals as well as the skills (competencies) the employee has today. Job profiles include the key competencies, certifications, licenses, education requirements, etc. needed to succeed in the position. A good talent management solution will help you match each employee with the right position.
  • Second are integrated performance, learning and compensation management applications. Having performance management without learning management is like constructing a house with a yardstick and no hammer; why measure if you can’t build. Likewise, having a learning management application without performance management means you can train your employees but can’t measure their growth or level of accomplishment. Compensation helps you recognize and reward good performance; without it you have a stick (performance management) but no carrot and good employees won’t hang around for very long under those conditions.
  • Finally, the talent management suite should include robust analytic tools that aggregate and integrate your data across applications. These tools should help you calibrate performance and potential across the organization; identify risk of loss candidates; craft talent pools and succession plans; and create customized development objectives tied to the key business drivers for your organization.

Most companies believe the best leaders are grown rather than recruited. Individuals who grow up in the organization have already embraced the company’s culture and core values. They understand the business, the market place and most importantly the customer. All they really need is experience and an opportunity to lead. Mark Sanborn writes in You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader, “It doesn’t matter what your position is, or how long you’ve worked at your job, whether you help to run your family, a PTA committee, or a Fortune 1000 company. Anyone at any level can learn to be a leader and help to shape or influence the world around them.” Our job as talent management specialists is to provide every employee with the opportunity to become the leaders who will help our organizations succeed and our companies thrive.

Posted in leadership, succession planning, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Should you tell them?

Posted by Meg Bear on April 28, 2008

Over the weekend while attending a Cabernet tasting event*, I was talking with a friend and somehow  (yes I know — this suggests I have no life OR maybe I’m just really excited about Talent Management) the topic of “top talent transparency” came up.  Of course we didn’t use those words, but it was the topic nonetheless.

When we talk about “top talent” we tend to agonize along the following lines

  • If I tell someone that they are on “the list” will their ego make me regret it?
  • What about those who are not on “the list” will they be negatively impacted?

I’m going to risk it all with an opinion here, feel free to disagree (in comments or otherwise).  I believe you should be willing to disclose this information to individuals.  Why?  Well, because they are going to find out anyway, so pretending to hide it will not solve your problems.  By sharing this information you can have a better chance of actually getting what you want from those individuals who you consider your top talent.  In otherwords, by letting them know you consider them top talent you have a better opportunity to help them understand why, and as a result they can focus on the behaviors that make them critical to your organization. 

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother in the second grade, after I was tested for the MGM program.  The conversation went something like this:

Meg: How did I do?

Mom: I can’t tell you

Meg: Why? I had to take a test today instead of getting to watch a film in the library with the rest of my class, what do you mean you wont tell me how I did?

Mom: I’m told not to tell you because they are worried that by knowing the results it might cause you to act differently.

Meg: Huh?!

Yes, there are risks with transparency but at least those you can actively manage.


* For those interested the category was 2003 California Cabs and the winners were Signorello Valley and Long Vineyards

Posted in top talent | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

50th Post Milestone Reached – Author Wins Olive Garden Gift Certificate

Posted by Mark Bennett on April 19, 2008

We’ve just had our 50th post, by Kathi, our resident Social Connections Product Manager (of course). She can pick up her gift certificate the next time she’s out here. Since our start last November, we’ve built our team of bloggers to six, we’ve had many comments, we’ve developed a great presence for Oracle HCM in the blogosphere, and we’ve made many connections as a result of this blog.

So, what do the numbers tell us? Which of the posts have been most popular, or at least (in this day of RSS readers), had the most pagegviews? Here are the top five (as of today):

  1. Starbucks: Growth, Trust, and Risk
  2. If you love someone set them free
  3. About
  4. Ode to Fusion Middleware
  5. Encourage Job Hopping

Clearly this shows folks aren’t paying any attention and they think we know a lot about Starbucks as it relates to their investment strategy😉. In addition, it appears we’ve been taken for an advice column on relationships. After finding out neither was the case, people are then reading who we are and what we do, and that appears to have naturally resulted in curiosity about our Fusion Middleware Platform. Finally, it all makes sense when people read that this seemingly eclectic blog is due to our support of a rich, diverse set of experiences.

Thank you to our readers for giving us your time and attention. We will continue to strive to be interesting, entertaining, and informative.

The TalentedApps Crew

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Recruiting Process: Candidate Sourcing and Selection for building a deck

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on April 18, 2008

Now that we’ve had one 70 degree day, my husband and I are interviewing contractors to build us a deck. We started off by searching for a pool of candidates. We had no idea how to approach this.

My husband asked all his buddies what to do and they had no ideas. Most forgot which contractor they used themselves. Finally one friend said to go to the local home improvement store and ask for recommendations.

So, he got a list of three names and called the first one. That would be Candidate #1, Harry who agreed to come to our house the next business day at 5pm. He arrived on time. He showed us a book of sample decks. He gave us a rundown of his experience. He measured; he talked to us about what we wanted. He drew a rough sketch and promised that he’d hand-deliver an estimate the day after tomorrow. He did so, and he phoned to let us know he’d left it in our mailbox. His estimate and design were professional except that we kept saying we wanted either cedar or composite and his estimate was for pine. (Candidate Tip: Listen to your interviewers –don’t just talk)

Meanwhile, we decided we needed some more candidates.

My husband searched online (that’s how he found me…which worked out pretty well). Nothing ‘local’ came up. Hard to believe all these business don’t have websites in this day and age, but we are in Indiana, not exactly the leading edge of technology. Anyway, a few were listed within about 50 miles, across the Illinois state line, and seemed kind of far. Still, one of them had a map showing their service area. The map wasn’t the greatest but some of those blue dots looked like they were in or near our town so I called them and set up an appointment. (Candidate tip: make sure you know where the recruiters are looking for you. Be there.)

None of the other Illinois websites gave any indication of their service area so we skipped them. I imagine Recruiters may sometimes pass over a candidate for a job if they think the candidate lives ‘too far’ away. (Recruiter tip: Don’t eliminate someone because you assume they aren’t interested. Let them tell you.)

So I called this far-away-in-Illinois contractor, candidate #2, Lenny. He came out a few days later, at lunch time. Lenny listened to what we wanted, took some measurements, showed us his book, showed us sample materials. Lenny has a PASSION for deck building. He told us the story of how he got into the business, his love of architecture. He talked us out of some goofy ideas we had about the deck and gave us some better ideas. (Candidate tip: Sometimes it pays not to blindly nod and agree with everything the interviewer says). He talked to us about cedar versus composite and told us about how cellular vinyl is actually the latest ‘fake’ material used in deck building. He helped us decide on material. He didn’t try to sell us; it truly felt like a conversation. He left us with a drawing, an estimate and a business card. He promised my husband he’d get real professional drawings with bill of materials if we select him. This caused my engineer husband to salivate.

The next day we decided we needed more names. Meanwhile I had pulled out the phone book to find the location of health food store to buy a remedy that was recommended to make my cat stop her nocturnal meowing (long story) when it hit me. Hmmmm…I bet there is a Deck section in here! Yes, there was! How old-fashioned is that? My husband kept marveling that “all the people I asked how to find a contractor and no one told me to use the phone book” (Recruiter tip: Don’t overlook ‘old-fashioned’ methods of sourcing candidates). Sure enough we saw ads for Harry and Lenny. And we also found two different Dwaynes. Were it my own choice, I probably wouldn’t have picked a second Dwayne but the same-name thing didn’t seem to bother my husband like it did me. (Recruiter tip: It’s OK to have two Dwaynes).

Candidate #3, Dwayne-the-first, came out another day at lunch time. One of the first things he said “Oh….I probably should have brought my book” (Candidate Tip/ Boy Scout moto: Be prepared). Dwayne did a quick sketch of what I now realize is a weird deck but at the time I liked it. I think because he and I realized we went to the same high school and grew up a few blocks from each other. (Candidate tip: If you aren’t good at your job you might get away with it by schmoozing. For awhile.) Anyway he made a drawing of ‘weird-deck’ but then took it with him so he could remember it (and we couldn’t). He left us with an immediate estimate which was an exact round number, yet no details with that number. (Candidate tip: Give your salary preference in non-round numbers. It appears to have some logic and thought behind it.😉)

Which brings me to Candidate #4, Dwayne-the-second. He was supposed to come yesterday at 5pm. He called that morning. “I just was informed that I have to attend a function at my daughter’s school” (translation: my wife just reminded me about my daughter’s thing and even though she told me about it weeks ago, I totally forgot and there’s NO WAY I can get out of it).

Dwayne-the-second asked to reschedule for a week out. I said sure. I informed him he is our last guy, so he should come sooner or not at all. (Candidate tip: If you must reschedule, you maintain the appearance that the interview is a priority for you) Dwayne-the-second hasn’t even given me an estimate or drawn a deck (weird or otherwise) yet I already have a negative impression of him. Not good.

Those are all our candidates.

I’ve drawn some conclusions on this process and how it relates to candidate selection. The candidate you select should meet the basic requirements, which of course should be stated in your job posting. We didn’t have a job posting. We didn’t sit down and agree on any criteria ahead of time. We didn’t really have any screening questions. Well, we had a few but we kept forgetting them and didn’t always ask all of them consistently. Our interview usually started with us flailing our arms in the backyard giving our vision of the deck (which probably varied from candidate to candidate depending on whether it was cold outside that day).

We didn’t even have a well thought out plan about how to find our candidates, we just searched willy nilly. Because of our poor Deck-Builder Recruiting Practices we are in danger of making a decision based on subjective versus objective job-related criteria. Namely:

1) We like Harry because he was punctual, polite and professional (how is this related to building a deck?) OK this one is marginal – sometimes those soft skills matter. It feels like it could correlate to getting the job done on time.

2) I spent too much time in the ‘interview’ talking to Dwayne-the-first about people we knew in high school. I like him because he’s ‘like me’. I should have kept the interview more focused.

3) We don’t like Dwayne-the-second because he seems like a flake. He did not make a good first impression.

For these reasons, we chose…….Lenny.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Is your workplace a better place with you in it?

Posted by Meg Bear on April 15, 2008

 Special thanks to Ken for getting me to read The Fred Factor which reminds us that each and every day we make an impact, the real question is what kind of impact do we make? 

This reminded me of something a good friend said once, I will attempt to paraphrase the story.

I was working for a company that was falling upon hard times.  The rule, not the exception really with Valley startups (although we always seem to forget that when we hear of the big winners but I digress).  I had the luxury of working with a great team at this company and we were all very sad to know that it had to end.  One of the team members asked the other if he was concerned that he might not have another team as fun to work for in his next job.  His answer was simple and profound to me, he said “no, I’m planning to bring it with me”.

Wow.  Powerful and humbling thing to think about.  So I ask you, is your workplace better for having you there? 

If not, why not?

Posted in engagement, teams | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Job Satisfaction Model for retention

Posted by Justin Field on April 11, 2008

I’ve been studying turnover and retention recently and it led me to wonder about the real reasons for turnover.  Everybody understands that some turnover is functional (or beneficial to the organisation) and some turnover is dysfunctional (bad for the organisation).  And we all understand that some turnover is necessary, otherwise organisations would stagnate. 

So, the fundamental reason that employees leave organisations is that they are not satisfied.  Their dissatisfaction could occur on many levels.  Much published research on turnover indicates that money is often NOT the most important reason.  Employees leave for other reasons such as career growth and development, or a change in life circumstances, or factors like that.

It’s handy to think of the reasons for dissatisfaction in terms of push factors (things that make employees more dissatisfied) and pull factors (things that make employees more satisfied).  Here’s a diagram.

Job Satisfaction Model for Employee Retention

The factors that are going to make some MORE dissatisfied are things like:

  • poor pay
  • poor compensation
  • poor work conditions
  • lack of promotions
  • poor benefits offering
  • lack of job security

Curiously enough, if you were to fix all these factors, you’d still not get a satisfied employee.  If you fixed everything above, you’d have an employee sitting somewhere in the middle of the satisfaction scale, so they would be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

The factors that make an employee MORE satisfied are things like:

  • good leadership in the organisation
  • good relationship with their manager
  • recognition for their achievements (not necessarily monetary recognition)
  • advancement in their careers
  • personal growth and development
  • feedback and support (meaningful feedback, not just naked criticism)
  • clear direction and objectives

So there is a lot that can be done on the positive side to increase satisfaction.  Naturally, there are of course many opportunities on this side of the house where a good talent management solution can helps things along.

Posted in engagement | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Kids these days

Posted by Meg Bear on April 8, 2008

There has been a lot of talk in the industry about Millennials and how they impact a talent strategy.  Given the age demographic (newly joining the workforce), it is natural that the segment that has been giving this the most attention is the Recruiting process.    Most recruiters today are actively taking advantage of new technologies and social norms to increase their access to a larger (and hopefully more qualified) candidate pool.  This is all goodness.

Today, I’d like to suggest that there is another, equally important part of the talent “wheel” that really must stand up and take notice.  This is the Learning group.  As some of you probably know, this is a topic near and dear to my heart, but like anything that you are close to, I have also been guilty of wanting the answer to be in providing more methods of delivery vs. really needing to re-think the whole business strategy.  Would that it was as simple as providing a few wikis and making eLearning available as a podcast.   I am now convinced that starting with the “delivery will save us” premise, is a recipe to being totally irrelevant within your HR Business strategy in the next 5-10 years.

Watching this video about university learning, is a good start to understanding what is different today in how people learn.  I personally believe that this is not  just a GenY issue.  Even our news channels, which have an over 30 demographic, feel the need to provide an increasingly large volume of content at a more rapid pace.  The world is expecting information faster.  Sure, younger generations are more quick to adapt to this kind of change, but that does not mean that it is only the under 30 crowd that is expecting more today then they have in the past.

How people “learn” and how they are “trained” are often not well aligned in most organizations today.  I believe this problem is growing and that we need to start to think about this in the context of a “Learning strategy” vs. just a Millennial problem.  To that end, I’ve decided to try and articulate what I think is needed for a impactful learning strategy.  I’m sure I’ve missed some things, so please feel free to sound off in the comments with additional ideas.

Meg’s suggestions for a Next Generation Learning strategy

  • Organizational Development and Training organizations need a tighter alignment then the loose “competency gap” relationship they have today.  Companies need to be able to drive the need for learning to individuals based on a wide-variety of “triggers”.  Competencies are certainly one, but what about things like missed objectives, long term career plans, poor customer satisfaction surveys, or even manager or individual observations?
  • Learning groups need to be comfortable expanding their influence and take an active role in the dreaded worlds of knowledge management, informal land experiential learning.  To do this, we must realize that we need a seamless transition for people between formal and informal learning.  Not everything is going to be managed by the catalog and not everything can have the same level of formal monitoring as compliance training. 
  • Take advantage of “wisdom of the crowds” and avoid the tendency to have everything centrally managed.  Tier your programs so that you can get comfortable with the volume of information that is going to naturally come along with the idea of opening up to the unwashed masses.  Don’t run away from these concepts just because they are complex. 
  • Recognize that key learning today is not just coming from static channels, it is also coming from people.  Having better understanding about what human assets you have that can help your organization learn is key.  Who knows what and who is willing to share what they know is going to be one of the key elements to understand.
  • Begin to think about incentive and tracking programs for learning.  What is mission critical for your business?  What learning is needed to make that happen?  How do you drive that learning to the individuals?   How do you help individuals get real value from your learning programs so that they continue to participate?  Understanding individual incentives is key.
  • Be open to the idea that the learning department will turn into a facilitator of learning vs. the source of learning in the organization. 

It is my prediction that learning departments will either embrace this new world and find their place in it, or they will become a third appendage with only compliance as their real value proposition. 

Posted in learning, social network, teams, wisdom of crowds | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Cloning and the Art of Succession Planning

Posted by Ken Klaus on April 7, 2008

I caught an episode from season 2 of Futurama last week titled A Clone of My Own, thanks to a recent acquisition (by me, not Oracle), of a DVR player. In this episode Professor Farnsworth, the owner of an interplanetary delivery service and inventor extraordinaire, is celebrating his 150th birthday. During his party the professor laments, “There’s no one to carry on after I’m gone, no one to take care of my work and my research and my fabulous fortune. I’ve got to name a successor. There’s no time to lose. I’m off to my lab to build a successor-naming machine!” A potentially lucrative opportunity, for what pioneering software company worth its salt wouldn’t jump at the chance to acquire such an invention? Alas, after much time and effort the professor completes his machine only to discover that none of his employees are up to the job. So he does what any mad software vendor, er um, I mean scientific genius would do, he clones himself, resulting in much mayhem and hilarity.

Thankfully cloning isn’t an option for us average Joes. Unfortunately most of us don’t have access to a successor-naming machine either; but this does not mean we’re helpless when it comes to succession planning. We can start by identifying each of the key positions in the organization that drive our business and consider how the business would be impacted if someone working in one of these positions were to leave. Next, we can identify the high performers in each of these essential roles and create a profile of the attributes that make them successful. A good profile will include hard skills for job competencies, degrees, and certifications as well as soft skills like enthusiasm, creativity, flexibility, and perseverance. Once we have a strong profile definition we’re ready to find the high potential candidates who already fit the profile as well as those who are a close match and create individual development plans that will help each employee reach the next level.

Succession planning is a critical component for any talent management strategy and requires proactive rather than reactive timing; because looking for a successor after a person leaves puts the business at undue risk. Identifying critical positions in your organization, defining key profiles for these roles, locating high potential employees, and investing in development requires planning and commitment. And even if science could solve the problem of succession for us, I’m guessing it still wouldn’t work out the way we hoped; because as any fan of the sci-fi genre knows something always goes wrong – think Jurassic Park! But growing high potential employees into key roles is a safe and proven methodology for keeping your business strong and your employees happy.

Posted in engagement, goals | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Top Chef Potential

Posted by Amy Wilson on April 3, 2008

chef.jpg This Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of getting fooled by my husband.  Since we consider it a sort of anniversary, Paul surprised me with a gourmet dinner of Filet Mignon, Lobster, asparagus and home-made twice baked potatoes.  No fooling!  Hmm, yummy. 

Since I’ve been thinking a lot about potential lately, it got me remembering old chef Paul.  When we first met, I would never have picked him as a future chef.  Sure, he cooked a lot.  He made ramen noodles, he burnt chicken stir fry, he made these really weird tacos.  But 95% of it was terrible!  In fact, at one point I declared that we would only eat cereal for dinner. 

Then something interesting happened.  Paul’s aspirations joined together with opportunity (stay-at-home dad), tools (good pots and pans, gadgets, and cooking shows), and constructive feedback (me!) and he’s really fabulous!  Now those weird tacos have transformed into a unique delicacy that could be served at the finest mexican-asian fusion restaurant.  His signature dishes blend hearty favorites with innovative ingredients. 

I never thought I’d say it, but the kid’s got potential!  

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »


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