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Why there’s hope for Talent Profiles

Posted by Amy Wilson on September 1, 2009

profile tshirtPeopleSoft introduced the concept of comprehensive profile management in 2005.  Since then it has become a requirement of any integrated talent management platform.  The idea is to provide a full picture of people and jobs (not just competencies) so that organizations can make more effective talent-related decisions.  Everyone agrees it is the right end goal.

Trouble is, right now it is very much an end goal.  Last month, Leighanne Levensaler of Bersin wrote that organizations (even the early-adopting, ahead-of-the-curve kind) have been slow to adopt (and more importantly, profit from) comprehensive profiles.  Leighanne has done mountains of research and has found that there are several reasons for this.  Some are vendor limitations, but the #1 issue is that organizations just aren’t ready. However, I think there’s hope.  And here’s why:

First, we need to re-do the Profile to Competency equation.

The idea with profiles is to provide a fuller picture of people, to capture more information about jobs, etc.  Fuller?  More? To me, that sounds like Profiles > Competencies.  Well, no wonder implementing profiles sounds like an impossible dream!  Very few organizations can get a competency framework identified … and now they have to do more?  So, the first thing we need to do is change the equation to Profiles < Competencies.  Profile Management can include competencies, but it can also include far simpler things that can be extremely beneficial to organizational decision making.  For example, the profile may include past experiences, mobility preferences, and key interest areas.  Just understanding what people are really thinking and doing can get you pretty far in your talent strategy.  Getting that all lined up across organizations and job levels can come later.

So this brings us to our next hurdle.  How do we get people to tell us what they’re thinking and doing?

Second, we need to re-do the Profile to Pronoun equation.

The idea with profiles is to collect as much information as we can about people, so we can use portions of that information to start making decisions about them.  Hey, if I were a “people” I would absolutely want to give you information.  (so that you can start making decisions about me? … hmm maybe not).  That sounds like Profiles = capture information about them to make decisions about their future.  And you wonder why, even if you have notifications and approvals on your self service, the people are not contributing?  So, the second thing we need to do is change the equation to Profiles = share information about me so that I can make decisions about my future.  It’s all about me!  The profile should be considered a mechanism for self-development and advancement first and foremost.  Once you wrap it in sticky, helpful processes, your people will contribute.  Simple information at first.  Then more.

And, voila!  You’ve got yourself a profile management platform.  And, it’s helping you make more effective talent decisions sooner.  Now, you can start insisting it be secured according to your needs.

6 Responses to “Why there’s hope for Talent Profiles”

  1. I agree – TM shouldn’t be seen as something you do TO people.

  2. Naomi Bloom said

    Competencies has always been too narrow and structured a concept when it comes to understanding the characteristics of human resources which are relevant to the doing of work as well as the characteristics of work which require that it be done by human resources (versus simply done by computers). That’s why I introduced KSAOCs in 1987, to broaden our collective thinking — and it works. If you look at what people share on social networks, there’s no requirement that it may only be relevant to the doing of work, but that’s mostly what you see on LinkedIn. Have a look at what I’ve written about KSAOCs and to see much more of what’s needed in a “profile” of work and workers. However, to be useful, these “profiles” must have some rigor of language and concepts or they become nothing more that my very personal view of myself in language that’s equally personal and, therefore, without the possibility of leverage across various talent processes. And that’s before we focus on the “grade inflation” and downright lies.

    • Louise Barnfield said

      Right on, Amy!…and great point Naomi.
      I totally agree that, for best re-use and for fitting people to jobs and vice versa, a profile should be predominantly well structured (“have some rigor of language and concepts”). However, I do also think it’s important to enable workers to have their say, and include other achievements that their current organization does not formally recognize.
      The ability to enter certain unstructured information, such as noteworthy accomplishments either inside or outside the organization, that individuals are keen to share with their manager or others, is yet another way of encouraging workers to keep that profile up-to-date, as well as giving managers a keener insight into what makes their workforce tick.

  3. Meg Bear said

    Very exciting Amy and so true. Not at all surprised to see Naomi understand right away the similarity of her KSAOC framework as I do agree they are actually the same discussion.

    As to the “downright lies” part I recently saw an interesting post (of course I can’t remember where) about how the network keeps you more honest than you might have been before. One of the beauties about LinkedIn is how accurate it is, because if you are lying, you can be called on it by anyone who is checking.

  4. Yeah profile should be a way of training for self improvement. There are many other ways to do if we want to have some change in our life.
    Good Post! Keep it coming!

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