We put the Talent in Applications

  • Authors

  • Blog Stats

    • 611,143 hits
  • Topics

  • Archives

  • Fistful of Talent Top Talent Management blogs
    Alltop, all the top stories

Archive for the ‘profiles’ Category

Making more Top Talent with better job fit

Posted by Meg Bear on October 16, 2009

TRAs a Maximizer theme the concept of Top Talent is an especially personal one.   In fact, I have managed to get a team of directs that are all Achievers, which was something I knew about them, before I even knew there was such a theme.

When I think about using a Talent solution to get business value, I have to know what business leaders want.  What keeps a business leader up at night? Is it wondering if their team will meet their Performance bell curve?  Or if they will be using a 3 or 5 point rating scale?  I’m guessing not.  In fact the entire performance process is a means to an end, to a business person (or conversely a PITA but I’d rather not cover that part in this blog).

What a business leader wants is to be successful.  Successful in their business, seen as capable to their leadership and exceeding on their objectives.  For business leaders to scale they need teams who are able to deliver for them.  Here is where we get back to top talent and job fit.

When people are doing the job that is best suited to their strengths, they become top talent.  Making that connection between individual motivation and job role is not just a touchy-feely ideal, it’s smart business.

The better I can position people to do what they do best, the more they do for me. The more they do for me, the more I can do for my boss and my organization.  So, to me as a business leader, the more top talent I have the more successful I am.

So what I want from a talent solution, is to help me get people aligned into job roles based upon their strengths.  When I can do this, I get all the goodness from the rest of the talent strategies.  Goal alignment and attainment become easy,  engagement improves and overall output  is optimized.

To make all this work for me, I need more data.  I need data that I have never captured before.  Not just your competencies but your strengths.  Not just your career plan, but your motivations.  The more rich data I have, the better job I can do getting people to become top talent.

So now we are back to systems and scale.  Systems today have a better ability to gather and make use of data.  With the rise of social software, and a heightened awareness of the importance of a personal brand, people are volunteering more data than ever before.

These are exciting times for those of us who are allowed to find unique opportunities between technology and business. For awhile now I’ve been anticipating a shift in what defines a talent solution.  Initially I thought it was just my own personal boredom with having done this for so long, but now I realize that what I have really been doing is a lot of thin slicing to get to the most obvious of “a ha” conclusions.

The job of a talent solution is not really to measure talent.  The goal of a talent solution is to use the measurement of talent to drive better business results.  If you are just doing the former and not getting the latter you are missing out.  It’s time to think bigger about what can and should be possible with technology.

Are you doing that today?  Is that your talent strategy?  If not why not?  What is your plan?  Hit me with the comments and give me your ideas, I promise to use them for your benefit.

Posted in Career Development, engagement, Innovation, Job Fit, leadership, performance, profiles, social network, talent review, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

Don’t spin your wheels! Taking baby steps on the rocky road of talent management

Posted by Louise Barnfield on March 2, 2009

I was on my bike this morning…I mean literally and recreationally, not figuratively and professionally. I’m hoping I won’t hear the words “On yer bike!” in the office any time soon.

I’m no @lancearmstrong or @vendorprisey, both of whose blogs and tweets I avidly follow, but I’m training for my first big event since my last 100-mile ride. Three years on, and very little bike-time in between, it’s pretty much like starting from scratch, which might have been rather depressing if I’d thought about it too much.

I was unexpectedly on my own this morning, and was oh-so-tempted to skip the big hill that I’d planned to climb with a friend before she bailed on me. The complete circuit starts with a steep (my kind of steep, not Thomas Otter’s!!) climb up to a college campus that sits on the crest of the hill. At the top, there’s a 3/4 descent down the far side, then other climb back up before returning down the hill to the start point. All-in-all, the whole thing is pretty daunting for a first timer, which is how I was feeling this morning.

However, I knew it had to be done sometime, and if I avoided it today, I’d only have to face the whole thing for the first time next week. So, I figured procrastination was no escape. Still, I admit I wimped out of the complete circuit, and just did the initial climb up to the top before retracing my steps. Actually, I prefer to think of it as intelligent partitioning! It was more manageable than I feared, I know I can do more next time, and I felt good…in fact, I still feel good!

Isn’t this the same logical approach that we should take to larger scale challenges? If any task seems too daunting, don’t bite off more than you can chew, but don’t let it put you off starting! Start with something that’s more easily accomplished, but still satisfying. If you choose your starting point carefully, there are invariably gains to be made that will stand you in good stead for the next bite of the apple.

Often, we’re told that effective employee development and performance measurement begins with a full-blown competency library. Many HR professionals are daunted by the challenge of creating an entire competency model for their organization, which they perceive as mandatory for an efficient, comprehensive talent management strategy. Isn’t it easier to avoid the issue altogether, rather than face a project that requires too much time and resources before you are able to prove any ROI? Not so! There are ways to scale down the problem, to jump start your program so that the organization is benefiting from the initial achievement while you continue to implement future stages.

Successful organizations have started by defining and implementing a few core competencies for their workforce, before identifying more specific requirements for individual divisions or roles. Their next step might be to profile only those jobs that are critical to the organization…which are not necessarily the C-level or executive positions. A retail business might, for example, perceive the most critical role as their counter staff who are in direct and daily contact with customers, and can therefore most impact the business, either positively or negatively.

This kind of approach is particularly important during the current economic downturn, when organizations are looking to cutback any extraneous work, and get the most bang-for-their-buck from what’s left.

So, there I was on the bike, knowing that I had to tackle the college hill at some stage during my ride. I could have parked at the bottom of the hill and immediately started riding…uphill. Not smart! I can be dumb, but not that dumb! I preferred to start easy – to get a few easy, flat miles under my belt. By the time I reached the college entrance, not only were my legs warmed up but I’d enjoyed a very pleasant ride with superb views across a reservoir and surrounding hills. I was feeling gooood – inspired, enthusiastic, and approaching a hill that didn’t look anywhere near as daunting as it would have done half-an-hour earlier.

Starting easy with competency modeling can also be a no-brainer. Think of what you already have as a starting point – employees aren’t just a blank sheet of paper. Even if you don’t have a fully-fledged competency library, your employees have competencies and skills they’ve already achieved. So, use their history to build your future.

Talent review meetings, as a starting point, provide the incentive for managers to pull together this kind of information for an identifiable reason and recognizable benefits. Past performance reviews identify the abilities that each employee already has. That information should automatically feed into their employee profile, at the same time rewarding them for what they’ve already achieved. In turn, those profiles can feed into the talent review. Not two, but three birds with one stone!

…perhaps even four birds, since this approach could also make your performance reviews more palatable to your workforce, when they realize they have the makings of a decent employee profile with no added effort.

A truly integrated talent management solution enables you to insert, update, access information from multiple procedures. Of course, full TM integration goes way beyond the bounds of just performance and profile management, but this is one obvious starting point that more businesses should take advantage of when looking to kick start the TM process.

I’m not ready for my 72-mile ride around Lake Tahoe quite yet, but it was a pleasant way to start!
Onwards and upwards, I say!

Posted in competency, hr, profiles, talent review, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Get rid of performance reviews?!?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Dr Sam Culbert writes in the Wall Street Journal that performance reviews destroy morale, kill teamwork and hurt the bottom line.  I take pity on Dr Culbert’s manager, who must be tearing his or her hair out with Dr Culbert’s obvious distaste for the performance review process.  And I wonder what it is like to work at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.  Are they practising all the bad habits that Dr Culbert’s shares in his article?

If only Dr Culbert’s arguments made sense.  He is clearly trapped in a performance review timewarp.  His version of performance review is medieval, with the manager (who he consistently calls “the boss”) standing in judgement of the hapless employee, who meekly accepts the manager’s opinion.  There are however kernels of truth in Dr Culbert’s analysis, so let’s take a look at the modern (non-medieval) way of performance evaluation:

1.  We believe in the concept and vision of daily performance managementDr Culbert does make reference to this when he says the once-a-year judgement of performance is a poor vehicle for giving and receiving feedback.  And he’s 100% correct.  Our concept of daily performance management is that the manager and the employee have a continuous, ongoing dialogue regarding the employee’s performance and how it can be adjusted to make the employee successful and to make the organisation successful.  To enable daily performance management, we believe our applications shouldn’t limit the user to a once-per-year interaction.  The system should be open and flexible and it should facilitate more frequent interactions.

2.  We believe in a future-facing performance management environment.  Dr Culbert seems to hate having his manager look back at past events and indiscretions and pointing out how bad he was.  Poor sausage.  Instead, think about a system based on performance objectives or goals, where the manager and the employee discuss those goals upfront, and then they collaborate on achieving them.  Dr Culbert would think he’d died and gone to heaven!  In fact, it comes very close to Dr Culbert’s idea of “performance previews,” looking at collaborating to support future performance, rather than looking back at historical events.

3.  We believe in open lines of communication between the manager and the employee.  The thing that struck me reading Dr Culbert’s article was how often the problems he perceived could be dealt with by open communication.  Now, it is true that it takes effort for a manager to build trust that would facilitate this level of communication, and the employee has to play their part too, but that is not to say that it is impossible. 

4.  We believe in customised and relevant content in the performance evaluation.  One of Dr Culbert’s gripes is that “bosses apply the same rating scale to people with different functions” and that managers “don’t redo the checklist for every different activity.”  Well, of course, that would be silly and unhelpful.  So our applications provide the ability to define precisely the content and measurements for each job, so that the manager and the employee have specific and relevant attributes that define success for each role.  And over and above that, the manager and the employee can define specific and personal objectives that apply only to that employee.  By supplying a library of skills, competencies and accomplishments, and by defining highly specific job profiles, our applications will help managers and employees to understand what the baseline expectations are.

Dr Culbert’s right about improvement:  “[it] is each individual’s own responsibility.”  So let’s have a performance management system that helps the individual clearly identify the opportunities.  And he’s right about trust too:  there needs to be a high level of trust between manager and employee.  So let’s have a performance management system that supports building of trust, rather than tearing it down.

Posted in Career Development, competency, engagement, goals, leadership, performance, personal, profiles, succession planning, teams, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Leading the Informal Learning Revolution

Posted by Ken Klaus on September 19, 2008

Last week I attended the CLO Breakfast Seminar in San Francisco, hosted by CLO Media, where we discussed how to define, deliver and measure learning’s value to an organization – essentially how do we justify the time and money we spend providing learning opportunities for our employees.  Now the hippie in me needs to tell you that there is absolutely no reason to ever defend the time and expense of training your workforce.  Learning is an end in itself and I think in this case the ends definitely justify the means.  But the reality is most of us hippies moved out of the commune and into the corporation a long time ago, which means we do have to justify how we spend our company’s training dollars.


Truthfully, this used to be a far easier task, because the way learning was consumed (mainly in the classroom) gave instructors the opportunity to immediately evaluate the impact of the course material using surveys and assessments; but over the past several years learning has undergone some significant changes.  The classroom is no longer the center of the learning experience.  Social networking, the new informal delivery methods like blogging, wikis chats, forums, etc., and the introduction of millennials into the workforce have radically reshaped how employees both work and learn.


At last weeks CLO seminar, Bob Lee, Learning Solution Strategist for Cisco, stated that today most companies are still investing nearly 70% of their learning budgets in traditional learning methodologies (classroom training, self-paced desktop courses, webinars, etc.) even though nearly 70% of the learning employees consume is now through informal methods, like blogs, wikis, forums, chats, etc.  This means learning executives not only must adapt their learning programs to accommodate these new methodologies, but they must also lead the way in demonstrating the value these new tools bring to the organization.  The question is, how do we measure the value of informal learning?


At Oracle we’ve been using social networking and informal learning tools for a good while now, at least within the applications division, and from what I’ve observed there are some easy ways for learning administrators to gauge the value of informal learning brings to their business.  They can start by simply asking their employees – ask them which of these tools they are using, how often they use them, and how effective they are.  They should also ask how often the employee simply consumes information vs. how often they contribute to the knowledge base as authors, responders or reviewers; because I think active participation vs. passive consumption is the best measurement of the value these tools bring to your organization.


In addition to employee based valuation, learning executives must also link these informal learning methodologies to the employee’s profile, performance and development plans.  The simple fact is people want credit for the learning they complete and today most learning management systems only record the learning in which an employee formally enrolls.  Very few solutions provide a way to capture the informal learning (the 70% or more) employees consume; not to mention a way of integrating this content with performance goals and development plans.  Oracle’s Enterprise Learning Management application includes a supplemental learning tool that allows administrators to define and configure non-traditional learning methods like blogging, wikis, and forums which employees can then use to create custom learning records.  Afterwards, these entries can be associated with specific learning objectives and performance goals which are in turn reflected on the employee’s profile record.  This is one way to give employees credit for the informal learning they complete, but learning management solution providers must get beyond the traditional enrollment model and begin to rethink the way learning is delivered and consumed.

Finally, learning executives need to make a commitment to informal learning.  Peruse any edition of your favorite talent management publication, attend any talent management conference, or browse any of the talent management blogs on the internet today and what you will find is a vast dialogue on the social networking – informal learning – web 2.0 revolution.  This revolution is not something that’s coming – it’s here already; and learning executives ought to be the architects and champions of these new methodologies.  They should be leading the fight to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of informal learning – not only in reducing costs, but also in supporting and achieving the business objectives of their company; because learning methodologies will come and go, but good leadership will always be in-style.

Posted in leadership, learning, performance, profiles, social network | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Profiles: The Foundation

Posted by Mark Bennett on July 18, 2008

Continuing Meg’s discussion about realizing the strategic value of integrated talent suites, let’s start with the foundation of Profiles.

The notion of building talent management suites on a foundation of competencies has been around for some time now. Competencies were seen as a natural mechanism for connecting the various talent applications together with a common “currency.”  An employee could be rated on competencies in the performance management application, they could locate courses in the learning management application that would help develop competencies, etc. One problem has been that it’s been very difficult for companies to develop competency models that truly impact their strategic success. As Meg described, the result has been more tactical, talent process automation in nature.

Lately, talent management suites are being built on top of a Profile foundation. The concept of Profiles is rooted in the idea behind competencies, but expands beyond competencies to encompass other characteristics (or attributes) as well. These characteristics can include things like certifications, experience, interests, travel preferences, potential, and so forth. Some look at this as a “fall-back” solution to having trouble in developing a competency model, but another way to look at it is as a way to model more things your talent should possess that matter in your company than just through competencies. If it helps to get things started by simply dealing with education, licenses, and so forth, at least it’s a start. More importantly, folks have also pointed out that attributes can more readily describe, and in a more granular way, what it is that makes a person effective in their role, beyond what competencies alone can do.

With Profiles, a company has a way to know, across the organization, who knows what, who has what skills, certifications, who has what experience or practice, etc. What’s also important and starts to make things more strategic is when a company models what characteristics are required in jobs and organizations and how effective someone can be in that role that has those attributes. We can think of this as introducing a kind of “exchange rate” that helps you understand the meaning and value of the attribute “currency.” Competency Gap Analysis has been around for a while, but Profiles takes things to another level. Having a richer set of variables to compare when searching for someone against a role, or when an individual is looking for ways to develop themselves, is very helpful.

With profiles giving you a way to track what your company’s talent has and describe what your company needs, you have the foundation from which to impact your strategic success. Now you can use analytics to find which attributes really do result in higher performance in a role. Some of these might still be competencies, but you also might discover other attributes that either more directly predict better performance or that demonstrate a positive effect on competencies that in turn result in better performance. When you couple that analysis with an analysis of what roles are “pivotal” in your organization, you are really beginning to get a handle on how your talent can improve your strategic success. Now you are starting to see what your strategy needs in order to be effectively executed. In addition, you can also uncover untapped opportunities to leverage your talent to gain even further competitive advantage. Finally, you can even go deeper and find where the “sweet spots” are in terms of how an attribute impacts performance (and how performance impacts business results). For example, at what number of hours of training, number of projects in an area involved in, level of proficiency in a given competency, etc. do benefits start to level off?

To sum up, Profiles give you a better ability to understand how (and where, and how much) improvement in attributes results in better performance and how much improved performance impacts strategic success.

So how does the integrated talent suite fit in? Now, instead of just measuring activities (e.g. number of applicants processed, number of reviews completed, etc.), we can better understand the effectiveness of our HR processes in terms of achieving our strategic goals. We can link the results of the acquisition, development, and performance processes with the results of the business. Furthermore, we can better relate those HR processes to better decision making by line managers. For example, management in partnership with HR can better understand whether to invest more or less in acquisition vs. internal development (as well as for what attributes). Together, they can better understand what works and what doesn’t in making the acquisition pipeline effective. Opening the lens a little wider, HR and management can better decide how those investments in processes should change in reaction to external forces like economic, regulatory and competitive change.

Posted in analytics, competency, profiles, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »