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Archive for the ‘talent review’ Category

Secrets of a successful talent review – part 2

Posted by Justin Field on January 14, 2010

In my last post, I wrote about performance calibration as being one of the secrets of success for talent reviews.  But performance isn’t the only dimension of top talent.  The other dimension we look at is potential.  Now with performance, it’s well understood by most managers and executives, and we can place some measures around performance, to make it easier to pick the appropriate performance rating for an employee.

With potential, it’s so much harder.  We often get asked, what is this thing called potential?  And what does it mean?  Potential for what?  So we’ve tried to invest more time in educating managers and executives about our definition of potential and what it means.

In the talent review, we quickly found that some managers really get the idea of potential and how it can be applied to their business.  They understand that they have to build and grow the next generation of leaders.  They understand that most of the time it’s better to build and grow internally; and that only some of the time it’s better to buy talent externally — and really great leaders have the ability to distinguish between these two situations.

On the other hand, some managers were less solid in their understanding of potential and how to apply it to their organisations.  A high performer is not necessarily top talent, unless they also have high potential.  We saw a few cases where the employee’s performance was being rewarded, rather than focusing on the high performance and high potential employees, who have the potential to go one level up or even two levels up.

Now we’re thinking about what to do.  We don’t think quotas of top talent are the right way to go:  the “right” number of top talent depends solely on the requirements of the business.  In growth economies you need a solid bench of front-line and middle managers, with a good portion that have potential to grow to higher levels and lead the business into the future.  In mature economies, you need less of the accelerated pool, but you still need enough top talent to sustain the business.

We are tossing around ideas about getting much more specific and detailed in our measurement of talent.  At present we use questionnaire that is applied equally to individual contributors, front-line managers, directors, vice presidents and above.  It gives us a really good first cut of the population, but we need to take it to the next level.  We call this next level “second filter.”

What might this second filter be?  What would be involved?  Well it comes down to two parts:  defining what is necessary for success at the next levels (I like to call this “plus one” and “plus two”); and then putting in place measurement instruments that uncover a high potential employee’s individual fit with the success definition.

Our ideas fall into a number of different initiatives.  Some areas of the business use assessment centres successfully.  Here a group of high potential employees is brought together for a day or two.  They are intensively tested and assessed.  The results are analysed and fed back to the employees, to help them craft their personal development plan.

We’ve also looked at detailed behavioural interviews (similar to that proposed by Bradford Smart in Topgrading.)  Here, we’d have two consultants interview high potential employees, to gather information about their personal capability and motivation, compared to the success model.  The interview process also involves detailed one-hour reference check interviews, with two or more referees, to get independent validation of the high potential employee’s skills, capability and potential to grow.  The output of the interview processed is viewed from an organisation level, but also fed back to the employee, with development recommendations, so they can craft their personal development plan.

Another option is to use psychometric instruments like Hogan HPI.  This tends to give some view of the employee’s true potential, but we need to match this information with the employee’s motivation to achieve and their motivation to gain power and influence, to get the full picture.

So really, an ideal approach would be a blend of these initiatives.  It would give us concrete reliable information that is predictive of success:  we would know that certain characteristics lead to promotions and sustained high performance over time.

If you have other ideas about potential and how to measure true potential, leave a comment for me.

Posted in leadership, performance, succession planning, talent review, top talent | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Secrets of a successful talent review

Posted by Justin Field on December 22, 2009

Well, folks, we’ve just been through a talent review here.  You might think the process is fairly well understood and everything should just go smoothly, but of course, real life is not that smooth, and nor is a talent review.

One of the problems we faced was around the calibration of performance ratings.  Specifically, employees with a performance rating of 3 don’t get on the shortlist of top talent; those with 4 or 5, have a chance, but naturally we’re looking for high potentials among that population.

In the talent review, we discovered that some groups had been very strict with their performance ratings, and that other groups had been lenient.  For example, when sales quota was a key measurement of performance, some groups gave quota achievement of 100% a performance rating of 3; other groups gave quota achievement of 90% a performance rating of 4.  Result:  those cheap (easily won) 4’s distorted the shortlist of talent for that group; the hard won 4’s in other groups came closer to our true definition of top talent.

So what’s the secret of success?  I’ve always said that effective performance management is the true foundation of effective talent management.  You have to have a good grip on who the top performers are before you can start segmenting that group down to find the high potentials.  And in a large organisation, you’d better be sure that the measurement of performance is the same across groups, otherwise it destroys the credibility of the talent review.

My key learning for 2010 is two-fold:

  • We have to publish crystal-clear guidelines for groups regarding how to score performance based on key measurements.  We need a consistent approach across all groups.
  • After the majority of performance ratings are in the performance management system, we need a comprehensive calibration exercise, especially for those groups that will later do a talent review.  If we don’t make some effort to calibrate, the talent review itself becomes an exercise in performance calibration, when we really want the talent review to focus on high potential top talent.

Leave a comment with your views on calibrating performance and the impact on talent review.

Posted in performance, succession planning, talent review, top talent | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

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 »

Is the bell tolling for the bell curve?

Posted by Ken Klaus on February 14, 2009

the-bell-curve

In an entry I posted last year titled, Taking the number out of the equation: Performance evaluations without performance ratings, I extolled the virtues of eliminating the performance rating.  Well actually what I said was “I am willing to accept that assigning a rating value is an easy and (mostly) objective way of evaluating worker performance.  But I can see no need to ever share the rating assessment with the worker (me) – because the rating is not meant for me, it’s just a tool for my manager.”  Assuming, as I did, that the HR department was closely following my posts, no doubt with great enthusiasm, I anticipated my proposal would be implemented that very same week.  Alas, I am still waiting.  What’s more, in a cruel twist of irony or possibly just well deserved Karma, I was recently asked to manage an internal performance review process we’re conducting within the development organization.  I’m still trying to work out the horrors I commited in a past life to have earned this privilege, but never mind – that’s not really what I wanted to write about anyway.  Getting back to the previous post, in the sentence immediately preceding the one I quoted above, I said “I think the whole bell curve model is a pile of horse manure – but that’s a topic for another day.”  Happily, that day has arrived.

 

Over the past year I’ve been contemplating how companies facilitate their talent review meeting.  Central to the talent review process is a box-chart analytic, generally in a 3×3 configuration, which most in the industry simply refer to as the nine-box.  For the uninitiated, here’s an example:

Nine-box Analytic

What I like, scratch that, what I love about the nine-box model is the multi-dimensional feedback it provides; helping customers not just to see what’s happening in their organization, but what they need to do to better align their talent management strategy with their business strategy.  The nine-box discussion makes the talent review meeting a true business driver and not just another dead end discussion.  Talent review meetings help companies assess worker engagement, risk of loss, organizational diversity, candidates for succession, and development gaps and they provide a starting point for addressing these challenges as well.  By comparison the bell curve analytic just feels outdated and sadly monochromatic.

 

In the global battle to attract and retain top talent it may turn out that the people you need to succeed are already working at your company; but if you can’t discover, motivate, challenge, develop, promote and compensate them, the battle may already be lost.  Talent reviews are one way for companies to identify, develop and reward both their best performers and their high potentials; but they also help to reveal the underlying reasons for poor performance –  workers who are in the wrong role, who need additional training, who are being poorly managed or under compensated – as well as those who simply need to be managed out of the organization.  The one dimensional feedback provided in the bell curve will never help to surface these critical path issues.  The nine-box, by contrast, offers a multi-dimensional perspective of the organization that can serve as the anchor for the talent review meeting and the cornerstone of a holistic talent management strategy.

 

I’d love to hear what you think about the bell curve, the nine-box, talent review meetings, or any of the other talent management challenges facing your organization.  In the mean time I’m off to lead this internal performance review and hopefully earn a little good Karma in the process.  Wish me luck!

 

Posted in analytics, Innovation, talent review | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »