What’s Wrong with Talent Management – Replys

Nobody ever said I was un-opinionated. To those who may think I’m just an instigator, I actually do believe in what I’ve written and think that (1) performance is broken in 99.9% of the organizations out there, (2) HR does not do a good job in integrating our talent management capabilities to the rest of the corporate population. Before I go on with the last 2 posts in this series, I thought I’d respond to some of the comments and cross posts first.

Let me start with my favorite observation so far. Terrence Seamon’s post last year (which generally echo’s my dissatisfaction) actually called for a few improvements. The second recommendation was to replace the annual performance appraisal with annual development planning. It’s true that I simply haven’t seen performance appraisals work, and I’m not backing off of the idea that it’s broken. However as others have pointed out, (John McCoy and Dennis Smith in the comments) goals frequently aren’t stretch goals and are therefore not usually meaningful.

I draw a distinction between performance appraisals and employee development – both of these fall under a larger umbrella of employee development plans – which in turn falls under an umbrella of talent management. But employee development plans if implemented well with good tools, communication, and engaged managers, will provide the necessary framework to actually provide enhancements to employee growth and productivity. It’s true that employee development plans (looking and acting with forward momentum) should feed directly off of performance appraisals. In this way, the two practices should interact for a more successful future. However, the performance appraisal isn’t strategic. Performance is simply the data and it isn’t until you get to employee development plans that you’re actually changing and managing behaviors.

So what’s my problem? 99% of companies do performance management. 50% of companies think they do employee development plans, but only 10% really are, and of that maybe 5% do them adequately.

What’s my second problem? Software is wonderful. I love this stuff. TMS systems are getting so advanced in how they support the business that the capability of effectively managing the workforce is more possible than ever. The problem is that 60-70% (educated guess) of all TMS licenses out there are for performance modules. Another 20-30% of the licenses are for compensation. What’s left is workforce development, succession and the like. We’re so focused on the process (appraisals, merit increases) that we haven’t spent time on the planning and forward moving activities.

  • I still think performance is broken, butI think talent management is on the right track. But…
  • I think we in HR haven’t yet focused on the real capabilities in talent management and are not utilizing the tools available. And…
  • I think we haven’t deployed our knowledge as usable information to the board room.
  • I think (as Regina said) we haven’t engaged managers to really do a great job in the talent processes.

So to SuccessFactors: is it the house or the foundation? (I’m about to piss everyone off again) Even worse. It’s our ability in HR to focus on what’s important and execute.

Published by


systematicHR is a daily news and commentary site about HR strategy and technology.

13 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Talent Management – Replys”

  1. Hi Jeff

    The issue at the core is goal setting. Most organizations do goal setting twice a year and yet the job changes almost weekly.

    We in HR focus on executing the performance management process well and forget to either educate managers and employees on the goal setting process and therefore the root of the problem


  2. GG – much of the problem in talent management (generally) is the deployment to managers. Technology (workflow, good UI) helps the mission and enhances usability, but does not increase adoption. In too many cases, managers are 100% operationally focused and only grudgingly give time to the HR processes.

  3. I’ve used both performance mgmt and development planning (as the alternative). And both work but they don’t work – each has it’s pros and cons…To Gautam’s point since things change so quickly more of a rolling process…I think if you have a good performance mgmt system you are good at deploying goals and goal setting but you suck at setting the right metrics and measuring them, giving feedback on how you did compared to expectations, etc. We should have some kind of discussion forum on this right? Next Generation Performance Management???

  4. Too many times in too many companies talent isn’t managed well, if at all. I echo what you have said Dubs.

    I’ve seen it all too often that companies don’t put people in positions that play to thier strengths. In essence, they are set up to fail. In some cases talent is deemed successful by virtue of the fact that they haven’t failed.

    In my mind, development plans are the way to go without a doubt. But development plans must clearly articulate career pathing and identify gaps needed to be filled for progression. Typical performance management simply identifies qualities that are lacking. The employer needs to take some responsibility for development.

    How many times have y’all seen quality people passed over for promotion for some lacking skill, yet year after year they got great reviews but were never told what skills they needed to develop in order to progress? The blame for this lays squarely at the feet of the employer!

    Sure, systems can help mange this, but a cultural and paradigm shift is needed at most companies before software is deployed: otherwise it is just wasted expenditure.

  5. Seems like some of the elements of a new model are appearing:
    – Goals
    – Rolling process

    I would add:
    – Spot awards (“pay me now”) tied to outstanding performance

    – Year End increase tied to Company performance

    – Year End Recognition Awards (eligible if you had received one or more Spot Awards)

    – Focus on development

    – Coaching at all levels

    What else?

    Regina, Dubs, GG, and Max: When will we have our conference call?


  6. Max owes us a demo of success factors which I am holding him to…let’s figure out how to do the demo and at the same time have this conversation…then maybe we can pick a week or something that we all devote on or blogs to solving/addressing this topic – our best thinking, any best practices, our wildest ideas, implications good and bad etc.

  7. Regina: I’d forgotten all about the SuccessFactors demo. I’ve seen one, but would love to see another if it means a conversation with the top minds in the blogosphere!!!

    Waddya say Max?


  8. Hi, Double Dubs,
    Do you think if Talent Mgmt as an integrated HR policy it will be legally controversial and unworkable? Why?

  9. Emma:

    I do think of talent management as a cross functional HR practice (not policy). The process of managing talent involves just about every HR functions and really makes us think of how we apply those functions and the end result of each function action on the human capital component.

    Honestly, I’m not sure where you’re going with the legally controversial argument. I really can’t think of any reasons why it would be problematic. Let me know if you have any specific examples.


Comments are closed.