Who will own performance management?

Dave Lefkow asks “who will own performance management?” I have several responses.

Finally, a talent acquisition guy who realizes that talent management is not just recruiting. For ages, the talent acquisition vendors have been calling themselves talent management. Sure, it’s a component, but you don’t see companies like SuccessFactors suggesting that their performance product is a talent management solution. Certainly one component cannot be categorized at a TM solution. Thanks Dave.

Will TMS be owned by the point solutions or the ERP’s? At this point, I really don’t know. To me, the Point solutions have a nice head start, but this is due to the ERP’s not having good functionality for a long time. It is only recently that the ERP’s have focused on the talent functionalities, and their effort is showing. PeopleSoft’s eRecruit 8.9 is challenging the recruiting point solutions in a big way, and as I’ve mentioned before, SAP’s entire performance and compensation suite is looking good as well. I’ve long argued that it will be hard for new entrants to the talent management market. However, I can’t consider the ERP’s to be new entrants even though they have had little market share. They should be able to lever their existing relationships in HR to build new market share in this area. We’ll see who wins, but for now, the market diversity is a positive thing. (let’s not get into the SaaS versus ERP argument here)

And not to the real question of “who” will own talent management internally within HR. I disagree with Dave that talent management organizations don’t exist. They may not be as prevalent as their components of OD, learning, compensation, etc. More and more, these organizations are not transforming, but I think they are asked to collaborate under an entity that has a talent point of view – for example under a “VP of Talent.”

The question of who owns TM is quite interesting. In the world of Dubs where my rigidly unshifting paradigm that compensation creates order in the world of HR, I still think that compensation is a major contributor. In the world of talent where the critical driver is engagement, and the driver of engagement is the quality of the “work” compensation build the foundation, but recruiting, performance, learning all must collaborate to create a cohesive program that makes sense through the entire employee lifecycle.

As Dave notes, it’s not the application capabilities that create value, but the people and processes that are driven from the technology. I’d take it a step further and say that the talent organization must then build a value proposition and a work environment that engages your workforce.

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19 thoughts on “Who will own performance management?”

  1. Pingback: KnowHR Blog
  2. Incentive Intelligence writes here that it’s not the technology or the HR group that owns performance management, but that it is the manager.

    First, a couple of notes: Personally I could care less who owns performance management. I think Dave Lefkow probably feels the same, but we were trying to get at who owns the overall talent management aspect of the HR practice. Performance is convenient because that’s what everyone does first.

    Second: I was pretty clear that I did not state who I thought should own the practice, but gave compensation as a leading example of they type of cross functional contribution that all talent components have on each other. I also thought I was clear is stating that I was looking within the HR function.

    Incentive Intelligence says: “the manager at the company where the performance occurs owns the performance management task.” In a sense, s/he is correct. It’s up to the managers to adopt and implement the programs, and I agree they are where the rubber meets the road. But without the program, great tools, and great change management, we pretty much know that most managers will do nothing.

    So I think Incentive Intelligence names who is responsible for executing on the plan, but that’s still not ownership. I mention above that at the end of the day, it’s the work and our ability to engage employees that matters. HR owns the value proposition and the engagement. The manager is the partner we rely on to execute.

  3. I think before you can ask, who owns TM, you need to ask or define TM purpose. I could answer here with various recommendations and there are so many ways to design TM, It is my belief without a well defined purpose that defines the motivation for culture, leadership, change and innovation you may define a “user friendly” technology that does not support the “art of leadership” or the people who are part of the social network pool of talent.

    A system of thought that enable “pay for performance” , the equity factors that comprise compensation for workers and shareholders need close examination in the early stage of defining a TM system. The groups of leaders and how they engage with portfolio workers to imagine a purpose and define the DNA for a performance system is an investment of conversation I view critical to the successful adoption of any technology platform, e.g. Success Factors.

    Early stage companies often give too much attention to “raising money” and letting investors dominate or define the rules of engagement and disregard the need for a talent management system that engages people early stage to create shared value and use investment to generate a stable and steady growth pattern in preparation for a major leap in roi. Google is one of the few companies in which I watched this at work. However, there culture is just an advancement of early stage Netscape and does not address the issues companies have to address when they move into maturity. When Success Factors leaped beyond it’s sales force to invite in talent, ROI was reshaped for an advantage with a behavior of a mature company– I have not see this kind of culture fostered in many ventures, except in small women enterprises that value all employees and what they can contribute.

    In my experience, most investors have no real regard or understanding of talent management. Steve Jobs did in Apple’s early stage and returned to foster that after MBATechnocrats, e.g. Sculley, Spindler and Amelio failed.

    The question for me becomes are we shooting to manage talent for a rate of return like the expected $900M or 60X rate of return defined by BioPharm in the 90’s or are we in going for a more conservative mode in which everyone (the talent, shareholders, and core groups) can learn how to foster talent and pay for a job well done. If you focus there, it is my belief a team cross department facilitated by a strong OD leader to foster learning and systems thinking will lead to formation of a sustainable talent system that empowers leadership.

    A new summit is being formed as a partnership between CIMBA and Strategy and Business Magazine and others called The First Global NeuroLeadership Summit. I predict the dialogue that emerges out of that summit is going to move leadership thinking beyond the idea of “Who controls?”. I don’t believe a TM is about “who controls?” Quality TM, BPO, HRM and more from my perspective grows out of authoring a leadership thought form based on learning, cooperation and system thinking and adopting this thought form through people into practice.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. Is is safe to say that HR would own the responsibility for understanding the strategic needs of the organization, validating those needs with the functional management, and establishing systems and processes that enable management to act on their needs? If so, I would agree with that.

    What I think I was trying to communicate is that as a manager in a smallish company (250 employees) I believe it is my responsibility to understand the needs across my management team (my same level) and be constantly on the look out for talent – or identifying talent in my own group that may be better served moving to one of my colleagues groups. I own that responsibility. I look to the HR function in my own organization to bring me the things I don’t know about – new systems, new tools for identifying latent talent, new places to look for talent, and unfortunately, the legal rules and regulations relating to employees.

  5. In Response to Paul:
    Are we agreeing after all? Just some clarification I suppose, but I’m dissappointed. I like a good fight. maybe I’ll go pick on Sumser. 🙂

    In response to Rick:
    Again, I love a good fight, but I think we agree at the core of this one. My argument is that the whole point is to create engagement. At that point that engagement is achieved, you have self managing employees.

    And to Donald Taylor:
    Donald brings up a great point with the technology integration. I’d just keep broadening that to functional integration as well. I already used the job and compensation example, but I’ve also used the competency model here before. Competencies are a critical layer surrounding all of the talent processes. Both job and competencies (ideally) live in Core HR. Strategy is great, the next layer is the execution of the processes, and the end is the manager/employee interaction. All must happen without a hitch. Maybe this is why performance management sucks?

    Purhaps your question of the purpose is why we’re having so much trouble with this question. I’d suggest that the purpose is simple and goes back to my definition of HR strategy: “to shape the workforce” as ambiguous as it is. But it leaves room for each organization to interpret the appropriate approach for themselves.


  6. -Dubs..I really enjoy this blog, because you encourage people to think.

    In Art Kleiner’s book, Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Success, Art grapples with the purpose of the Core Group. In my experience both reading and thinking about this thought leadership, it really depends on how the core group interacts with the social network and the relationship of HR to the Core Group in a social network analysis before you can design a purpose that HR can own and act on.

    I have been for a number of years following the progress of Pay for Performance experts out of Ed Lawlor’s community and people who are workeffectiveness consultants internal to an organization. Based on what I have learned, HR practice is shaped effectively or ineffectively based on authoring a purpose and mission from which they can actually work. I find in HR, too many people make blanket states about HR responsibility and more without factoring in and developing a conversation where the core group and social network actually step forward and align on defining a networked relationship for the workforce within a company that is owned by the core group in service of their purpose and given the resources to work well for the social network at large (even beyond traditional forms of employment).

  7. I’m not sure if we agree or disagree yet. My only point was when the word “owns” or “ownership” come up I get a bit nervous. I liken it to when I hired a proofreader years ago and then the staff stopped proofing their own work because we now had someone on staff that “owned” proofreading and therefore proofreading wasn’t part of their job – someone else owned that task.

    When I hear that talent management is “owned” by HR I get the same feeling. What I think separates good from great (to borrow a phase) is when you begin to blur that ownership across multiple functions/departments/divisions. In other words there are no silos of ownership but peaks of focus that are connected by valleys of communication that connect those peaks (weird description but that’s the best I can do after spending 9 hours in airports today.)

    I do believe HR has a focus on talent management and they should reside at the intersection of all the talent needs of the company – but to confer the “ownership” word on them gives all others permission to be uninvolved.

  8. Great discussion here – and I think it is particularly relevant WRT PM. As I have posited before, many of the technology implementations for HR simply involve automating something (payroll, benefits, compensation administration) already being done. I call it “new plumbing”.

    True PM cannot be led as a technology project. And except in very rare instances, it can’t be led by HR. I think PM must be led by Sr. Line Management. Any other approach is likely to fail. For most organizations, moving from a non-PM culture to a PM culture is a huge shift, and there must be significant weight behind it. Starting at the top.

    Without this senior leadership and comittment over time, I think any PM initiative is doomed.

    So, does HR own PM? N0 – they do not. HR facilitates, designs, administers, coaches PM – but they do not own it.

    Tom O’Brien

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