The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


Corporate Strategy & Talent Management

systematicHR Avatar

A long (very long) time ago, I used to captain a cycling team.  I had a crew of about 6 people that raced every week, and we all had our objectives and our roles.  As part of our weekly training for races, we would drill the sprinter on sprinting exercises, have the guys who would chase down breakaways doing crazy intervals, the climbers climbing, etc.  At races every week, our goal was to win primes (sprints that occur in the middle of races) or place in the final sprint.  We almost always had a specific formula.   I would send one of my guys out to the front of the 50+ rider group and ride as fast as possible from about 1.2 miles out from the finish.  I would collect the group behind me (usually 1 very fast guy plus a sprinter) and I would read the pack for the inevitable final break.  It’s not really a breakaway more than just a last acceleration.  If you chose the wrong acceleration, and go too early or late, you end up 15 spots behind choosing the right acceleration.  So I got to pick the “jump” and my 2 guys would just follow me as I followed a couple guys from other teams.  My job was never to win, it was to watch as the race developed around me and make sure my guys got launched at the right place and time, and have every possible chance to succeed.  Even while managing my guys individually throughout the week, and managing each individual race, the result of the individual race was never the point.  The real point was that if we wanted to say sponsored, we needed to place enough times in the year to attract enough money to keep us racing the next year.  (thank God I was never the sponsorship guy)

I sometimes wonder when we are designing talent processes, if we are paying enough attention to corporate strategy.  Each individual activity from process mapping to talent service delivery to technology selection should be hinged upon the overall corporate strategy.  I’ll give a simple example:  Let’s say that you are in a high growth mode.  You’re expanding into new markets or products, and the C-level execs expect you to have enough talent to get this done quickly before other competitors beat you to the punch.  Compensation has outlined a pay philosophy to lead market rates which allows you to acquire and hopefully retain highly talented individuals more easily.  HR has also developed a philosophy to pay for contribution rather than performance.

As a result of all this, the Talent organization should have developed a performance process that rewarded people not on the attainment of job descriptions or even role based goals.  Instead, performance should have been measured against competency growth and other attributes that contribute to organizational growth, not organizational maintenance.  Merit and incentive payments should have been disclosed with considerable transparency to disclose how individual actions create corporate value and result in growth in the targeted sectors.  Internal mobility programs should not just be filling jobs and moving people around, but specifically looking at how to move high quality talent to areas of the business that can use them most aggressively.

I know we do a lot of things that are process or employee specific.  I also know that each of these actions has a clear positive impact at the employee and organizational level.  But I question if we are sufficiently linked to our corporate strategies and if we know exactly how those linkages play out from an action to benefit perspective.  let me know if you have any answers.

systematicHR Avatar