We’ve been doing a pretty good job with Talent Management in my opinion. We have pretty much deployed our systems or are in the midst of doing so. We have reengineered our core talent processes from talent acquisition to performance to succession to learning and compensation. We have started to grow our talent thinking past these core processes to workforce planning and internal mobility, partly spurred by the news that our demographics are changing so significantly with soon-to-be retirees and a generation of workers coming at us that needs transitions at a much more rapid pace than ever before.
What we have not necessarily figured out is not about acquiring, developing and upgrading employees. It’s about preparing the workforce and taking a very broad view of the workforce as an organism rather than as a large set of employees. As we went though the last series of layoffs and reorganization in 2009, we realized that our layoffs created gaps that still remain unfilled as we continue into better economic times in 2010.
We know (ok – we probably don’t, but it’s a goal maybe) exactly how much of every competency we need to have in the organization. In order to be able to make a particular organizational sales goal, we can probably measure the total amount of sales competency and the aggregate achievement level in each of those sales competencies – using this, we should be able to predict annual sales achievement in a variety of economic conditions. It’s basically a type of multiplier – more sales competency * average economic times yields better sales results than a lower level of competency within the organization.
So we have done a pretty good job acquiring and developing talent – at least we’re focused on it if we are not doing it in a formulaically structured way as I have illustrated. We’re also focused on workforce planning. We know that we have a retirement cliff coming. 5 years ago we said it was going to be in 5 to 15 years. Well, we’re there now, and if we didn’t already prepare – we are in the middle of it. We were training our people so they could fill the leadership and senior contributor positions that were going to be vacated. Along side the cliff of retirees, we didn’t necessarily see the layoffs of 2009 coming. We ended up with an environment where we were letting go of some pretty good people, offering early retirements, and cutting competencies from the organization as a whole. We did all of this without really measuring what the aggregate competency gap was going to be.
I’m a total believer that we should be doing individual talent management. We should absolutely be positioning individuals to achieve success through their career and succession plans. We should have performance processes that actually motivate people to achieve goals. Along side this, if we are not tying these individual programs to a broader organizational talent objective, we have missed the boat. Talent happens at 2 levels. We need to keep people as individuals, but our workforce plans need to be actionable at the individual level – not theoretical plans that help us prepare our organizations and fill senior seats, but aggregate competency levels.