Play It Again Sam – Looking Through HR’s Crystal Ball – Prediction Six of Nine – Talent Mobility and Career Management Strategies

Talent Moving WEBIn the January/February issue of HR Magazine, Josh Bersin with Deloitte, makes nine predictions of “what’s in store for HR in 2015.”   This is part six of a series of nine articles looking at each of these predictions.

While an old classic, this melody has a different tempo than in times past. Managing talent may have been a distant hum in the past as the workforce played a different theme. The theme used to be that workers got a job and stayed put until retirement. However, that theme is reaching a crescendo because the workforce is anything but stable today. The workforce today is much more mobile according to Bersin. We’ve all seen this to be true as both employee and company loyalties have become a requiem. In addition, the younger generation doesn’t seem to crave that gold watch.

On a different note, Bersin suggest that the reason talent management has become so important today is that “…it’s good business. High performing companies around the world have highly tenured people.” This means they have a lot of knowledge about the company, they are skilled, and they have built up productive relationships during their tenure. This is money in the bank. This is true for two reasons. Hiring new people is expensive and it may take years for them to reach the productivity level of a tenured employee. However, there is a word of caution due here.

Internal promotions can be carried too far. New talent must be brought in periodically or an organization runs the risk of drying up their internal pool and failing to have enough diverse ideas, skills, and talent to meet market trends and move the company forward. Moreover, an organization and the employee are wise to understand each of their responsibilities in both career development and succession planning.

The needs of the organization and those of an employee are much like much like staccato and legato or in direct opposition. The below modified chart of the one created by Heinz Weihrich, professor at University of San Francisco and author of over 60 business books, serves to illustrate this conundrum.

                      Organization                            Employee
Concern for operations, productivity, profit, and filling rates in the organizational structure Concern for Self- actualization and self-fulfillment
Concern for all members of the organization and the best use of talent Concern for self; How best to use own potential
Need skills for all positions as well as specific, well-developed skills Want only challenging work; can be bored by routine work even if a specific skill
Need for managers with matching skills in locations for best productivity and profitability Want location suitable to self and family

In many cases both the organization and the employee fail to pay sufficient attention to career development. Every individual must take responsibility for his or her own career development. For example, anyone who wants to advance in a career must ask the question, “Am I willing to pay the price for what it takes to avoid a monotone career?” In other words, if a certification, degree or advanced degree is necessary, is the individual willing to incur the expense and grind it out? If relocation is required, is the employee willing to uproot a family for the opportunity? Is the worker willing to enter a mentor or coaching program? Does the individual try to match career development with the organization’s goals and objectives? Many times the answer is no; and it is every individual’s responsibility to be honest about the price he or she is willing to pay and to accept the consequences of the decisions one makes.

On the other side of the sheet music, the organization, as it turns out, also bears responsibility for the careers of its community. Managers can play a role in helping their direct reports or mentees with career planning ensuring that the plan encompasses the organizations strategic goals. The organization can provide training, information on demand, mentoring, and coaching programs. While most coaching programs are reserved for the top executives and promising managers, you might consider three options for others.

  1. Offer a group career coaching course and see who signs up. You might be surprised.
  2. Offer coaching to those who do show some promise and are interested. If it is offered and refused, you have more information than you might have gained in a year. Of course always build in forgiveness should the lightbulb come on.
  3. Coaching could even be offered as a perk for work well done or longevity or on a work anniversary.

The trick in any of the three offerings listed above is to work closely with the coach to ensure that the organization’s aims are incorporated. Another path to managing talent is one utilized by Black Rock, the world’s largest asset management firm. Their solution is a Human Capital Committee made up of 35 members, only one of which is from HR. Black Rock realizes that changes are needed to meet the needs of today’s graduates in order to preserve the company’s strategic initiatives for growth, it’s commitment to a better financial future for its clients, and the organization’s own profitability.

These types of programs are as difficult to create and implement as a piece of classical music is to compose and execute. As an article in Harvard Business Review suggests, it is not an easy task to balance complexity and ambiguity; strategy and execution; meet global and local needs; be consistent and agile; all while remaining superior. What’s in your succession plan?

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