Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Accountability for Talent Management

Accountability for Talent Management

New research finds talent-management processes are in place, but underused. Plans don't translate to reality because too few organizations hold managers or executives accountable or to compensation packages to drive the strategy.

First, the good news from a new study from Hewitt Associates and the Human Capital Institute: Most companies now have a talent-management strategy in place.

The bad news? Very few of those companies are executing that strategy successfully.

So says the newly released research that identified lack of accountability for talent management as a key reason companies have difficulty executing talent-management practices. In short, plans on paper don't translate to reality in the workplace when it comes to developing and retaining talent.

"Most organizations have the fundamentals in place," says Bob Campbell, leader of Hewitt's North American Talent Management practice in the Norwalk, Conn., office. "The question is where do we go from here?

"What we saw emerging as a key issue," he says, "is developing manager capability to carry out the practices in place. Despite the distractions, it has never been more important than in these challenging times that managers have a steady hand on the tiller to coach employees and guide brighter future prospects.

"The research, entitled The State of Talent Management: Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Opportunities, included input from 700 senior-level talent leaders across a wide spectrum of companies.

Among the findings:

a) 92 percent of business leaders recognize superior talent as providing a vital competitive advantage.

b) Only 7 percent of organizations consistently hold managers accountable for developing their direct reports through performance- management processes.

c) Just 17 percent of respondents indicate their workforce strategy is consistently aligned with their business strategy across the organization.

d) Only 10 percent of companies consistently measure the effectiveness of talent-management programs.

The survey largely confirms the challenges that have long vexed many HR professionals, says Carl Robinson, managing principal of Advanced Leadership Consulting in Seattle.


"Even though many companies say that people are their most important asset, they often don't build in the systems and processes to develop their people," Robinson says. "While the findings here are common sense, I think they are useful. The reality is that talent management is so low on the priority list that surveys like this can remind senior executives to pay attention."

In his work with corporate leaders and companies, Robinson has found several repeating themes as to why talent-management processes are not adhered to and strategies are not executed.

Among them:

a) Not enough time.

b) Compensation systems that do not incent managers to develop people.

c) CEOs rarely model behavior consistent with talent-management strategies.

d) Inadequate funding for talent-management execution.

"The reality is that organizations have to build accountability for talent management into managers' and executives' compensation packages," Robinson said. "It has to be part of the compensation review and people need to dinged for not developing their people effectively.

"The companies Hewitt and HCI, a Washington-based membership organization focuses on talent research and strategies, found that made significant strides in managing talent have effectively institutionalized specific talent-management programs, such as conducting talent reviews, performing succession planning and improving manager ability to further develop employees, according to the researchers.

For HR leaders aiming to beef up execution of talent-management strategies, Campbell of Hewitt suggests focusing on three steps.

1. Determine the most critical areas of the business to support. Ask what aspects of talent management are most closely aligned with the company's top business priorities.

2. Position HR to be the internal experts on talent management. Present the HR department as a professional consulting team, equipped to provide guidance to managers and insights to company leaders.

3. Measure the results. Use predictive analytics and metrics to determine if talent-management initiatives are being implemented and are effective.

Katherine Jones, president of San Mateo, Calif.-based Independent Consulting Services who worked on the research with HCI, said talent-management measurement is essential particularly in "times of belt-tightening."

"In the past, many company had no way to assess where there top talent was," Jones says. "Today, in the current economic environment, it becomes incumbent for a company to look closely at the talent they have now what they will need in a year or two years.
"When dealing with turbulent times you can't have a slash-and-burn mentality," she says. "You have to know who your top talent is and keep those people."

Ref: Scott Westcott

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