Zen And The Art Of Talent Management
Bells and whistles and corner offices aside, talent management is dedicated to one basic question, right? Who’s next? From tending the pipeline right through issues of succession, we are tasked with populating a world whose needs never end. May get stormy, may get depressed, but talent needs work and work needs talent.
Downturns lead to upturns, fortunately: the BLS reported that job opportunities increased to 5.4 million this April, with a substantial rise in openings concentrated in professional and business services. The number of hires and separations (quits, layoffs and discharges) stayed nearly the same as the month before: hires were at 5 million; turnover was 4.9 million.
Parse and massage stats like this all you want (e.g. STEM jobs; entry-level; fast-tracks, geography), but anyway you shuffle it, that’s a huge deck of talent to manage. Takes a steady head and, lately, a whole lot of tech.
Given the radical transformation of tools and data available and the new imperatives posed by a global and multigenerational workforce, we also know that HR is taking on a far greater role than just staffing up. With disruption has now come a profound change: Talent is now understood as a huge value issue: most business leaders see people as the key investment for long-term growth. So the next question isn’t a who. It’s a what.
With all those remarkable HR tech innovations we get to feel like kids in a candy store. All these sweet tools to facilitate onboarding, drive and track employee engagement, conduct assessments, even improve workplace culture and allow for employee movement. And: analytics, metrics; reflective and predictive. A mega-bounty of software and choices; soaring well above the $15 billion mark as an industry.
But. Here’s the what’s next part. We’re still in that candy store, picking from disparate bins, just paying attention to the basics. HR research and advisory firm Bersin by Deloitte reported that a 86% of organizations in 2013 were still focused primarily on basic (reactive) reporting.
Now what we need is protein. As in: a singular centralized, capable platform that can run the whole family of functions, so instead of reacting we’re proacting; instead of managing we’re able to lead.
So how is this going to work and what does it look like? Two essential predictions:
- Micro And Macro
To handle the cloud requires smarter aggregating and maintenance of talent data. The first wave of cloud-based data brought a sudden, sheer volume that triggered a kind of panic of functional diversification. Now we have multiple systems for managing data, from individual performance to larger institutional and organizational trends. It’s micro monitoring and macro future casting. But it needs to all be unified into one agile, responsive, enormous (yes) function.
- Three Dimensional
The past, present and future play equally in smart analytics. Instead of one data stream for depicting past trajections, another tool for investigating the present and still another for predicting future needs, they all need to work in tandem. Managing talent supply now requires that we leverage a full spectrum of data: all three dimensions, but in real time — not in the aggregate.
Notice I haven’t mentioned social, but that’s because by now, it’s a given; the way we use it is going to have an incredible impact on organizational success in the future. But I will say that it’s the changing culture of talent management that is leading us into a singular, open approach to how we answer that perennial question. Faced with a marvelous toolbox, we now need that the one single tool that can do it all.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.