Human Resources has been an evolving field almost since its inception. Starting with Personnel departments, whose initial roles were to maintain paper and files and make sure people got paid on time to expanding their scope to an almost gatekeeper status in some organizations determining who was hired and fired and promoted. Personnel became Human Resources and cries for “a seat at the table” began in earnest, the function worked to better understand the businesses they worked in and establish ways to “add value.” Human Resources began to edge its way into Human Capital Management where savvy professionals worked to not just understand the business but integrate with it, contribute to the organizational strategy, and to lose the reputation of being nothing more than a necessary burden and cost center. Human Capital Management is on the verge of something new, but to understand that next iteration it’s important to look at the evolution of Talent Management.

Staffing became recruiting. Then organizations started to understand the value of not just hiring people but also developing them and training functions started popping up. Recruiting became talent acquisition. Training became employee learning and development. Organizations started to see value in building skills and knowledge beyond an employee’s current job. Employee discussions evolved into performance appraisals into talent reviews into performance management. These various foci started to circle around one another then bump into each other. Like a star being formed these bumps became collisions and soon all these separate parts exploded into something “new” – talent management.

Talent management became an “it” field, it was the hot place to be (it was the place I cut my teeth for a good part of my career). Talent Management became the focus of Human Resources and Human Capital Management functions far and wide. But a new generation of savvy professionals (along with past generations of the same ilk) have started to look beyond their own sandboxes, realized that people costs are their largest expense, and started to ask some important questions:

  • How can we increase efficiencies and effectiveness?
  • How do we create a performance culture?
  • What do we offer to employees (both current and prospective) that others don’t?
  • How do we help employees understand the value of their contributions and connect to our “why“?
  • How do our employees see us (the organization, the leadership, the business) and how can we shape that perspective?
  • What can we do to enable our teams to work smarter? More collaboratively? More innovatively?

Talent Management is dying (or at least morphing into something different and exciting), which means that Human Resources and Human Capital Management functions are going to need to take a moment for introspection, and ask themselves questions like those above, along with:

  • How do we measure, assess, and align our people with our strategy?
  • How do we go beyond partnering with other functions and become collaborators?
  • How can we move the culture, be more transparent, create an atmosphere of change?
  • How do we help our employees (both current and prospective) understand the value and rewards of working with our organization (beyond their paycheck and typical benefits)?
  • How do we push the organization to invest in its people? To reward our best performers? To push our middling performers to the next level?
  • How do we change the paradigm so that when we think about our people costs we think about our people investment?
  • How do we become integrated within our own function across specialties so employees are getting the most value from us?
  • How can we better use data to make decisions, drive decisions, and review the decisions we’ve made?

Talent Management is becoming something greater, it’s becoming the Employee Experience and it’s spanning every step of an employee’s relationship with an organization from their first application to the day they retire and beyond, and it’s Human Resources/Human Capital Management’s responsibility to foster and steward that shift both now and going forward, and it starts with asking some tough questions and challenging the organization to support the answers, or as someone much better with words than I once put it…

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.


Photo Credit: tienbienit_92 via Compfight cc

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