Talent Management Predictions for 2008
Posted February 7, 2008on:
“Come Together” by the Beatles. “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. “Let’s Get Together” by the Youngbloods.
If 2008 had a theme song, any one of these would do because integration is the name of the game this year in talent management.
“HR processes that have been sitting around for years are now getting tied together into business-driven talent management solutions to make sure that the people in the organizations are in the right jobs to help the organization grow,” said Josh Bersin, president and CEO of Bersin & Associates, a talent management research firm.
Why the emphasis on a unified approach? Growth and globalization of industries, coupled with the impending talent shortage, have led organizations to place more importance on developing leaders from within. But in order to do that, talent managers need to know who the high potentials are, what their aspirations are and how they like to work – and what better way to do that than to integrate the tools out there to get a more well-rounded look at available talent?
“There’s reorganization going on, strategy development and a lot of planning to figure out how to take the more traditional processes within HR and link them together to solve these business-critical problems,” Bersin said.
Expect to see increased focus on three specific areas: performance management, HR software and social networking.
Trend No. 1: Leadership Development and Performance Management
U.S. organizations will spend about $15 billion this year on management and leadership development, Bersin said. That accounts for roughly 30 percent of all training funds.
“It encompasses everything from how to be a manager to how to run a company, all the way up the ladder,” Bersin said. “A lot of money and energy is going into building, revamping and improving those programs.”
Perhaps more importantly, the concept of performance management is evolving to becoming a much more dynamic process.
“What used to be called the performance appraisal process is no longer enough,” Bersin said. “[It] was essentially there to monitor people’s behavior to make sure they did what they were supposed to do.”
That kind of paper evaluation doesn’t cut it anymore, Bersin said. Not only do today’s young workers expect to be coached, developed and aligned with business goals, flat appraisals fall short of helping companies identify potential leaders.
“How do you define who the top 10 percent are?” Bersin explained. “You go through the performance appraisals and look at the guys who got 5’s? Well, maybe they got 5’s because they’re very introverted, highly technical people, and they’re not even capable of [managing others].”
As a result, the process of performance management will become more collaborative, ongoing and coaching-based in the future, Bersin said.
Trend No. 2: HR Software
Since mainstream computers were first introduced in the 1980s, companies have been trying to figure out how to make the most of them. Many have implemented automated payroll systems and computerized management systems to keep track of employees as they move throughout the organization.
“But over and above that, it’s been kind of haphazard,” Bersin said.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the introduction of the Internet, companies – and software vendors – focused on automating the recruiting and application process. Now, with the increased interest in performance management, vendors such as Halogen and SuccessFactors have tweaked their programs to integrate performance management into the mix.
“[HR professionals] are saying, ‘Maybe we should wipe out or throw away all this old software and buy a new platform that does all of this,'” Bersin said. “I think in 2008 there will be a significant amount of time and energy focused on the implementation of these systems, which we call talent management suites.”
Trend No. 3: Social Networking
Based largely on the popularity of such Web tools as Facebook, MySpace and instant messaging, “social networking” will be a buzz phrase for 2008.
“Corporations are slowly but surely trying to implement similar types of systems,” Bersin said.
Leveraging this kind of social interaction within an organization is critical for many reasons. Most companies today are not nearly as hierarchical as they used to be, and employees spend a lot more time communicating with peers and leaders throughout the organization, Bersin said.
Additionally, an internal social networking system could allow talent managers to find potential successors quickly and easily, especially since the content could be continuously updated by employees as they use it.
“It also plays into this idea of performance management,” Bersin said. “People are much more empowered now in companies to do their jobs their way, and these tools are a part of that whole new environment.”
There are challenges in this kind of facilitation, however.
“In the outside world, you create a profile, and you put whatever you want on there,” Bersin said. “But in a corporation, there are a lot of reasons for the information to be accurate. If you put information in the company directory that says, ‘I speak Spanish,’ somebody might call you up and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a great job for you.'”.
Encouraging employees to share details publicly also can lead to liability issues as well as conflicts with patrolling the content.
But ultimately, “all that technology has huge opportunities in HR and talent management,” Bersin said. “Social networking is absolutely going to hit corporate America.”
What It All Means
As a talent manager in 2008, how do you prepare for the upcoming opportunities and challenges? Bersin offered three simple pieces of advice.
First, be comfortable working on smaller teams as part of a larger, integrated HR group.
Second, try to keep up with the news.
“Given the tight labor market and the potential for a recession or a downturn, people are not going to be tolerant of HR processes that are not very, very business driven,” Bersin said. “So, it isn’t OK to just be an expert in performance management, you also need to understand critically what are the big business things going on in your company and in the outside world and how what you do affects them.”
Third, take some time to become familiar with the technology your employees are living with.
“Most HR people are not technical people at all – they’re ‘people’ people, and that’s good,” Bersin said. “But their employees are living with these tools now and using them every day. And they impact the way people work, the way people communicate, and they impact the way people make decisions.”
Try to stay abreast – or, even better, ahead – of it all so you can formulate a strategy to best leverage these tools in the new year.