05th August 2020

When it Comes to Talent, Don’t Confuse Speed with Velocity

Do you remember much from your High School Physics? If you’re one of my contacts then, like me, you probably didn’t take it much further. One thing did stick with me though (thanks Mr Fletcher), Speed and Velocity are different things.

Speed is the distance travelled over time. I can walk at around 5 km/h (a clear measure) and cover several kilometres that way. But speed alone doesn’t measure where I’m headed. That’s where Velocity comes in. Velocity measures displacement. It’s direction aware, determining the position of one point in space relative to another. Put simply, did I walk at 5 km/h to get to the shop before it closed?

Where is this heading? I’m getting there. As I talk to clients and potential clients and ask about their talent priorities it’s not uncommon to hear performance imperatives like:

“We are investing in an ATS so that we can receive applications via a couple of clicks and reduce our recruitment cycle time”

“We are looking to reduce the time it takes to on-board new employees by three days”

“This year everyone will have their objectives ‘in the system’ three weeks earlier than last year”

All very worthy aspirations, who could argue? However, they are all couched in terms of just one dimension, speed, getting things done faster. Here’s the challenge:

Is a focus on speed for its own sake a worthy goal?

For instance, let’s use the examples from above to challenge our thinking:

  • What is the relationship between reducing cycle time in recruitment to hiring significantly better people or reducing the rate of turnover?
  • How does reducing the on-boarding time get people to perform better or stay longer?
  • What is the link between having objectives in the system and improved organisational performance?

What’s our Vector?

Successful organisations operate and measure performance in multiple dimensions. In other words, they have a direction of travel built into their measure, a vector, to stick with the physics theme. Without velocity speed is rarely a good goal on its own.

How many of your performance initiatives are just about doing things faster as opposed to better?

If you would like to have an open-ended discussion on how your talent metrics could be adjusted to reflect both speed and velocity, feel free to get in touch. We are always happy to help our clients and potential clients think through options and opportunities. We never charge for brainstorming. Through a free-flowing discussion of ideas we will find out whether or not there is a good fit between what you need and what we do well or not. If there is, we can keep talking so that we bring you good choices. If not, we will be the first to say so.

Justin Miles

Justin Miles

Manager Partner, Melbourne at Generator Talent
Justin is the Managing Partner of our Melbourne office, an outcome focused leader with a track record of driving business performance through proven talent and organisation development practices. Justin’s methods and skills have been shaped by working with performance oriented leaders in great companies including PepsiCo, The Campbell Soup Company, Diageo, Rip Curl, Fonterra and Wesfarmers, in Australia, the USA and Latin America.
Justin Miles

Categories: Developing Leaders

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