16th August 2019

Don’t Waste Time on Talent Management

Before you have any type of talent discussion, you need to first have a standards discussion.

Too often we see time wasted in talent meetings, performance discussions, recruitment profiling and other talent exercises simply because there is no agreement on what ‘good’, let alone ‘great’ talent looks like.

From our experience, effective people performance processes start with a commonly held view of what the standard is. The best talent review sessions and the best recruitment briefs start by agreeing who is in the pool for discussion, and who is out. That comes down to the standard the organisation has put in place.

One indicator that you don’t have a clear standard is that when you need to recruit a role you simply post and ad or brief an agency and you hire ‘the best applicant’. That is a talent standard anchored in luck.

So, is there a commonly held view of what ‘good’ looks like in your organisation?

The challenge of establishing a standard

We use the word standard deliberately. We’re not talking ‘high potential’ or ‘key talent’ or any of the other pejorative descriptors the HR industry likes to use. We are talking about the ‘price of entry’ and ‘cost to stay’. Standards that make all your people performance processes effective and efficient.

Application of your standards

There are a number of ways your standard can be applied across your organisation. For example:

Testing your standard against your competition for talent:

Are your talent standards higher than your competition? the same? or lower? If the answer is ‘higher’, well done. Now you will need to ensure you retain most of your best and systemise the processes you have around recruitment and development. If the answer is ‘the same’ or ‘lower’ you need to decide whether you can raise the standard through development activity, Or, if you need to go to the market to bring talent in to raise the standard. Just a tip, ‘I don’t know’ is never a good answer to this type of question.

Choosing who comes in your front door:

There will always be the exception that proves the rule. But, for the sake of efficiency you really need to ‘fish where the fish are’. So, by being crystal clear with every stakeholder in the talent acquisition process that you will only hire talent that meets your standard, you will save a lot of time. Both for the organisation and potential frustration for candidates. We hear about far too many instances of candidates going back for four or more interviews. Purely due to the fact that people in the process have differing points of view.

Performance evaluation:

An individual’s performance must correlate to the standard, otherwise you’ve got something wrong in your analysis. When we talk about how someone gets the job done, we are talking about the core deliverables of their role, the numbers if you like, AND the core competencies and behaviours they are expected to leverage to get work done. We’ve seen Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix refer to this as the ‘no brilliant jerks’ standard.

Deciding on development paths and having career discussions:

Having a clear standard makes it easier to talk to aspiring executives about developing the skills and career characteristics of what it takes to get ahead. So, if your standard to make it to a Divisional GM in your organisation is say, that you’ve worked in at least two functions, held a revenue raising or operational role and managed a big team of people, then everyone is clear. And to quote Brené Brown, ‘clear is kind, unclear is unkind.’

What next for your organisation?

Do this in the next week. Ask five people whose opinions you respect the following question:

“What are five traits of a great executive in our organisation, without which we could not perform?”

If you get pretty much the same response from all five, then you will have identified a base standard your organisation is working to. You are in the fortunate situation of being able to spend some time discussing, debating and refining that standard to meet your goals today and in the future.

If you don’t get a consistent response, then you have a great opportunity to begin the organisational dialogue on what your standards could be.

As always, if you want an ‘orange board session’ to dig further into standards, or any aspect of people performance, just get in touch.

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: Aligning Talent

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