Real Performance Management in Talent Management


Talent Management (TM) is more than effective attraction and retention of talent. It also considers the performance dimension too. However, I would argue that performance management (PM) in TM is not about the conventional notion of PM that many think about – the annual setting of goals and objectives and the antecedent quarterly and annual monitoring assessments that follow. This notion of PM is HR centric – how the individual is doing vis a vis some set of expectations.

I believe TM centric PM is about ROLE performance. This is at its core an economic and organization design flavoured notion. In operational terms, this can be described as follows:

Role performance is the expected business contribution that can be made by a role filled with a fully competent and engaged person.

The attributes of competence and engagement are present to strip away any “noise” about variance due to individual performance differences. A common notion of individual performance variance is to band them in to A (star performance levels), B (the competent and engaged level noted above), and C (the deficient level which should be “managed out” of the role position).

How is this conceptualization of TM/PM useful?

When an organization has or fears that it will have a TM issue (usually means that there is a supply/demand concern present) I ask the client to do the following:

  1. What is the role’s current performance with B level contributors?
  2. What is the role’s current performance when it is done by an A level contributor? (what’s the difference?)
  3. Is it practical to fill the role with only A level contributors? How much additional value would be created and can this value (i.e., working capital) be freed up to better compete in the talent supply market place?
  4. If 3 above has limits, then how can we increase the performance value while filling the role with B level contributors?
  5. What are the inherent limits on role performance, and can we adjust them to achieve overall increase in value? This is not a simplistic question area as we will likely touch on organizational values and other HR considerations. This not about finding faster hamsters.
  6. What do we need to do to achieve these benefits?

The mantra around role PM is when we improve it we increase the “immunity” or the organization to its real/potential TM uncertainty and risks by:

  • freeing up locked in working capital that can be used to better compete in the talent supply market place (the CFO’s dream – self funded improvement);
  • potentially reducing the need for at risk talent by needing less talent to achieve desired (at least current levels) role performance;
  • being able to rely on achieving desired role performance levels without A level performing contributors

The “spice” of this approach is we can push ourselves to think big. Can we improve role performance by a significant level (e.g., have 2 B level contributors produce as much as it took 4 A level contributors to historically produce)?

When I can help a client achieve these kinds of large scale enhancements, I know I have helped make a difference.


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About 123stilllearning456

As a management consultant I am passionately interested in talent management and risk/uncertainty issues. In the area of talent management I propose that we seek strategies that look beyond the staffing/employee centric frames of reference. I have been frustrated at the "closing down on possibilities" by these more conventional staffing/employee centric approaches. I have been impressed where people have found systematic solutions to their talent management issues by going beyond the conventional approaches. In the area of risk and uncertainty, I am interested in making this topic relevant to more normal decision making situations. My conceptual foundation is to use the micro-economist's fixed/variable cost theme. I also think it is important to look at these issues for people through their emotional and psychological lens. As a premise I think risk and uncertainty only exist where there is a person who cares about possible events and its consequences. Hence, risk and uncertainty are social based concepts (no sentience, no risk and uncertainty). A major influence on my thinking in this area is Nassim Taleb of "Black Swan" fame. This BLOG provides me with an opportunity to express my thoughts on topics that interest me. As this is an online diary, content is more important to me than polish. I apologize if this distracts from readers' enjoyment and learning. Still I find this a useful way to live up to my namesake, learn more from others and hopefully provoke creative thoughts and ideas in others.
This entry was posted in Risk & Uncertainty, Talent Manangement. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Real Performance Management in Talent Management

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