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Friday, August 9, 2013

An Open Data Model For Talent Management


Over the years I've been blessed with some brilliant managers. They had varying levels of technical skill but an outstanding ability to understand and harness human capital. And one of the things they always had in common was this:

They never held people back.

These managers understood the true inner logic of talent management, which is:

Find out what people do well and then let them do it.

Unfortunately some managers think they're supposed to "retain" people at all costs. But if there is a poor fit between employee and role, the organization only suffers from their demoralized and disengaged presence. Think about a married couple that can't stop fighting, and then put that into the workplace -- who does this model serve?

Instead of retaining the wrong people, help them find another position where their talents will be well-utilized.

Other managers have a traditional (old-fashioned) view of the employer-employee relationship that says, we hire people for life. But why? Again to use the marriage analogy, if two people make that commitment and it does not work out, isn't it better for them to walk away on good terms? Rather than be unhappy and toxic to others till the end of days?

The open data model says that we share information freely and take what we need for the purpose that suits us uniquely. The same model should go for talent management:

Open the door to the organization so that people with the right skills can help you get results. 

Open the door between departments so that people can join groups that appreciate them.

Open the door between projects so that people can jump in and help out at will.

How do we do this? Take a deep breath for some of them:

Internal talent registries - what skills do our people have that we didn't know about?

Aggregated, anonymous rating tools - what is it like to work in that department?

Aggregated, anonymous 360 degree feedback tools - what is it like to work with that person? 


Often managers feel that they do not have control over their workers' productivity, even though others think they do. They are caught between leadership and sometimes irrational dictates at the top, and the difficulties employees face in actually executing on tasks with effectiveness and engagement.

The open data model improves the manager's lot with its strict yet friendly logic. It's impersonal but fair, just the way that data is.

A manager's real job is to identify and harness talent, and for moving or removing employees who are not contributing sufficiently. 

The employee is responsible for contributing real value according to organizationally defined results.

The sophisticated organization establishes an infrastructure that makes it possible for manager and employees to take responsibility for these roles.

It does this by defining itself not as an end in itself, but rather as a talent management platform that abides by the rules of the brand (thinking of brand as the organizing principle of the business).

This requires that three things be in place, written down, and actually lived (see "Internal Branding: Three Documents You'll Need): 

1) Culture, or the basic belief system about what is important, meaningful, and why we're here
2) Consistency, or the strategic plan - a set of priorities that is consistently espoused and followed throughout the organization
3) Communication, or rules for expressing what the organization is about

Management is a critically important job in any workplace. It is the manager who works directly with an employee to ensure they are on the right track -- not only delivering value but also thriving. 

An open data model for talent management supports the manager. It facilitates the correctly aligned and engaged workforce. It makes the most of the organization's investment in people. And it cuts to the quick unnecessary costs associated with employing the wrong people, in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

* As always all opinions are my own.