STRATEGIC TALENT MANAGEMENT BLOG

Human Resources Vision, Strategy and Execution: We’re with you all the way.

In talent and business, you have to fight the fires that are burning right now. Talent decision-makers struggle with new issues every day as they navigate the demands of leadership, evolving technologies, and the competitive market for scarce talent.

The conditions of the present also put pressure on larger efforts that should be focused on the future. For example, initiatives to implement new HR technologies or processes tend to focus on the needs and conditions of the present, even when known events in the near future would demand re-work soon after go-live. This flawed approach could be called, “present-tense planning.”

Whether you’re implementing an applicant tracking system, managing changes in organizational structure or geography, or supporting a corporate initiative, getting stuck in the present can be risky. With a technology implementation, you may find yourself deploying a system that needs to be changed, expanded or updated immediately after go-live — an expensive prospect.

Recently, a meeting planner scheduled a big event with several speakers. The planner worked with a committee to arrive at an agenda and manage a list of planned exhibitors at the event. It was all business. Then, as often is the case, life interrupted.

One of the speakers was known for being strongly opinionated politically and willing to put up a spirited conversation. Between the booking and the actual event, the scheduled personality started broadcasting some opinions on social media that many found antagonistic. At the same time, a few attendees of the event took notice that one of the exhibitors was Trump Hotels.

In my previous post, I’d laid out the scenario many of us find ourselves in: wrestling with difficult initiatives or technology implementations, complicated projects with challenges that take on a life of their own. With full disclosure, I am a successful “third-party” consultant / project manager (PM) by profession, and I have years of previous practitioner experience.

In my consulting career, I’ve heard clients repeatedly look back and reflect on the value they achieved in bringing in an outside senior project / program manager early in their technology implementation projects. At the same time, many companies who haven’t been through the implementation process may still be considering the pros and cons of external PM support.  Why not just manage it internally?

Like most HR and business decision-makers, you’ve probably wrestled with difficult initiatives or technology implementations. These are complicated projects with challenges that take on a life of their own. At some point, you or someone on your team will start to wonder why people are being so difficult. You long for the project to be over so you can focus on your day job. Maybe you find yourself relying on hope as part of your strategy for success!

Have you ever heard your project manager (PM) say… “Gosh. Managing that project was much easier than I expected. It didn’t distract me from my regular job at all.”

As I’m sure everyone knows, President Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of nationals from seven countries into the U.S. for 90 days, along with other suspensions.  The action stirred loud voices on both sides of the issue. The opposition has been widespread and loud, but many polls show that more people support the action, even if they do so more quietly. Regardless of the pros and cons of the action, there is one point on which nearly everyone can agree: the way the order was rolled-out was problematic. In examining these problems, there are valuable lessons about change management.

In last week’s blog, we discussed three examples of poor Performance Management:

  1. Politics for a Bonus: An employee at a high-tech company chose to participate in the most visible project over the most impactful and critical project to improve her standing in a peer manager calibration-based performance management system.
  2. Meeting the Quotas: A salesperson who received a mediocre review for not meeting his cold call targets in spite of far exceeding his revenue targets “gamed the system” to make his cold call numbers look better rather than focusing on revenue.
  3. Going “Above and Beyond”: An energy company relocating two of its plants rewarded the team that was late and over-budget but worked long hours, not the team who worked reasonable hours and finished on-time and on-budget.

Possibly more than any other aspect of managing talent, performance management is deeply entwined with human nature. And, much like human nature, it’s full of pitfalls, and an oversimplified approach might impede, not incent an intended result. In other words, it’s easy to shoot yourself in the foot.

The good news is, if you have a say in talent strategy, you can protect your organization from bad performance management.  It’s about understanding the pitfalls, shifting your perspective and committing to the right strategy.

Consider the pitfalls.

 

“Why can’t we even get this data out of our systems?  I want to start measuring this, now! Why isn’t this information at my fingertips?”  If these questions or comments sound familiar, you’re not alone. Data, metrics and reporting create some of the most vexing challenges in talent management. People often don’t agree on what to measure or have the systems in place to measure it — or they simply don’t know what to do about the data they do track. How do you solve this? Do you need more technology? Do you need more data?

Simplicity.  It’s a tenet embraced in both business and life, but the practicalities of a complicated world can get in the way. In the realm of talent management strategy and technology, I have struggled with this conflict first hand when helping companies manage a complex function or project in the simplest way possible. Yet often the real goal of simplicity gets lost.

If you’re a talent decision maker, you probably have a love / hate relationship with your job. You might feel like you’ve been given the keys to a powerful but very temperamental car. The job is interesting and multi-faceted, but there’s also simply too much work, and something can go wrong at any moment. And so you triage your demands into usual categories: must do now, must do this week, and “get around to it” (which never seems to come). Nevertheless, the car keeps managing to roll forward — until it doesn’t. Why?