SumTotal Blog

5 Things You Need to Know About Managing Talent Today

August 17, 2017



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Even if you have never seen Fight Club you will no doubt be familiar with these now infamous and iconic lines:

The first rule of fight club is you do not talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.

Sometimes, I think HR can be a bit like that. Okay, so we do not pulverise each other, but it can feel like you are working in a vacuum, isolated both from the rest of your organization, but also, and importantly, from other people in HR. There is a myth that HR is something that happens behind closed doors and is only spoken about when a problem arises. Perhaps someone in finance has watched Fight Club one too many times, and then all of a sudden it’s all about HR.

But in the normal run of things, the day to day business of managing talent, this is what intrigues me.

What are your HR peers focusing on? How are other HR departments handling the ever evolving world of the modern worker whose expectations and experiences with HR is rapidly being reshaped by technology at a rate that is both thrilling and equal parts exhausting and infuriating?

Which is why when we do get some insights into the world of HR, we tend to inhale the information as though it was a last meal.

The Fosway Group and SumTotal’s Transforming Talent in the Modern Workforce research and Mercer’s Talent Trends 2017 Global Study have both recently completed large comprehensive studies on the modern workforce and what the findings reveal is that, not surprisingly, HR is feeling the heat of the modern worker and their collected expectations.

#1 Performance management and appraisals show the most progress

88% of company’s made changes to their performance management processes in 2016, with more to follow. However, only 44% reported that their performance management process was ready for the modern work force, which means most do not feel ready.

#2 Learning & Development is not ready for the impact of technology

Again, only 42% believe they are ready to provide ‘very advanced’ learning. What does this mean for L&D professionals, and how can HR address this poor showing?

#3 Career development is not developed

Only 1 in 10 said their approach is very advanced, with 69% saying they have work to do to be ‘ready.’ I am slightly surprised by just how low this number is, and do have to wonder why it is so abysmal? Are we not listening to our talent, who repeatedly express a desire to have the opportunity to advance in their careers and see it as a deciding factor when choosing an employer?

#4 Not promoting from within

Harnessing talent internally is still one of the least advanced elements of the talent agenda. Again, I am disappointed that companies are not seeing the incredible opportunity that is at their disposal, particularly since we all know there is a massive skills shortage and soon we will see companies fighting over talent.

#5 Hiring is misfiring

Less than 1 in 4 believe their talent pool approach is ‘ready.’ Without sounding like I am on repeat, this too is a figure that is less than satisfactory. What are we not doing that we should be doing?

Are you surprised by the results? Or are you nodding your head in agreement?

What would you say are the roadblocks facing HR? Well, if your answer includes any of the following – company culture, lack of organizational urgency around talent management and time constraints- you’d be right. When asked, these were the items that popped up the most.

But I’m curious now to see and hear what HR is doing to combat these concerns and improve the numbers. I’m also encouraged by customers I have the privilege of speaking with who are taking steps to right some of these wrongs.

Perhaps now that such areas of concern have been highlighted, we might see a greater redirection of focus or efforts. But we still need greater buy-in from CEOs and others who can impact company culture and shift the emphasis to greater awareness around managing talent today.

If HR is to win and succeed in managing a workforce that is itself evolving and facing new challenges, we must have more open discourse. Otherwise, much like Fight Club’s protagonist, HR will become embroiled in a war with itself.

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