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Tag Archives: Talent

August 17, 2017

5 Things You Need to Know About Managing Talent Today


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.

May 15, 2017

Join Us at the 2017 India Perspectives


Stepping into the Future of Learning and Talent is the theme of our 2017 Perspectives conference this year.

What does that mean and why did we choose it?

Arguably, it could mean many things. But for us, as the leading provider of eLearning, we feel it is our duty to ensure our customers are prepared. Now while we can’t prepare you for absolutely everything, we can prepare you for the future workplace, the future worker, the future learner.

Let me assure you that the future looks different. Change is happening on every front: from consumer-led content and personalised technology, to gamification, virtual reality, and the arrival of Gen Z.

It is a future that will present people working in L&D and talent management with challenges, but challenges that can be easily met – if you’re prepared.

To ensure you are prepared, we’ve put together an agenda that encompasses all these areas and is filled with expert thought and insight into not only what to expect, but how to meet these expectations.

For starters, our Executive Chairman, Bill Donoghue, will give an overview of the changes we have made to our content, systems, and platforms over the past 12 months and how we plan to continue this growth in the future.

He will be followed by Apratim Purakayastha (AP), our CTO, who will discuss in greater detail our technology. Potoula Chresomales, SVP Product, will unveil Percipio, our new and exciting learning experience, while Bill Docherty, SVP Product, will talk everyone through the new SumTotal Future Roadmap.

Then, we will have a panel discussion moderated by Melissa Ries, VP & GM, APAC on Is Your Talent Future Ready and include Damodar Padhi, VP & Global Head – L&D, TCS, and Prithvi Shergill, ex-CHRO, HCL.

Lastly, from Skillsoft I’ll give you quick overview on all the fabulous new content we have completed and what else will soon be making its way to your systems.

Next, we’ll turn the day over to three of our customers – Tata Communications, Landmark Group, and Sun Pharma to show case their success stories.

Ester Martinez, Editor-in-Chief of People Matters will then host a lively and energetic debate on looking at the organizational learning with two lenses – HR and Business. This will be followed by the Keynote Address by Ashish Vidyarthi, National Award Winning Actor, Speaker, and Founder of AVID MINER.

To end, we will announce the winners of our 2017 India Innovation Awards.

We look forward to see you at 2017 India Perspectives on Thursday, May 18 at The Oberoi Mumbai.

Join us. Register here!

April 3, 2017

Competency Models and Employee Development – A Perfect Match!


As a manager, I was often asked by my direct reports for help – to tell what them what skills they needed to develop so they could be eligible for a promotion or what they need to do to become a top performer in their current role.

I usually encouraged them to work on those skills in which they were weak; but I realize now what would have been more valuable was if I had competency models – organized and structured paths that I could have used to help these employees both improve their performance and prepare for their next position.

For example, an employee who is currently a sales professional but wants to increase their performance and hopes to eventually become a sales manager, comes to you and asks for guidance. What advice would you give them?

Not sure?

That’s what competency models are for –  now all you have to do is  simply take a look at the competency models for each role – you’ll find that relationship building, product knowledge, strategic planning and decision making are among the competencies recommended for these positions.  Then think of the employee, who you know is really strong on product knowledge and relationship building,  and you offer coaching and feedback so they can develop their strategic planning and decision making skills.

They get the correct career guidance, and you, as the manager, can feel happy that you have provided the relevant L&D opportunities. A win-win.

But competency models aren’t just great for performance coaching, they help organizations unite core talent management functions: learning, performance, succession, and recruiting.  With a common language in place, competency models define what success looks like across all roles and functions.

As the desire for increased development and career mobility continues among employees, it makes good business sense to develop and implement competency models.

And here’s the good news for SumTotal customers – our latest enhancements to the SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite include new competency capabilities which provide a self-service way to explore competencies for current and future jobs targeted as part of employee career plans. Additionally, our core and job-specific competencies make it easier than ever to identify skill gaps and build personal learning plans which will prepare for the role they want in the future.

With so many benefits to creating and implementing competency models, what is stopping you?

March 28, 2017

Participate in our Exciting New Research with Fosway Group!

Got a spare 20?


I’m talking about minutes, because that’s all it takes to complete a Fosway and SumTotal survey, but the results will give us a wealth of data.

Data we will then use to paint the most current and accurate landscape of learning and talent management in organisations across EMEA.

Why is this information important to us?

Because we will use this invaluable material as we continue to design and create world class eLearning and HCM tools. Our thinking is, how can we know what you, the customer, wants unless you tell us? And here is your chance to do so. Your time to let us know what is working and what isn’t, what we need to change and how we can change.

And hey, if you haven’t got 20 – how about 5 or 10?

You don’t have to finish it in one sitting, you can return to the survey and resume where you left off – just don’t forget to save your data as you complete the form.

And I know how hectic your schedules are so why should you invest time answering our survey?

For loads of reasons, but primarily because this is a great opportunity to have your say, your voice heard, in a project run jointly by us and Fosway, Europe’s #1 learning analyst and who, for over 20 years, have provided unique insight into the world of corporate learning technology and innovation.

Be a part of the solution, the future.

When do you get the results?

The results will be officially announced by David Wilson, 16th May at our EMEA Perspectives event, but all those who participated in the survey will receive their own results report first.

To complete the survey

October 21, 2014

Winning the War for Talent in the Middle East

The war for talent is a challenge faced on both global and domestic levels. Whilst there are similarities on a global level (i.e. the disparity between the availability of talent and required skills) each geographic region or even country has to deal with additional issues, which can include differences in demographics, diversity, nationalisation, education, engagement and economic outlook.

The Middle East is a prime example of how the war for talent is different at a geographical level. According to the PwC 2014 Global CEO survey1, 72% of Middle East CEOs are focusing on creating a skilled workforce over the next 3 years. This is one of the highest percentages across the globe. However 70% of CEOs in the area have identified availability of key skills as a potential business threat to their organisation1.  At the same time, the youth unemployment rate in the Middle East is the highest in the world2. In fact, one in four Arab youth are unemployed with a median age of 241!Bright Colors - Business People

Organisations in the region must work towards meeting Nationalisation targets for the private sector. Within the 6 member countries of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) about 13 million foreigners make up about 70% of the workforce.

The age of the local workforce, the nationalisation targets and the globalisation of labour offer an interesting battle field in the war for Talent. To create a skilled workforce organisations need to get better at building and engaging their talent to ensure a consistent and capable pipeline of ready people to develop tomorrow’s workforce.

Here are 5 steps to developing top talent:

  1. Understand your organisation’s talent profile. Understanding your talent’s profile goes beyond capturing information in the talent acquisition process. Almost every organisation has a wealth of talent information hidden across multiple HR systems.  It’s important to get a comprehensive view of your people, from internal and external data sources, including social networking sites like LinkedIn.  
  2. Recognise your true talent needs.  Yesterday’s talent needs are not tomorrow’s talent needs. The talent profile needs to evolve continuously to take into account nationalisation, diversification, globalisation of various sectors, as well as the current and future business needs. In the complex labour market in the Middle East you may also need to recognise that there are desirable and realistic talent needs.
  3. Perform regular gap analyses. To develop tomorrow’s workforce and win the local war for talent you will need to regularly identify key competencies required for outstanding performance and success in each area, so you can create a list of learning activities that can help to develop each competency. Regularly examining the gaps between existing talent and true talent needs allows organisations to be agile in reacting to business, economic or regulatory conditions, resulting in increased engagement, internal succession and productivity.
  4. Integrate talent and learning to drive engagement. Organisations in the Middle East have a very diverse workforce and individuals are different, even if they work in the same organisation at the same job. But most organisations’ training and development programmes, when they exist at all, are still one-size-fits-all and are often detached from the talent management process. By putting learning at the core of talent management programmes, employees are provided with learning opportunities which will enable them to close skills gaps. Delivering training to the workforce, when and where they need it will ultimately help to drive employee engagement, enhance compliance, increase retention and improve productivity.
  5. Reward leaders who drive internal talent mobility
    In the Middle East personal networks are extremely important and this can influence employment or advantage in the workplace, which can undermine the whole talent management strategy. Most managers are rewarded on what their organisations accomplish, but to drive internal talent mobility they should be recognised for enabling their people to find new jobs in new departments to ensure that the best talent is always in the most important role.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Leave a comment below! And, if you’re looking to learn more about how to win the war for talent in the Middle East read – Developing Tomorrow’s Workforce: Winning the War for Talent in the Middle East.


1 PwC Middle East CEO Survey 2014: Fit for the Future
2 Arab Thought Foundation: Enabling Job Creation In the Arab World
3 YalesGlobal Online: An Empowered Middle East – Part 1 (10 January 2008)


October 8, 2014

#HRBuzz: Our Top Picks for September

Once again it is time to wrap up our favorite HR blogs from the month of September. So, take a break from your day, grab a pumpkin spice latte (like the one I am drinking right now) and check out our top picks that you may have missed.

Not everyone wants to be a manager, and that’s okay – Career Builder released the results of a new survey finding that the majority of workers do not aspire to take on leadership roles. Check out the survey recap and then read Josh Bersin’s post on why this could actually be good news.Four Coffees Computer

Is your candidate truly passionate about the job? – On the Fistful of Talent blog, Kris Dunn’s post, “4 Ways I Tell if Someone I’m Interviewing Has Passion About the Job,” covered the ways that you can tell if a candidate is truly passionate about the position and how to know the difference between passion and enthusiasm.

Customer experience as THE key differentiator – Our blogger, Meg Temple, discussed how learning can help to improve the customer experience in her post on the HCI blog, “Don’t You Want My Money?” Take a peek at the post and then check out the Superior Customer Experience Through Learning ebook to learn more!

Does “positive brainwashing” exist? – After reading Paul Hebert’s post on the Symbolist blog, the answer might be yes. Check out the post on “Brainwashing Employees For Engagement” and the six elements of influence you should use when communicating your company culture to employees.

Start the day right and own it - Over on Fast Company, a discussion was posted on “How To Do More In Your First Hour of Work Than Most People Do All Day.” The post touches on six tips for matching your most important tasks to your most productive time of the day.

Why understanding employee needs is a “must-have” Richard Barrett, discussed how one of the most important tasks in creating a high-performance culture is taking care of employee needs in his post on TLNT, “Understanding Employee Needs: Key to Creating a Highly Motivated Workforce.”

Changing the face of HR – Here on the SumTotal Systems blog, Tena Lyons examined three ways to stay on the forefront of the next HR transformation with her “Changing the Face of HR” post. And, if you want to hear more on the topic, be sure to visit us this week at HR Tech in Vegas! Swing by the SumTotal booth #1511 and the Skillsoft booth #2457 at the show.

We would love to hear about all of your favorite blogs and articles. Leave a comment below or send @SumTotalSystems or @emilymarcovich a tweet, then stop back at the end of the month to see if your pick made the cut!



October 7, 2014

Identifying At Risk Employees

Did you know that one in five employees plan on quitting their job? That is one startling statistic. If you’re not worried about employee turnover, you should be! Identifying at risk employees and addressing their concerns and needs should be a top priority among organizational leaders and human resources professionals. But often, we don’t know where to start.

Last week I sat down with the very funny and very savvy folks over at Fistful of Talent to get the scoop on The Great Fistful of Talent Employee Turnover Predictor! Kris Dunn, Laurie Ruettimann and Tim Sackett shared some great advice on how to predict at risk employees and how you can motivate them to stay.

Take 20 minutes out of your day to watch our latest #HRHangout: The Great Fistful of Talent Turnover Predictor and let us know what you think!

Side note, we’re going to be at #HRTechConf October 7-10th in Vegas! If you’re at the show, be sure to swing by the SumTotal Booth 1511. My colleagues and I will be there ready to talk about your HR challenges! And, be sure to stop by the Skillsoft booth 2457 at the show.

Added bonus! Steve Boese, Tim Sackett, Laurie Ruettimann and Kris Dunn will be speaking at SumTotal TotalConnection 2014 in Miami Beach, October 27-30. Register now and check out their Panel Discussion: The 5 Faces (or Heroes) you need to have in your HR Department.




September 29, 2014

Changing the Face of HR

It’s true, change is good.  Change has a profound impact on markets, organizations and individuals – but, there is a reason the saying isn’t ‘change is easy.’  As a human resources professional, you’re living (and coping with) the shifts taking place across the HR landscape. Talent is sparse and globally dispersed, workforce demographics and demands are changing, employee engagement is low and tomorrow’s leaders need to be identified and developed today. And, this is only a small sampling of the challenges keeping leaders awake at night! The ability to anticipate, cope with and overcome these challenges can have a profound impact on business performance, and as a result they are truly changing the face of HR.

Working in a company comprised of so many HR-focused experts, and partnering with and having discussions with HR professionals every day, I see and feel the shift too.  As technology and best practices evolve to meet challenges and trends, we continue to see three themes rising to the top when it comes to arming yourself to embrace the evolution and declare, “Change is good!”Changing-faces-of-HR

Here are three ways to get started:

With a compounding number of solutions and processes available to find, manage, develop and reward talent, it doesn’t seem achievable or realistic to encourage simplicity to the overwhelmed HR professional.  More often than not, we think complex matters require complex solutions. When you take a step back from the chaos, you see that simplicity can in fact be at the heart of the matter.  Simplicity doesn’t translate to a simplistic solution, rather the exact opposite.  As Josh Bersin highlighted in a recent Forbes article hailing simplicity as the next big thing in HR,” I’m not saying that our HR, talent, and leadership programs should be simplistic - in fact they have to be very profound and well designed.” In an evolving digital workplace, technologies will only be effective if they are well-adopted by those they are meant to serve.

How can an effective, sophisticated solution support simplicity?

  • Be sure it’s easy to use.  Whether it’s a technology or a workflow, make it easy for your audience to adopt.  If something is too cumbersome to incorporate into daily work, it won’t get used – and therefore, won’t product the results you are looking for.
  • Bring it all together.  I don’t know anybody that enjoys taking longer to do their job, or is happy when they duplicate effort.  When you integrate processes and technologies, you bring simplicity to the forefront of getting a job done.

I hear it and read it over and over, ”HR needs to work strategically.” What exactly does this mean? At the root of being a strategic partner to business stakeholders is the need for HR to prepare the organization to be agile enough to move with the demands of the business. As noted in the Accenture study, ‘HR Drives the Agile Organization,’ “To compete in a rapidly changing world, HR will fundamentally reshape itself so that the function becomes a critical driver of agility.”  The role HR plays in building agile capabilities across the organization is essential to achieving success in shifting markets and economies.

How can you begin to contribute to creating organizational agility?

  • Get a clear view of your workforce.  How can you align your workforce to meet changes in organizational priorities if you don’t have a comprehensive view of HR data?  Assess and prepare the workforce to put talent where it is most needed and fill gaps.
  • Create just-in-time learning opportunities.  If markets, products or customer demands change are you prepared to develop your people as they work? Prepare the workforce to adapt by ensuring they can quickly learn the skills they need and apply those skills where needed by the organization.

There are even more changes impacting HR – corporate offices are getting smaller, tablets and smartphones are everywhere, and the changing workforce wants more than an annual pay increase to stay put.  If you ignore any of these as a driving force in keeping employees engaged and productive, don’t be surprised by a slip in performance.  Give employees innovative, cutting-edge solutions that support these new ways of working and you’re likely to propel employee engagement and impact retention.

What kind of innovative solutions can really make a difference?

  • The new way to work.  Mobile, social and collaboration tools help employees stay connected and engaged regardless of geography.  It seems innovations in this space pop up almost daily, so find the ones that will truly bring value to the way your people work.
  • Keep them happy. Find new ways to reward, recognize and retain your top talent.  Whether it is through continuous feedback, leadership training or a clear development path – find what motivates people and leverage new solutions to give them what they need to succeed (and, stick around).

What do you think? How is your organization embracing change? Leave a comment below!

September 23, 2014

Finding your Perfect Match

A few weeks back at a SumTotal offsite I was having dinner with a few of my colleagues and we started joking about online dating and how much it reminds us of the interview process. When I come to think of it, recruiting can be much like internet dating. It is almost impossible to find the ideal candidate or partner without being proactive and widening your search net.

Recruiting and hiring comes down to chemistry.  As Tim Sackett says, “hired doesn’t equal the most skills, it equals the most connections made with those interviewing you.”love computer

So how do you find someone who is passionate about what you are passionate about?

Figuring out what you want: Online Profile = Job Description
The process starts very much in the same way. First you market yourself. You write your profile – listing off your personal attributes, skills and interests and what you seek from your potential partner.  This is also very important when looking for the ideal candidate. The recruiter needs to work closely with the hiring manager to understand the job spec and build the right framework a potential candidate would fit in, such as job experience, industry experience, education and soft-skills. You have to know what you want to get what you want.

Putting yourself out there: Posting
After the profile has been posted, the match making begins! People will contact you based on requirements and interests and vice versa. This is identical to posting and advertising a job vacancy and doing your own recruiting and networking for potential candidates using recruitment databases and online sources, such as LinkedIn (which is basically a professional version of eHarmony). This is where you really need to widen your net because the more potential candidates you find/who find you, the more chance you have of converting one of them to a “hire” (a.ka. relationship).

Opening the lines of communication: Emailing = Screening
So, you begin looking at the profiles of people who match your requirements or contacted you. Based on your impression, you initiate contact.  Once you start emailing with someone you like (the personal version of the screening stage in the recruitment process) you will have found people (candidates) who not only match your interests (the job-spec), but who are also interested in you (the role and company).

Getting to know each other: Dating = interviewing
So, now it starts getting exciting! Some of the people you’ve been emailing would like to meet up for a date! Hopefully the date will go smoothly. Either you enjoy each-other’s company and a next date is set or you both leave feeling disappointed. So, going back to the search for the ideal candidate, the first date is almost exactly like the first in-person interview.

It’s a numbers game
Don’t forget it’s a “numbers-game”, so whilst you email people and go on first dates (a.k.a interviews), you will need to maintain the top of the funnel and keep looking for your perfect match (dream candidate), because if you don’t do this concurrently it will take an awful long time to find “the one”. In the business situation the recruiter will be busy increasing the number of qualified resumes, whilst the hiring manager and other stake holders work through the interview process.

Making it official: New relationship = new hire
After lots of dates with different people, you meet someone you really like and they like you too! You’ve been on several dates, the chemistry is there and you commit to a relationship. In the business world, the candidate has had multiple interviews with different stakeholders, who all not only buy into their experience, but also into their personality and everyone feels that there is a match with the skills required for the role, as well as the candidate being a cultural fit. So the offer has gone out and has been accepted and the ideal candidate has been found. Both parties are very happy!

The most important part: Good chemistry = good cultural fit
Having that chemistry or a cultural fit is just as important as any experience or skills. Many a parting of ways in both relationships and business situations happens because there was no chemistry and people didn’t listen to their gut-instinct, but looked at things rationally (like hiring on experience or a skills tick-list). By hiring people who are passionate about what they do and believe in the company, you are more like to ultimately create a highly engaged workforce.

People who are more passionate and connected to their companies are far more likely to be committed to the business?

What do you think?



September 17, 2014

#HRHangout: Our Worst Jobs

We all remember (and often talk about) the worst jobs we’ve ever had. We’re all guilty of swapping stories about bad bosses and bizarre workplace experiences.

This week was no exception.

I sat down with the funny and insightful folks over at Fistful of Talent to discuss some of the worst jobs they have had both inside and outside of HR. Joking and complaining about our shared experiences is always fun, but learning from the past is what keeps us moving forward.

Kris Dunn, Kelly Dingee and R.J. Morris dive right into stories about their worst jobs and what they learned from them during this week’s HR Hangout. Watch the recording for some funny and cringe worthy stories (as well as some great advice!) from being in a bad job situation.

Have something else to add? Tweet your experiences and advice to @SumTotalSystems using the hashtag #HRHangout to join the conversation! And, check out the past #HRHangout videos and conversations on our HR Hangout Storify!

Also, don’t forget to join us for our next #HRHangout: HARDBALL – Lessons in HR Intimidation, on Wednesday, September 24 at 2:00 pm ET.