4 steps to talent success

‘HR needs to see themselves as cross-functional designers, makers and doers’


Unleash opinion

The touchpoints and innovations driving the talent management sector are phenomenal. But with so much available how do you choose what’s right for your employees?

It’s got to respond to need – the organisation’s and the individual’s. Improving the employee experience; tapping into the insights needed to improve talent; using great tools for mentoring, coaching and training; as well as succession planning, rewards and promotions.

The whole realm of talent management is where companies can turn opportunity into interaction.

For example, before joining UNLEASH, our managing editor had training in-house, developed by a talent team who had worked at Channel 4 and Sky. His then-employers created a focused specialist leadership programme for a business function. Well designed, it mixed data and technology with real-world practice, developed a peer group, and delivered all the other great benefits that investing in people offers. Contrast his experience with the bigger picture for innovation.

UNLEASH has surveyed 700 organisations on successful and unsuccessful tech adoption. They told us a whole host of issues which, if fixed, are a major opportunity for any organisation.

Our research showed around 25 per cent of projects are only somewhat successful, or actually unsuccessful, with most respondents citing yearly cycles for tech project development. That is a lot of unimpressed HR people following quite a lot of effort from them and their organisations.

We wanted to understand what was different for highly successful projects, which accounted for around 16 per cent of all respondents. What were the key areas cited as being important when it came to delivering success? We learnt they are universal, and should resonate for anyone involved in talent management projects:

1. Focus on outcomes

It’s important to think about the change you’re trying to bring about, and to remain focused on that throughout the project. This includes managing risks and changes. Through scoping and managing projects fully, including resourcing and integration, you’ll have a better chance of success.

2. Build on a solid data foundation

This is especially important for talent management projects. The new systems and tools need rock-solid data, either through use or integration. And when it’s integrated it needs to be scrubbed clean and matched with the new system. Otherwise, you run the risk of making your new tool obsolete by losing the integrity of the data set.

3. Employee experience is the killer app

Adopted projects are more likely to focus on meeting the employee need. This is done through design thinking. It’s the difference between a Tesla and a Ford. Which one says you value your employee more? Which one do you imagine they want to be in all the time? And which one will give you the insights you need to make the most use of the lessons you learn from them? Then you’ll be able to apply them to future experiences.

4. Include a broad panel of partners

Designing a new system or approach requires a large number of people to be involved – both internal and external. It’s important to ensure that all employees’ voices are heard in the process. Also, to ensure you listen to your suppliers and allow your IT and HR teams to collaborate effectively.

The beauty of these four processes is they don’t just apply to technology implementation, but apply even for improving non-tech systems. Any design can be considered from the perspective of the user. Beautiful examples integrate more effectively into a person’s working life.

The HR team needs to see themselves as cross-functional designers, makers and doers, helping employees connect to the organisation and working with their colleagues across the business to do so.

We’ll be exploring these findings as part of UNLEASH Spring 2020 taking place on March 23 and 24 at ExCel, London.