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December 18, 2017 Biz Books

Tips to improve your firm’s talent management

Jim Pawlak

Demystifying Talent Management — Unleash People's Potential to Deliver Superior Results” by Kimberly Janson (Maven House Press, $24.95).

Businesses routinely ask customers for feedback to learn more about their products and services in the marketplace. Yet, when it comes to what internal customers (i.e. employees) need, they rarely ask. Why not? Two reasons: 1. Management tends to be more concerned with the today and the short term, and 2. HR isn't well-connected to the firm's strategy and tactics. Add employees' fear of expressing their views on their career development and you end up with poorly managed talent, which results in less-than-optimal productivity.

Janson believes that conversations between all three affected parties organized around SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) goals produce better results. The initial “What do you need to do?” conversation requires significant preparation. Managers and HR need to take into account the expectations of the employee and those with whom the employee interacts.

On the employee front, managers need input about resources (including assistance) needed to do the job. By using common denominators in employee input, HR can develop training programs.

Relative to interaction, there's a performance assessment guide; it deals with the manager's self-evaluation and those of other stakeholders. It comes with the following advice: “For any answer lower than 9, what are you going to do about it?”

Why the high standard? It's about aligning expectations of many inputs to create SMART. The “need to do” conversation explains the “why” to obtain employee buy-in.

Once there's agreement, the other conversations — “What do you need to grow?” “How are you doing?” and “How did you do?” flow. Janson believes these conversations need to be ongoing so there are no surprises; she provides numerous assessments to keep managers on track.

The key word: Communication.

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