Big Data and One Page Talent Management

Big Data and analytics have arrived to HR, and companies that embrace them dramatically outperform the 86% that still focus on reactive and operational reporting (Bersin by Deloitte). Achieving and sustaining competitive advantage requires graduating from HR metrics to strategic workforce analytics and planning. These trends are both exciting and overwhelming to many talent management and HR professionals. Then along comes a book called One Page Talent Management by Marc Effron and Miriam Ort, which says you can boil it all down to one page. Is that really feasible?

Keep it Simple

Simple is better

One of the basic ideas of the book is that companies have made the whole process a lot more complex than it really needs to be, and without considering whether or not all that complexity adds any value. What you end up with is a time-wasting, headache-inducing bureaucratic nightmare that doesn’t get the results you want. What you should do instead is try to figure out how few steps and how little data will get you to where you want to be. When it comes to goal-setting, that means no more than three or four goals. To know if you’re getting the simplicity aspect right, the two key questions are as follows: Is it embarrassingly easy? Are managers out of excuses?

Keep it Proven

The authors also highlight the importance of evidence-based practices. Are your talent management practices based on sound scientific research? Rather than jumping on the latest management fad bandwagon, many companies would do well to adopt practices backed by scientific evidence.

Keep it Transparent & Accountable

If you want to truly hold your managers accountable, you owe it to them and yourself to make the entire process as transparent as possible. In this sense, you want to focus on the increase in the overall performance score, not the absolute value, and how it relates to goal achievement. It also means the information generated is shared widely throughout the company by the managers themselves. The accountability also has to have some teeth to it, which means using the information in promotions, moves and development opportunities. To know if you’re getting the accountability aspect right, the two key questions are as follows: Why should they? What are you going to do if they don’t? To know if you’re getting the transparency aspect right, the two key questions are as follows: Can they describe the process? Do they know the outcomes?

Some of their specific recommendations for stripping out unproven or unnecessarily complex features:

  • No more than three or four goals per employee.
  • No competency ratings.
  • No “stretch” goals.
  • No goal ratings, goal weightings or calculated scores.
  • No self-evaluations.
  • No labels or numerical weightings.

Kind of makes you wonder what’s left, right? What’s left if refreshingly simple: Space for three or four goals, a few specific behaviors you want the person to focus on, the metric that will be used to measure each, and space to report on the results. That’s it because that’s all you really need for great talent management.

The authors do admit that they don’t really expect the key form or process for any particular talent management process to actually be reduced to one page. But that’s what you need to have in mind when approaching it in order to eliminate needless complexity that doesn’t add value. Of course, any talent management system or practice is useless if you don’t implement it and then sustain its usage. And we all know that the tyranny of tradition and resistance to change derails most change initiatives. But that’s another article for another time…

September 30, 2014   Updated :March 16, 2015   analytics, big data, performance   

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