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    Entries in talent (24)


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 178 - Making Talent Data Actionable

    HR Happy Hour 178 - 'Making Talent Data Actionable'

    Recorded Friday March 21, 2014

    On the latest HR Happy Hour Show, hosts Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane sat down with Mark Brandau, Vice President of Solution Marketing at SAP, responsible for Cloud Solutions including SuccessFactors to talk about talent management, Talent Reviews, and how some of the latest developments from SuccessFactors including the new 'Presentations' capability are helping to make workforce and talent data accessible and actionable.

    If you have been in HR or line management long enough you know how tedious, manual, and downright painful traditional Talent Review meetings can be. Lots of paper, lots of manually created PowerPoint decks, lots of people trying to make some of the most important talent management decisions for the organization but spending too much time on executing the process and not enough making the important, strategic decisions that the business demands. Modern technologies for Talent Reviews have come light years from where they were just a few years ago, and the modern HR organization can now have advanced capability to rate, review, align, and develop talent all in one place.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here or using the widget player below:

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese on BlogTalkRadio


    Additionally, you can subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or for Android device users, from a free app called Stitcher Radio. In both cases just search for 'HR Happy Hour' and add the show to your podcast subscription list. 

    This was a fun and informative show and I would like to thank Mark and the folks at SAP for being a part of the HR Happy Hour Show. 


    Three quick performance lessons from the Oracle of Omaha

    Legendary investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet dropped his annual shareholder letter last week, and as usual it is full of insights about investing and business and offers plenty for anyone interested in better performance - of investments, organizations, or individuals to think about and learn from.

    1. On taking the long view

    Buffett: "Games are won by players who focus on the playing field -- not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard. If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays."

    HR/Talent lesson: Like many investments, the true payoff on many talent decisions/initiatives are only realized in the fullness of time. New hires can take as long as a year to be fully productive, that big HRMS project could have an 18-month timeline, and that new recruiting blog or Facebook page you've set up is simply not going to catch in the first month. We want, or are trained to expect, a faster payoff or return on everything we do, but as Buffett reminds us, often patience will be rewarded. Probably the most difficult, and most valuable, ability for any manager is the ability to know just how long to keep pursuing a strategy and when to change course.

    2. On understanding your strengths and weaknesses

    Buffett: "You don't need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren't, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don't swing for the fences."

    HR/Talent lesson: This is the classic workplace  trap of wanting to do everything yourself, followed closely by trying to staff your team with people that also think they can do everything. I am utterly convinced people are more happy, engaged, and productive simply doing the things they are good at more often than they have to attempt the things where they are not so capable. Let people build on their strengths, don't focus obsessivley on trying to push them into areas where they are not ready, or not as talented. Some folks will want to stretch and challenge themselves no doubt, but not everyone is that comfortable or that driven, and that is ok too.

    3. On listening too intently to what others think

    Buffett: "Forming macro opinions or listening to the macro or market predictions of others is a waste of time. Indeed, it is dangerous because it may blur your vision of the facts that are truly important. (When I hear TV commentators glibly opine on what the market will do next, I am reminded of Mickey Mantle's scathing comment: "You don't know how easy this game is until you get into that broadcasting booth.")

    HR/Talent lesson: I am a pessimist or a cynic I suppose, but I remain convinced that about 75% of the people you know really don't care about your career success, 20% are actively conspiring against you to various degrees, and maybe 5% are truly in your corner. You should care about what these 5% have to say, listen to their advice, etc., and everyone else should be ignored. Completely. And if you are not sure if a particular person is really on your side or not, then you can just assume they are part of the 95% you should be ignoring and thus, ignore them as well.

    Once again, really solid advice and perspective from a guy who's credentials mostly speak for themselves. Think about the medium term and long term, know what you are good at (and like to do), and don't get caught up in what the crowd thinks - most of them hate you and want you to fail anyway.

    Have a great week!


    Super fast internet and talent strategies

    Did you catch the recent announcement on the official Google blog that named the initial short list of US cities that are potentially next in line for the construction and deployment of Google's super fast internet service called Google Fiber?

    If you are not familiar, Google Fiber is the search giant's ambitious project to wire up neighborhoods and cities with fiber-basd internet networks that deliver speeds 100 times faster than what most of us have at home today. Now Google is talking about expanding the Fiber program beyond the early projects in Kansas CityAustin and Provo, and has invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.—34 cities altogether—to collaborate and participate in an exercise to see what it would take to bring Google Fiber to those cities.

    Here is the map of Google's targeted locations, (courtesy of the Google blog):

    What can we take away, if anything, about HR, talent, or recruiting strategies from a project like Google Fiber, and more specifically, the locations where Google has or is considering investing time and resources on the Fiber project?

    I'd offer a few potential considerations:

    1. If you believe talented people will flock towards or be less likely to leave places that are 'Fibered up', then the location choices and deployment of gigabit speed internet networks should play into your talent strategy. You might be able to find talent, especially technical talent, in these locations more easily, and maybe even more cost-effectively than in other places.

    2. If you are located in an non-Fiber locale, and are not on anyone's short list for this kind of a project, then you may, eventually, have to make some accommodations on that front. If you are a Chicago company maybe you will one day need a small satellite office in a place like Kansas City, or similarly if you are looking to expand West maybe setting up shop in Portland over Seattle might be the right play.

    3.  If you are already in one of the nine large metros that are now under review for Fiber, and for some reason you are not selected, (lack of municipal cooperation, lack of infrastructure, not enough local support), and the Goog decides to pass you by, then you have to think about what that impact might be for you medium and long term. You might have to spend some time 'defending' your city, particularly with relocation candidates, as a progressive and hip place, not some backwater, (I am looking at you Birmingham), that did not make the cut for super fast internet.

    I am sure you can think of some other ideas about how, or even if, these kinds of quality of life projects impact organizations and their ability to attract and retain talent. I think too often in HR/Talent we focus so much about what is going on inside our own four walls that we forget that our prized talent, (for the most part), actually has to live and hopefully be happy living, within an hour's drive of the office.

    What do you think? Do you care about this or not from an HR/Talent perspective?

    But I bet if your city does get Google Fiber you would include that little tidbit in the 'About (insert your city here)' portion of all your job listings.

    Happy Thursday!


    HOT SPORTS TAKE: What is more important than culture?

    It's been a huge few days in the sports world - with the NFL playoffs over the past weekend, the NBA finally getting interesting, and the wind up of the College football bowl season and final BCS Championship game. there has been plenty of fodder for sports talk shows, articles and columns that feature that essential element of sports coverage these days known as the HOT SPORTS TAKE

    This is where some blowhard, (in the case of the blog you are currently reading, that blowhard is me), goes on some silly, shouty rant about a coach, or a player, or a team, or sometimes an official about how they variously choked and lost the big game, is actually a terrible, mean, no-good person, and by losing the game and/or being a mean person they have therefore insulted America or tradition or the scared honor of the lunkhead sports stars of a bygone era. The rise of the myriad number of online sports sites has certainly contributed to the genre, but by no means is this a recent phenomenon.

    Actually come to think of it, my take probably doesn't completely merit the HOT SPORTS TAKE definition, as I really am not in a snit about any specific player or coach or team, but rather wanted to use a sports analogy (again) to back up one of my workplace/talent management takes from the past. Namely, that in contrast to the tiresome (and incorrect) cult of 'Culture Eats Strategy' I contend, still, that talent trumps everything. Talent is more important than strategy. Talent is definitely more important than culture.

    What completely non-scientific and impossible to prove or disprove evidence am I going to cite?

    Just a random call to the 'I can't remember which show but they are all the same so it doesn't really matter sports talk show' following the recent NFL playoff games.

    (Transcript lightly edited due to my failing memory and to better make the point I am trying to make)

    Host: Next up Jim from Hoboken. Go head Jim.

    Caller: Hi Mel - I just want to say I hated the body language of the Chiefs/Eagles/Bengals (doesn't matter and I can't remember) at the end of the game. They just don't have a winning mentality. They just don't have any team chemistry. It's like they don't like each other.

    Host: Winning mentality? Chemistry? They fumbled three times and had 12 penalties. What's the 'winning mentality' have to do with that?

    Caller: But Mel, the play calling was terrible. They gave up on the run in the second half!

    Host: They had a receiver drop the ball in the end zone for what should have been an easy touchdown. That play would have put them ahead in the game with less than 4 minutes left!

    Caller: And all the penalties Mel. They couldn't seem to stay onside all game!

    Host: Their top three lineman were all out hurt and they had to play rookies and reserves.

    The reason they lost the game was simple. The other team is better. They have better players. They have more TALENT!

    You fans want to go on and on about whether the Quarterback likes the Running Back or the coach's play calling is shaky or there were bad calls by the officials but all that stuff doesn't matter.

    What matters, in this order, is Talent first, execution second, coaching and play calling third, and last by a mile is whether or not the guys like each other or chemistry (Note: this is the rough equivalent of 'culture' for the HR types). But make no mistake about it, the team with the most Talent wins these games 9 out of 10 times. 

    And don't forget that.


    I continue to believe Talent trumps all - whether it's on the football field or in the executive boardroom.

    Great players make great plays.

    Happy Wednesday. 

    (First official 8 Man Rotation post for 2014 logged)


    REPRISE: Jagger, Warhol, and another guy you've never heard of

    Note: The blog is taking some well-deserved rest for the next two weeks (that is code for I am pretty much out of decent ideas, and I doubt most folks are spending their holidays reading blogs anyway), and will be re-running some of best, or at least most interesting posts from 2013. Maybe you missed these the first time around or maybe you didn't really miss them, but either way they are presented for your consideration. Thanks to everyone who stopped by in 2013!

    The below post is about my favorite themes in 2013 - talent, and the threat of automation and robotics to workers and originally ran in January 2013.


    Jagger, Warhol, and another guy you've never heard of 

    Check the letter below, a fairly famous one at that, written in 1969 from the Rolling Stones Mick Jagger to the artist Andy Warhol regarding Warhol's impending collaboration with the band on the cover art for their soon to be released album:

    In three short paragraphs, and with 100 words give or take, Mick schools us all on the difference between the Talent - himself, the band, and of course Warhol; and the 'support' types like the unfortunate Mr. Al Steckler, who will look 'nervous' and can essentially be ignored.

    I post a lot on this blog, perhaps too much, about the challenge and threat that increased automation and robot technology pose to the workforce and workplaces of the future. But I don't think that the changes and potential disruption that more powerful automation technologies, smarter artificial intelligences, and the increasing acceptance of robots in all kinds of workplace environments can be ignored. The primary challenge for many of us, and certainly for the next generation of workers, will be to find ways to ensure we can continue to create value - unique, hard to copy, and certainly hard to automate value.

    This is not really a new requirement, although the pace of technological advances are making it more pressing. Back in 1969, Mick Jagger already it pegged. People like himself and Andy Warhol, well they were the creators. They were the important parts in the machine. And they'd enjoy the spoils - did you catch the line in the letter were Mick basically tells Warhol to name his price for creating the album cover art?

    In 1969, for a non-creative, non-essential type like Steckler the worst think likely to happen was he'd be ignored and maybe marginalized a little. In 2013, the risks of being someone branded as a non-creative, worrying, nervous, functionary I think are far worse.  We can get a robot to handle those jobs soon enough. 

    And the robots won't get nervous or bother the talent.

    Have a great week all!