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    Entries in talent (46)

    Monday
    Jul182016

    Are you a buyer or seller of talent?

    In sports, and I will contend, in most other industries as well, teams and organizations are either 'buyers' of talent, i.e, the best candidates and people leave other organizations to come there to work,  or are 'sellers' of talent, i.e. they tend to lose their most talented people to other, better opportunities and organizations. 

    The problem for organizations however, is figuring out where they want to be on the spectrum of 'seller/buyer' of talent, vs. where the market (and the talent), perceive them to be on said spectrum. In other words, it can be pretty easy for team and organizational management to in accurately peg themselves as a buyer or acquirer of the best talent, when the talent no longer sees the organization as all that desirable.

    And in big time sports like Major League baseball, NBA basketball, and international soccer/football at the highest levels we see this tension between desire, perception, and reality plays out often, as teams vie for the services of the best and most talented players. 

    Case in point, the potential transfer of one of European soccer's top players, Paul Pogba from the Italian club Juventus to the English club Manchester United. Juventus' management sees themselves as an acquirer of talent clearly, as evidenced by this quote from team manager Massimilliano Allegri on the Pogba situation, (courtesy of Business Insider).

    "I am calm about the English rumours. Anyone who has the opportunity to leave Juventus has to consider things very carefully, because right now Juve are among the top four European clubs. 

    "This is not a selling club that just lets its players go. Pogba belongs to Juve and at the end of the day he too will want to win another Scudetto (Italian league championship) and hopefully the Champions League.

    "We have grown in terms of appeal and awareness of our own capabilities. So far our market this summer has been eight out of 10, bringing in players of international pedigree like Medhi Benatia, Dani Alves, and Miralem Pjanic."

    Tease that out a little bit and we can see clearly that Juventus see themselves as a talent acquirer - they think Pogba would be better off remaining with Juventus instead of leaving for Manchester United, and additionally, they are 8 out of 10 in acquiring top-level players against competing clubs.

    Meanwhile, Man United, long considered a buyer or acquirer of talent themselves, but who have dropped a bit lately due to some disappointing results, see the potential Pogba signing as one that cements and solidifies their reputation as a desirable location and organization for the very top tier of soccer talent to ply their trade. 

    Where Pogba ends up deciding where to play his soccer is a decision that will validate the ambitions and self-perception of one of these two organizations, and cast some doubts on the other. Both teams see themselves as 'the' destination for talent of Pogba's level. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Why does this matter to you and your organization?

    Because it serves as a reminder of two important points. One, it is important to understand that no matter how you perceive your organization's desirability as a place to work, your self-perception needs to align with market reality in order to better inform and shape your talent strategy.

    And two, at the end of the day, your organization's perception and position as a talent buyer or seller is a decision that the talent makes, not you. No amount of branding, or history, or posturing, or past glory will make up for the best talent deciding a competing organization over yours. 

    It's good to know where you stand in the pecking order, and it is better to know how and why the most talented people decide to put you there.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday
    Jul132016

    SLIDES: Digital Transformation and Talent - #Inforum2016

    I had the privilege to present yesterday at Inforum 2016, the annual customer conference for Infor, a leading provider of enterprise cloud technologies - including Human Capital Management.

    My topic was Digital Transformation and Disruption, and the impact that accelerating and profound technology innovation and change is having on talent and talent management. I also included and talked about the incredible Pokemon Go phenomenon, and what that suggest for HR and talent. My only regret from the talk is that I really didn't get in a solid 'Sport and HR' re-set, but I guess I can try and do better next time.

    Embedded below are the slides I presented at Inforum, and after the embed, (email and RSS subscribers may need to click through), I want to expand a little on the last slide - the recommendations that accompany the pic of Maxwell Smart.

    The tough challenge for HR and business leaders when faced with all this disruptive technology is just how to go about getting started, deciding on what types of technology in which to invest, and how to prioritize time, investment, and resources.
    On the Maxwell Smart slide, I offer three catergories of value that you can consider when evaluating new technology. Whatever technology you consider, it needs to meet a need in at least one of these three areas - two is better - but if you can find a project that manages to provide value in all three? Then you are basking in the glory forever more.
    1. Reduce or eliminate organizational barriers- these are the inefficient systems and processes that get in the way of your employees being able to do their best work. Things like convoluted approval processes, endless email chains with no one making a decision, or antiquated and disparate technology solutions that fail to integrate smoothly if at all. This is the proverbial 'low hanging fruit' that the smart HR leader looks to exploit for quick, easy, and visible wins.
    2. Improve and enhance customer service - HR is at the end of the day still largely a service organization providing support and consultation to the rest of the organization. How can you provide that service better, faster, with more inherent value tomorrow than you are doing today? Where can you leverage modern tools to allow employees to get access to tools, information, and people to enable them to focus on their roles and not on your rules? Technologies in this category don't just make HR better, they make the organization overall better as well.
    3. Create a differentiated and persoanlized experience - One of the themes that I touched on in the talk was the way many of these modern breakthrough technologies like Uber, Stitchfix, and even Pokemon Go succeed by creating individual and personalized experiences and do this at massive scale. Stichfix sends out thousands and thousands of 'fixes' - collections of clothes and accessories to its customers - and no two are ever the same. Most organizations send out a handful of offer letters in a month, and except for the salary, everything else about them is EXACTLY the same. The same can probably be said for benefits and perks packages, physical characteristics of the work environment, and the method and process for training, development, compensation, and evaluation. Is it easier to have uniformity in all of these processes? Sure it is. Does it make the most sense for you business? Maybe not. It would be easier for Stitchfix to send all its customers the same 5 garments each month, but would that make the customers feel special and valued? Would they keep coming back?  I doubt it.
    So those were my big three points that I wanted to leave the audience with today, and what I hope you think about when making the important organizational decisions around technology investment. Make sure you are hitting the best value category for you and if you can punch 2, or even 3 of the categories then you will probably be giving the keynote at Inforum next year!

    It was super exciting and fun to be a part of such a big event - many thanks to the team at Infor for having me! 

    Monday
    Jul112016

    Is it a great company culture or just a collection of great talent?

    Lots and lots of folks like to push 'culture' as the primary driver of organizational success. I have written and presented pretty extensively on why I think that's wrong. Check any of my 'Rock-Paper-Scissors' posts in case you are interested.

    One of the many reasons I get a little skeptical about this 'cult of culture' is that by its very nature culture is hard to define, to measure, and hard to draw any kind of a direct (or even a dotted) line from culture to actual results. I'm not saying it's impossible, but just really, really, tough.

    But another reason why culture gets too much emphasis is how easy it can be to confuse a great culture with what is really just a collection of great talent. This challenge was discussed, I think very effectively, on of all things an NBA podcast I was listening to recently, by ESPN writer Kevin Arnovitz on the July 6 episode of The Lowe Post Podcast.  Lowe and Arnovitz were discussing the recent decision by NBA star Kevin Durant to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors - a team famous for their 'culture'.

    Here's Arnovitz' observations on culture v. talent, then some comments from me after the quotes:

    On an NBA team is culture permanent? Or is it really just transient? Is it this fancy word people like us to describe what is really just a concentration of good talent, but it seems like culture? But actually what it is is just really good basketball players there? Which is why they (the Warriors) win, it's not because they have any special connection to the community of San Francisco like people like to talk about. 

    Steve here - I think these observations are spot on, especially in a business setting like an NBA team where individual talent and excellence plays such a critical role in organizational success. Said a little differently, it is almost impossible to achieve the highest level of team success in the NBA without at least one superstar player, and one or two other All-star caliber players. You simply can't win without that talent level no matter how fantastic your team's culture may be.

    And I know that I get a fair bit of heat from folks for trying to make these kinds of HR/talent points using sports analogies, as some folks think that an NBA team and its dynamics offer little to us to learn from, back here in the real world. But I continue to think that they are valid ones to make, especially as more and more organizations and work teams have to rely on ideas, innovation, creativity, and quite simply talent, in order to succeed in a hyper-fast, hyper-competitive world.

    Ask yourself some of the questions about your organization that Arnovitz hints at.

    What would really drive increased performance at your shop? More talented people? Or a somehow 'better' culture?

    Which one of those levers is easier for you to influence? To measure? To replicate?

    This isn't about me trying to convince you that culture = bad and talent = good.

    It's about making sure we keep both in mind, (along with Strategy, if we really want to get back to my Rock-Paper-Scissors take).

    When you put 4 of the best 10 or 12 best basketball players in the world on the same team you are going to win A LOT of games. If at the same time you have a great culture, you may win one two extra games.

    But the great culture without the great players? Good luck in the draft lottery next year.

    Have a great week!  

    Monday
    May022016

    Revisited: Talent vs. Culture in Hiring Philosophy

    Let me be very, vet clear about this: If you only have time for one podcast in your life that podcast should be the HR Happy Hour Show. We are closing in fast on 250 shows in the HR Happy Hour archive, and Trish McFarlane and I have lots more great stuff to come this year and beyond.

     But if you are like me (a little bit of a podcast nerd, admittedly), you like to mix up your podcast diet and sprinkle in some other choices. For me, one of the podcasts I almost always catch is the Bill Simmons podcast, which is probably 85% about sports, but mixes in enough other topics (pop culture, politics, tech and business), to make it a good listen even if you are not a massive sports fan.

    Recently, Simmons did a show with Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca, most well known for being an early investor and advisor to companies like Twitter and Uber. Prior to his pivot to investing in startups, Sacca was a relatively early employee of Google, (from about 2003 - 2007), helping the search giant build out its data center infrastructure. 

    In the podcast Sacca talks about life at Google and what makes Google so different as a company and a place to work. The most interesting part of the discussion starts at about the 13:30 mark, where Sacce talks about the hiring philosophy at Google, and why that was imporant. Have a listen, then some quick comments from me.

    In case you didn't catch the key comment, I will repeat it here.

    Sacca: 'One of the things they (Google) did that is kind of like an NBA team, is that they hired just for sheer capability, not necessarily for culture fit. And so they were just like 'If we get the smartest, most driven, ambitious people in the world all to work here and we will see what happens

    And so other teams were like 'Well, I don't know if this guy is going to work well with this other guy, you know a lot of raw talent but, if you look at Eric Schmidt and Larry and Sergey the owners and general managers, they said 'Let's just get the smartest people in the world here and then see what happens.'

    In the podcast Sacca goes on a little more about what the focus on talent and raw capability above this idea of 'fit' meant for Google, but I think you can get the idea from the excerpt above.

    Looking back through all the posts I have done on this topic over the years, I would say at least philosophically that I come down way towards the Google/Sacca point of view on this. I think raw talent, the ability to assemble enough of it at one time and in one place will have the most significant impact on organizational success, certainly when a company is smaller and growing.

    Focusing solely on talent and ability may result in hiring a few bad apples, and Sacca admits as much in the podcast, but in the end whether its the NBA or a tech company, the team with the best talent almost always wins.

    Have a great week, and make sure you check out the HR Happy Hour Show too!

    Wednesday
    Mar162016

    HRE Column: Rethinking Talent and Technology

    Here is my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech and that archives of which can be found here.

    As usual, the Inside HR Tech column is about, well, HR Tech, (sort of like I used to write about all the time on this blog), and it was inspired by a recent HR Happy Hour Show that we did with Cecile Alper-Leroux from Ultimate Software, and that focused (primarily) on three major trends and challenges that Ultimate Software is seeing their customers wrestling with in 2016. This was a great conversation on the HR Happy Hour Show, and I encourage you check it out.

    On the show, the big trends that Cecile talked about were the concept of the 'Employee Experience', the evolution and transformation of performance management, and finally, the need for HR technology and technology providers to make predictive and prescriptive analytics more meaningful and actionable.

    Since I thought the show was so interesting, and the product incredibly interesting, it was the topic of my latest column for HR Executive.

    Here is an excerpt from the HRE column, Rethinking Talent and Technology:

    I recently spent a few days at the Ultimate Software Connections customer conference in Las Vegas, an event that continues to grow in size along with the company itself. And while the Ultimate executives shared several interesting insights around specific product-development initiatives, their perspectives and points of view on the most important challenges facing their customers -- by extension, HR leaders -- were far more interesting. Since I like to have my own opinions validated -- who doesn't? -- I was pretty pleased to hear that many of the themes and ideas being presented sounded a lot like some of the ideas I was writing and speaking about earlier this year.

    Based on what I heard and saw, there seem to be three main themes that are emerging as top-of-mind for HR leaders this year: a change in the conversations around employee engagement, moving toward a concept of "employee experience"; the evolution and transformation of performance management; and a kind of "moment of truth" about the use and efficacy of predictive and prescriptive analytics in HR and talent management.

    I'd like to break down and expand on each of these themes, and suggest some ways HR technology can be leveraged in each area.

    From Employee Engagement to "Employee Experience"

    One of the enduring truisms about work and workplaces is that, no matter what organizations have tried to do to improve employee engagement, it has generally remained at consistently low levels since the concept was first discussed. Despite significant time and effort spent in the last decade-plus to raise these levels, most of the traditional efforts and interventions have not been effective. For this reason, many organizations are attempting to change and reframe the discussion from focusing on a measurement that is really an outcome and to thinking about how they can improve the overall experience that employees have in their interactions with the organization.

    From an HR-technology perspective, HR leaders can impact the employee experience by challenging their technology providers to create solutions that deliver positive experiences from a usability and capability perspective. HR-technology solutions should be designed around the people and should serve to make their jobs easier, help them to be more productive and, crucially, help them to discover and unlock their potential. Not until the person is the focus of the technologies can positive experiences with the technologies abound, leaders at Ultimate stressed.

     Read the rest at HR Executive online...

    Good stuff, right? Darn right it is. Ok, just humor me...  And be sure to check out the HR Happy Hour Show where Cecile Alper-Leroux from Ultimate Software talks technology, talent, and putting the 'human' back into HR.

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and take your dog out for a walk or re-seed your lawn if you do sign up for the monthly email.

    Have a great day and rest of the week!