Creating Effective Talent Management Programs

Like it or not, the successes and failures of talent management are still placed squarely on HR’s shoulders. As the economy continues its steady improvement and housing prices return to the pre-recession levels, key leadership performers will again become mobile and start leaving their current employers. So any weakness in a company’s talent management program will soon become exacerbated in the new economy.


One fatal flaw in many HR talent management strategies is the failure to link them to the business strategies and requirements. Once the HR team successfully links their strategies for the talent management process to the business and begins to communicate using vision, strategy and leadership, the company’s leaders will better understand how HR actually adds value to the business (see above graphic for how to do this). When HR doesn’t tie their expense and investment capital to the business, they will continue to suffer from an “expense and cost center” perception and always be resource constrained.

In working with many senior HR leaders over the years to improve HR effectiveness, this type of strategic approach (linking HR talent management goals with business goals) along with better communications has made a step-change improvement in the perception of the HR leader and their functions. Consider using something like the above approach with your key business leaders and you’ll begin to experience the positive impact on your HR department.

Succession Planning Best Practices



Is it better for organizations to keep succession planning secret or is there a case for more transparency? For many years, companies have kept succession planning a secret for various reasons including not wanting to tell high performers and key contributors they don’t have potential to advance the careers as fast as they expect. After all, there are more high performers than high potentials who are critical to the success of the enterprise but who may not have the right skills to advance to higher levels within a company. Also, it is demotivating to tell someone they don’t have the future they dream about.

On the other hand, about 50% of companies tell their high potentials they are being groomed for better roles including The Cheesecake Factory, ADP and others. This has many advantages including getting buy-in from top talent, higher retention, and validation for the employee. Generations X and Y high potentials especially appreciate more open communication about their future.

An interesting article that outlines best practices for succession planning transparency was recently published in Talent Management. It highlights what some companies do and benefits of a transparent succession planning process.

What is your opinion? Is it better to keep succession planning private or is transparency the best choice?

Improve Employee Engagement Levels


Many CHROs are faced with a dilemma on how to improve their organization’s productivity and business results. The HR science has demonstrated over the past 15 years that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their competitors by significant margins. But what happens when the senior leadership team is not supportive of what is required to achieve high employee engagement levels and may not have the requisite skills to pull it off?

A 2013 research study by Stanford University’s Center for Leadership Development and Research, Rock Center for Corporate Governance, and Miles Consulting surveyed U.S. Board members and CEOs regarding performance appraisals. The results offer some instructive facts that will help CHROs.

As a top-line study summary, CEOs are appraised on accounting, stock price or operating performance and strategy development. In CEO performance appraisals, little weight is placed on innovation, succession planning, internal talent development, employee satisfaction and turnover, and safety. In addition, they found that CEOs had very strong decision-making and planning abilities but they were weak in mentoring, internal talent development, listening skills, and conflict management skills.

That’s the dilemma faced by many CHROs who are saddled with colleagues who are focused on short-term results. And it’s no wonder when the system is geared to incent and retain CEOs and senior leaders for financial performance.

If you find yourself in a similar situation there are some steps you can take to rectify the situation. Start by educating the CEO and senior team with their peers from companies that have supported high levels of employee engagement. Discuss with the senior leadership team common goals and direction of the company. Then, identify opportunities for improving employee engagement. Once these steps have been identified, then a comprehensive employee engagement survey can be developed and conducted to learn additional areas, from the employees’ perspectives, for increasing employee engagement.

Does your company conduct annual employee engagement surveys? Why or why not? And if so, does the company implement an action plan based on the feedback? Let us know what works for your organization.

HR Best Practices: Gain Support For Your Agenda – Align With The Business

As HR leaders we still have to show the “why” of our work and how we impact the business results. We must be willing to take risks with our recommendations and stand behind our work as valuable to the business. There are numerous research studies on the impact of higher levels of employee engagement, quality of products, level of leadership effectiveness, goal-setting, and coaching that can be used to help bolster your recommendations.

Another best practice to follow is showing how what we do as HR leaders relates to the success of the business is to align your programs to the business. Below is an example of how a client’s performance evaluation process supports the strategic initiatives of the business:

cps hr best practices 01 resized 600

By communicating everything we do in HR as how it impacts the business results, you will increase the likelihood of support. This, coupled with your willingness to take some risk in what you believe to be true, will help ensure that you get your “fair share” of investments in your programs. In short, leadership and business acumen help distinguish the great HR leaders from the mediocre performers.