Category Archives: Talent Management

HR Priorities and Business Value

data point tuesday_500

SHL has published their fascinating yearly report on global assessment trends.  SHL, acquired last year by CEB, is an assessment company, so reporting SHL Logoon assessment trends is right up their alley.  The survey data are interesting and the conclusions are worth noting by anyone in HR.

But their questions and conclusions go way beyond the use of assessment instruments for employment selection and employee development strategies and practices.

SHL Top 5 HR Priorities 2013The first part of the report reviews  organizations’ talent management focus and landscape.  For example , the authors compare the top five HR priorities in emerging economies to the top 5 HR priorities in established economies.

The lists are similar but not identical. You can see that four of the priorities show up on both lists, although prioritized differently; and that succession planning shows up in the top 5 on the established economies list, while training shows up in the top 5 on the emerging economies list.

Other findings relate to HR’s use of big data and the perception that there is room for improvement around the world in using objective data to make workforce decisions. In fact, less than 25% of the survey respondents reported that their organizations have a clear understanding of workforce potential.

The second part of the report focuses on the assessment of talent – both for hiring and for employee development.  Interesting findings in this section include the desire by nearly 75% of respondents to improve talent measurement and the practice of linking pre-hire and post-hire testing to specific business outcomes.

The third part of the report focuses on technology in testing, with a specific focus on mobile devices and social media. The key findings here include data showing that emerging economies want to use mobile technology assess candidates – both recruiters and candidates want this capability; and social media data is becoming less critical to hiring decisions. (See last week’s Data Point Tuesday.)

The report concludes with four recommendations for HR in 2013:

  • Big data presents HR with a unique opportunity to demonstrate business value

  • Only the right data will lead to the success of talent initiatives

  • HR should embrace innovation that improves how talent is recruited, but with caution

  • Mobile technology should be considered for competitive advantage, not to follow the crowd

The data in this report are presented in a way that is easily understood and useful.  At 30 pages, it’s worth the 45 minutes it will take to scan it and then hone in on the impactful sections.  I especially appreciated the selected references at the end, as well as the key findings lists from the same survey reports for 2009 – 2011. I’m always interested in the evolution of these kinds of lists.

But the bottom line for me is that here’s yet another source of global HR data shining a light on HR’s need to figure out how to demonstrate its business value. Whether you prefer this report to others you’ve discovered here at Data Point Tuesday — or you prefer other sources of HR data and analysis, the drum beat is the same:  aligning HR strategy (and tactics) to business outcomes is the only way to demonstrate business value. And the only way for HR professionals to be seen as business leaders.

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Filed under Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employment Screening, HR Data, SHL, Talent Assessment, Talent Management

From the Archives: Job security is the #1 talent attraction magnet. Wait. What?

This was originally published on April 17, 2012.  It’s worth repeating…

In doing some research for a speech I’m giving, I came across The Talent Management and Rewards Imperative for 2012 from Towers Watson and WorldatWork.  It’s chock full of interesting data based on the 2011/2012 Towers Watson North American Talent Management and Rewards Survey and an unpublished Towers Watson 2011 survey of over 10,000 full-time employees in North America on topics such as total rewards, communication and other work-related issues.  Because I’ve been looking at data about the state of the talent pipeline (see Data Points #3, #5, #6), I thought this would be interesting reading.  Little did I know!

A couple of the data points that stood out to me challenge the “conventional wisdom.”  See what you think:

  • Only 11% of organizations have trouble retaining employees generally
  • Fully 68% of organizations identify high potentials, but only 28% inform those employees who have been identified.
  • Organizations underestimate the effect work-related stress and work/life balance have on employee retention, and do not recognized the significance of job security in attracting top talent.

Wait.  What?

It’s the last point that brought me up short.  Look at the chart below.

There are important disconnects between what employees report will attract them into a new job and what employers believe will be important in attracting talent into their organizations.  And if you look at the differing views between employers and high potential performers you’ll be even more surprised.

In all of the writing on this topic that I have seen in the last 18 months, no one else reports the significant importance of job security as part of an organization’s EVP (employee value proposition).  And look how it ranks as #1 for all employees as well as high-potential employees.  #1.

Not meaningful work.  Not alignment with the organization’s mission.  Job security.  Am I the only one surprised by this finding?

Look at the disconnect between the top 5 factors for all employees and employers’ top 5 factors.  Outside of base pay it’s a total mismatch!

On the high-potential performers side, outside of base pay and career development opportunity it’s a total mismatch!

It looks like we’re totally out to lunch when it comes to knowing what’s motivating in terms of EVP and the talent pipeline.  Out. To. Lunch.

In a world that observes the incredible talent acquisition strategies and investments at organizations like Zappos, PepsiCo, Rackspace and AT&T, we’re encouraged to believe that creating cultures of happiness and engagement are what it takes to delight customers and retain employees – high potential or otherwise.  And I chose those organizations because I know the ground-breaking work each is doing in terms of building their talent communities and the engagement of their workforce.  They truly are ground breaking.

It turns out talent attraction may be a bit more mundane than “creating a little weirdness.”

It turns out that some of the basics like job security and base pay still hold huge sway in our workforce.  And I think this is good news.  It gives” regular” employers doing good work and being good to their employees a fighting chance to keep their employees and attract the talent they’ll need going forward.

Basic blocking and tackling.  Basic management competence.  Basic HR.  Can’t get away from them if you want your organization to succeed.

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Filed under AT&T, Business Success, Career Planning, China Gorman, Culture, Engagement, HR, Talent Management, Talent pipeline

Fighting for a Pessimistic Workforce

data point tuesday_500

OK.  So there’s an awful lot to be pessimistic about these days.  That goes for Baby Boomers, Millennials and Xers.  That goes for your workforce.

There’s the economy, the unemployment rate, cost of benefits, the fiscal cliff, taxes, the soaring price of college educations, the high school dropout rate…  There’s a lot. And Mercer has captured some critical information about how this pessimism – that isn’t going away – is coloring the views of the future held by many of your employees.

The questions we need to ask ourselves are:  how do I engage and motivate a workforce mired in pessimism, and, how do I (we) counteract a perceived environment of scarcity?

The recently published 12th annual 2012 Mercer Workplace Survey provides results that should give any HR professional more than a momentary woah! as we think about these questions. The survey has a cross-section of active 401(k) participants who were also enrolled in their employer’s health plan.  1,656 participants were interviewed online in June of this year.

The high points include:

  • US employees are still concerned about saving enough for retirement
  • Workers over 50 are more concerned than their younger counterparts about their job security and have much lower retirement expectations
  • Workers perceive that the value of their benefits has dropped

If you haven’t surveyed your workforce lately, this report’s results might just motivate you to start asking some questions.  Questions beyond, would you recommend our organization as a good place to work?

Other nuggets from the survey:

  • 36% of the respondents over 50 are still concerned about losing their jobs, its highest level since 2007 (25%)
  • a survey record 44% of all respondents have considered delaying their retirement – with 59% of those aged 50+ considering delaying their retirement, up four points from last year
  • 62% of those over 50 believe they will have to work at least part time when they do retire vs. 48% of younger workers

Mercer Putting Off Retirement

Data like this can be helpful in knowing what questions to ask yourselves and your workforce as you deal with the talent challenges that face most organizations.

  1. If Baby Boomers are putting off retirement indefinitely, how do we keep the Millennials who want those jobs engaged and continuing to develop their skills?
  2. If all workers – and Baby Boomers in particular – are concerned about job security how do collaboration and innovation fare in a culture of perceived scarcity?
  3. If Baby Boomers believe that they’ll have to work part time once they do retire, how can we harness that experience in a win-win solution?

Pessimism is insidious.  It worms its way into your workforce and destroys your employees’ visions (and expectations) of a bright future for your organization and for them.  While it’s true that many of the concerns that are driving employee pessimism are out of your control (the fiscal cliff, taxes, politics, healthcare costs, etc.), you need to find powerful, positive evidence in the organization that will counteract the pessimism attacking from the outside:  a strong, ethical culture; authentic and transparent leadership; a focus on employee and customer engagement; commitment to learning and development – all of these can convince a workforce that, although the outside world may not be as friendly as it could be or once was, the inside world of your organization is a place worthy of the investment of time, commitment and heart.

Of course, you have to believe that first.

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Filed under Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Engagement, GenX, HR Data, Mercer, Millennials, Retirement Planning, Talent Management

Wake Up and Smell the Quality of Hire!

All eyes are focused on talent acquisition these days because:

  • The talent pipeline is dwindling
  • Our education system doesn’t prepare young people for actual work
  • Baby Boomers are about to take a hike and never look back
  • Millennials’ tenure averages  18 months
  • Facebook is the new Monster (not)
  • LinkedIn is the new Career Builder (not)
  • Job seekers won’t fill out application forms any more
  • Passive candidates are where the action is
  • Unless you have an online talent community your organization won’t be able to compete successfully for talent
  • Students graduating from college only want to work for Google

These are just a few of the things we “know” about talent acquisition these days.  Some might even be true – or close to true.  But what most definitely is true is that the pressure for talent acquisition performance is building.

Analyst Madeline Laurano’s recent report Stratgic Talent Acquisition:  Are You Prepared to Hire the Best? from the Aberdeen Group is a great place to start if you’re starting to feel the pressure.  The data is current, the analysis is fascinating and the conclusions will get you started in the right direction with a clear picture of the end state.

I especially like the Aberdeen Group’s research model that identifies Best-in-Class Performance, Competitive Maturity Assessment and Required Actions.  It’s a great approach for any research as it provides the high points with guideposts for action and recognizable benchmarks to measure progress.

Because so much attention and discussion is currently focused on talent acquisition, I think the three key performance criteria that Laurano shows distinguish Best-in-Class performance will make any HR professional wake up and smell the coffee:

  • 91% of first year employees were retained
  • 86% of key positions were filled internally
  • 23% year-over-year improvement in hiring management satisfaction

Really.  86% of key positions filled internally?  On what planet?  That’s effective talent management right there.

As you read the report, it comes as no surprise, then, that the big new bottom line is this:  Quality of Hire – not time-to-fill or cost-per-hire – is the game changer.  Focus on that, and you’ll have a direct line to profitability.  And retention.  And performance.  And the ability to develop talent internally.

So, for the 97% (!) of organizations that have no long-term approach to talent acquisition, taking an hour to read this report could give you what you need to move your talent acquisition results to a new level of effectiveness and business impact.  So plug in the coffee maker.  It’s time to wake up and smell the Quality of Hire!

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Filed under Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Quality of Hire, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management

Your EVP May Not Be Enough

According to some new data from the folks at Kelly OCG, employees all over the world are planning their work lives in dramatically new ways.  In their white paper, The Autonomous and Empowered Workforce, data from the Kelly Global Workforce Index™ is presented using compelling visuals.

The graphic below is pretty interesting and sums up much of the data in the white paper.  The highlights are:

  • Less than a third of employees believe their career will benefit from remaining with their current employer
  • More than half favor a constant state of employment motion when considering career growth and skills development

The fine points of what today’s employees think about the future of their careers according to KellyOCG include:

  • 49% are always on the lookout for new opportunities
  • 70% think multiple employers are an asset
  • 53% favor changing employers to advance their career
  • 54% feel they are in a position of high demand
  • 69% think they’ll secure a similar or better position

From an employee engagement and retention perspective, it is interesting that employees in the Americas seem to be trailing behind employees in EMEA and APAC as it relates to the relevance of a career-for-life, with 49% of employees in the Americas agreeing that a career-for-life with one employer is relevant.  Only 29% of APAC and 21% of EMEA employees see that relevance. So hanging on to employees in APAC and EMEA is already harder than hanging on to employees in the Americas.

But for how long?

Compare that to the finding that 65% of employees in the Americas consider work experience with multiple employers to be an asset and we can imagine that the career-for-life relevance may be exiting stage left before the end of the second act.

Certainly as you read the Kelly Global Workforce Index™ you’ll find lots of interesting dots to connect that may impact the work you do in 2013 to strengthen your EVP (Employee Value Proposition).  But this data are clear that there is a shift coming more rapidly than many may think.  A shift to job changing as a proactive career management strategy as opposed to job changing as a reactive crisis coping response.

If true, this is big.  And impacts everything from talent acquisition strategies, to onboarding processes, to rewards/recognition programs, to learning and development offerings, to performance management systems and more.

If true, this is big. Really big.

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Filed under Career Management, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Employee Value Proposition, EVP, HR Data, Kelly Global workforce Index, Kelly OCG, Talent Management

Is HR Mad for Social?

What a week!

Monday and Tuesday in the U.K. at TruLondon; Wednesday in Dublin at the Kelly OCG Talent Strategy Summit; and Thursday and Friday in Amsterdam at the HR Tech Europe Conference. Hanging with HR Professionals from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. Focused on the challenge of increasing the productivity and efficiency of organizations by managing talent better. A global challenge, surely.

The talk at TruLondon was focused on making talent acquisition smarter, more social (because that’s how talent operates today), and more effective. (You can read my take on the conference here.)

The conversation in Dublin was more general, but the use of social technologies was a central thread.

And social was front and center throughout HR Tech Europe – whether it was in keynotes by thought leaders like Thomas Otter, Naomi Bloom, Peter Hinssen  or Josh Bersin, the iHR competition where 6 emerging tech based HR solutions companies vied for the coveted “best new HR tech company,” or as many as 10 (out of 52) breakout sessions that had “social” in their titles.

It made me wonder: is HR mad for social? Every conversation I had in London, Dublin and Amsterdam touched on social – either in discussing conference content or in casual, more personal conversations.  A sample of things overheard:

  • “What a stitch: I just got endorsed for my BBQ skills on LinkedIn.” (not me)
  • “The Twitter stream was rocking during Josh Bersin‘s presentation.”
  • Naomi Bloom said “building/sustaining/deploying social networks to achieve business outcomes, and the business networks of workforce members, are foundational.”
  • Thomas Otter said “mobile devices and social networks are changing the way we work.”
  • “The nexus of Big Data and HR and social will take us to a whole new level of strategic impact.”
  • “Talent Acquisition and Learning and Development are outliers in the world of HR when it comes to early adoption – especially in the social and mobile arenas.”

Frankly, I knew for sure that HR is mad for social at HR Tech Europe when a session leader, a senior HR leader from a French firm, used an image of a kitten with the following caption: “please adopt me.” (HR + kittens = done deal.)

I don’t think that focusing on social technologies to help support HR in making bigger impacts in talent management challenges is a bad thing. We just have to ensure that we are being data-based and  strategic and not just focusing on the next new shiny object. We must ensure that any new solution we introduce into our organizations does 3 things:

  • Strengthens the relationships between employees and their managers, employees and customers, and employees and senior leadership
  • Is based on, collects and produces actionable data
  • Links with the talent strategy – which is rooted in the business strategy

Unless the myriad of solutions coming to the HR/Talent marketplace with social features can do those three things, they may well be just shiny objects mewling like kittens to be adopted.

Unless the myriad of solutions coming to the HR/Talent marketplace with social features can do those three things, they’ll do nothing to increase HR’s ability to lead the necessary strategic  workforce and talent planning actions.

Unless the myriad of solutions coming to the HR/Talent marketplace with social features can do those three things, HR won’t be able to fund them, much less implement them.

The discussions in London, Dublin and Amsterdam were engaging – whether in casual conversation or from behind the podium – and will lead the way for increasing HR’s impact on business performance and growth. And that’s just where HR needs to play:  improving business performance through the greater productivity of talent.  If that isn’t the focus, then social becomes a distraction and a waste of time, energy and money.

Then we won’t be mad for social – we’ll be mad at social. And rightfully so.

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Filed under China Gorman, Conferences, Connecting Dots, HR, HR Conferences, HR Technology Conference, Kelly OCG, Social Technology, Talent Management, Technology, Tru Events

A Whole Lotta Business Going On!

Last year I wrote about the HR Technology Conference and titled my post “HR people doing business. Wait.  What?”  I attended this event for the first time last year and was struck by the business activity going on at the conference.  It wasn’t about swag; it wasn’t about recertification credits; it wasn’t about getting autographed books.  Some of it was attendees really having buying conversations with vendors; some of it was vendors doing business with other vendors; and some of it was organizations having hiring discussions with candidates who happened to be attendees, vendor employees, speakers, etc.  And all that was happening this year as well.  You just can’t escape the feeling that business is going on when you walk the halls and floor of this conference.

There was an added dimension to the floor this year.  And maybe it was there previously and I just wasn’t aware.  But there was lots of money at this conference looking for investment opportunities.  I talked with a number of VC and other investors who came to see what was new and to make relationships for investment purposes!

There’s a lot of money flowing into the HCM space these days – untold numbers of VC outfits; strategic buyers like IBM, Oracle, Salesforce; the public markets with IPO offerings like Workday.  With talent issues being top of mind for every business leader with a Chief in their title, it’s no wonder that money is seeking opportunity in this field.

And you could absolutely feel it at HR Tech which concluded in Chicago yesterday.  Investments were being poised to happen in start-ups as angel investments, start-up investments, series A, B and C investments as well as outright purchases.  The talent management issues of organizations all over the world are creating opportunities for innovative solutions that will help us get better talent more efficiently with a great likelihood of longevity.  That’s what we want as business leaders.  And money was there looking for opportunities to make that happen.

As Mark Hurd, President of Oracle, told the conference attendees, “I want the best people at the lowest cost that I can get them.”  Exactly.  As an organization leader who “gets” HCM’s value, Hurd is no longer in the minority of C-suite leaders.  And that means greater emphasis on productivity and efficiency and cost.  And that opens the door wide to innovation and investment.

The HR Technology Conference is the one conference to attend to find out how to make your HCM infrastructure more productive, more efficient, more cost effective and more future oriented.  It’s the one conference to attend to meet senior business leaders who are focused on winning through talent and systems to manage that talent.  It’s the one conference to attend to get a glimpse of what will be possible in the future to ensure organization success.  If it isn’t on your agenda for next year, it should be.

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Filed under C-suite, Conferences, HR Conferences, HR Executive Magazine, HR Technology Conference, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Talent Management, Workday

Getting leave management wrong has consequences — and they aren’t what you think!

Leave management is one of those tactical HR functions that we’re required by law to get right.  With more than 300 state, local and federal laws/regulations with which to comply, U.S. employers have to stay on top of an ever-changing morass of guidelines that impact their employees in very personal ways.  It’s not just about vacation or PTO.

Workforce Management has published trend survey data on this topic and even though the subject of tracking employee time off is pretty tedious, the issues surrounding it are business critical.  The 2011 trend survey, published in early 2012 and sponsored by WorkForce Software, is amazingly interesting. I know, surprising, right?

For example, unless you’re the one responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws/regulations, did you know that 40% of employers report an error rate of 3 or more unearned leave days per 100 employees per pay period? That’s pretty big from a payroll expense perspective.  And what do you do when you find out? Clawback the unearned time? And how do you do that? Take time out of next year’s leave pool? Ouch.

That’s why I found it really interesting that when the survey asked employers what the greatest negative impact of non-compliance was, Employee Morale was far and away the biggest impact. Regardless of the employer’s size.

Here’s why this makes sense to me:  I learned early in my leadership career that you have to get employees’ compensation right. You have to pay them the right amount; you have to pay them on time; and you have to manage their time off accurately. You can’t screw up any of these and not impact morale. And if you screw up any or all of these up more than once you’re sunk.

And so it really isn’t surprising that more than litigation fines/costs and brand equity/reputation, employee morale is HR’s biggest concern in ensuring compliance in managing time off. I don’t think this concern is driven by the old “touchy-feely” rap that HR used to get. This is cold, hard reasoning about the cost to the engagement and retention of employees if the organization can’t get the basic building blocks of paying people correctly right.

So reducing the error rate isn’t just about reducing payroll dollar mistakes, it’s about productivity and morale. There’s more interesting data in this report. You can download it here.

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Filed under China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Engagement, HR Data, Leave Management, PTO, Talent Management, Workforce Management, WorkForce Software

Data Analytics: Too Sophisticated for HR?

Mercer and WorldatWork have collaborated again on a survey and report about current total rewards/compensation trends in metrics and analytics.  The focus of the research was to understand what types of analytics are currently being conducted and what technologies are being used to conduct them.

It’s an interesting report – especially from the vantage point of what it says about the relationship between HR and data and HR and analytics.  The survey was fielded in February, 2012 to compensation leaders who are WorldatWork members (the dataset held 560 scrubbed responses , a final 10.9% response rate), so they all have more than a passing knowledge of the total rewards function.

The big takeaways of the survey data are that:

  • Rather than use sophisticated analytical approaches like projections, simulations and predictive modeling to support decision making, organizations are more likely to use ongoing reports and benchmarking from internal and external peer groups.
  • Survey respondents report lack of access to and confidence in data regarding education competencies/capabilities and training investments – critical to workforce analytics.
  • Compensation professionals may be falling behind their colleagues in other HR functional areas in their adoption of more sophisticated analytics methodologies.

The report discusses why adoption of more powerful analytics is low despite 67% of respondents indicating adequate skill levels to engage in higher level analytics and almost half (47%) having 1 -2 FTEs tasked with HR-related analytics.  More important, 75% of the respondents reported that C-suite executives in their organizations have asked for workforce projections, simulations or predictive modeling.

Mercer and WorldatWork point out that while respondents report that some data is not available or of poor quality, 75% of respondents say their organizations are working to improve the consistency of their data. Paradoxically, 52% are unclear where responsibility for data integrity lies.

I found it interesting that the researchers suggest that “unavailable” data may result from a lack of interest in the data rather than an ability to access it.  A compelling point.

From the responses outlined in the exhibit above, one could readily agree with the researchers that critical workforce information about education, competencies, prior work experience and investments in training aren’t top of mind for compensation professionals. It could easily be that compensation professionals believe these datasets and their analysis more naturally belong to other HR functions:  learning/development and talent management/acquisition.

The writers argue that rewards/compensation professionals have a preoccupation with the behavioral side of rewards and overlook the “asset side” – the impact of rewards on the ability of the organization to acquire appropriate talent.

The bottom line for the researchers is to encourage rewards/compensation professionals to begin to think more expansively – and use higher levels of analytics – on the role of rewards in driving human capital development and business success and focus a little less on salary competitiveness and pay-performance sensitivity as performance drivers.

A very interesting report and very useful data as you begin to plan your 2013 budget.  Stepping up your workforce analytics sophistication could be a game changer for your organization.

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Filed under C-suite, China Gorman, Employee Benefits, Engagement, HR Analytics, HR Data, HR Technology, Mercer, Rewards & Recognition, Talent Management, Total Rewards, WorldatWork

Is HR in a Bad Mood?

Results from The Fifth Annual Talent Management Study by Knowledge Infusion and Human Resource Executive® were published recently in HR Executive by Mike Brennan and some of the findings were surprising.

I didn’t find it surprising that 63% of the respondents report that they have trouble filling jobs and that they can’t find the right candidates. That’s been reported frequently.

It also doesn’t surprise me that more organizations than not will be increasing their investments in Learning/Development, Performance/Goal Management and Workforce Analytics/Planning services and technology. That’s obvious.

What really does surprise me is that 58% of HR executives believe that peer leaders in their organizations “do not buy into talent management.”

Lordy, I hope this isn’t the furniture conversation. And I’m willing to believe it isn’t because 83% of the respondents also believe that “many of our managers do not know how to manage people.” Additionally, 65% of the respondents believe that “many of our HR generalists/business partners are not equipped to consult with the organization on talent.”

Ouch. Either the HR respondents to this survey were all in a colossally bad mood, or they’re starting to look clear-eyed at their organizations and re-calibrate their challenges.

It’s clear that many organizations need to look at legacy systems and programs in the talent management arena (can you say annual performance review system?) and, according to this survey, they are. But focusing on leadership understanding and managerial effectiveness in talent management might be a strong first step.

It’s a great day for HR if the results of this survey mean a new focus on talent management effectiveness – at the top, in the middle, and most importantly, in HR.

But if it was just a systemic bad mood, we’re sunk. Because, in the words of one of my favorite movie characters in one of my favorite movies, “we have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them.”

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Filed under American President, China Gorman, HR, HR Credibility, HR Executive Magazine, HR Technology, Knowledge Infusion, Managerial Effectiveness, Talent Management