7 Tall Tales of Talent Management

I was real lucky the other day when a friend of mine gave me a book that was published by Aon in association with the Kellogg School of Management called " Hot Topics Cool Ideas, Insights from the 2010 Client Symposium. 


One of the topics that really caught my eye was the title of this post" 7 Tall Tales of Talent Management" by Mary Kay Vona, Ed.D and Executive VP @ Aon Hewitt. So why this topic you may ask? Well, since we have begun to come out, and I mean slowly out, of this economic recession, employees are restless, not happy, and most of all not overly engaged in their businesses. Why, well all the HR huff and puff with training, incentives that don't mean much, inflated philosophies about people not leaving a company in a recessional period, and a blind eye to really watching the ball has caught many HR professionals off guard with real good talent their companies.


First and foremost she points out that many talent management programs operate from generally accepted assertions that are untested, outdated, or purely anecdotal.  So she outlines the 7 myths as follows:

  1. Shifting demographics will create a global talent void - panic you say "we don't have enough people". Reality is the younger generation will fill the void of the Boomers and retirees.Case in point the number of people working past normal retirement age has increased from 12.9% to 16.8% over the past decade.
  2. There are no good organically grown HR leaders - well think about that and I will not expound any further. Hogwash I say!!
  3. Performance evaluations are the only way to measure talent - "its not the tool stupid, its the talent", need I say more. Think about all the hoops you jump through each year doing evals, talent succession planning, and where does it go? I can tell you from experience that doing a month+ work of work never was acted upon in my 30 years of HR except for a 2 year period in 1999-2000 at a technology think tank and design division. 
  4. Reverse mentoring is a crazy idea - mentoring in general has proven to be the differentiators for many, including yours truly.
  5. Leaders cannot impact climates of innovation - it is more than a team of thinkers and futurists, it requires big action, that only comes from the top of the organization.
  6. Talent assessments have plateaued - well they work believe it or not and I am not contradicting what I said in #3.
  7. In the current economy, people are lucky to have jobs...talent is always available - I think she says it best hubris + hyperbole = an unhealthy approach. 
In summary, the evolution of business models, trends, combined with navigating the current recession and employees' changing attitudes towards work represent a complex equation for leaders at all levels. Don't take anything for granted and make sure you keep your prize talent. 

There are many to thank for this besides Vona. Peter Capelli, Alison Overholt, Dave Ulrich, Leonard/Bersin & Associates. 

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