Sunday, March 21, 2010

What GREAT companies, managers and HR departments know --- and do

As great companies and great managers know, human capital is likely their organization’s primary source of competitive advantage. Moreover, it is generally understood that in order to maximize that competitive advantage, employees have to be fully “CALLED” --- another one of my favorite acronyms invented during a bout of insomnia:

- Cost-optimized … invest more in employees when business-justified
- Aligned … employee goals/priorities/behaviors with company goals/priorities/culture
- Leveraged … with respect to competencies, skills, ideas and creativity
- Listened to … for the next great idea or product, knowledge of key customer issues, etc.
- Engaged … committed and motivated employees stay longer and perform better
- Deployment-optimized … right people with the right skills in the right jobs at right time

While a tad more controversial than the above, many great companies and great managers also know that more time, attention and resources should be devoted to the top 20 percent of your employees, i.e., your top performers. This is because you can usually increase company revenue by millions of dollars by improving retention rates on that top 20 percent. Intuitively, this means utilizing the right -- often personalized -- mix of total rewards, recognition and retention vehicles for those exceptional performers.

That gets back to the first “L” in the “CALLED” acronym, because you can only get that right mix by listening. A related point is that key employees who are retention risks should generally get the most immediate attention.

Important note ---- HR organizations that are able to develop and then validate a practical model for predicting or identifying Key Employee Retention Risks (or “KERR”) demonstrate to their internal clients that they can dial-up more ‘science’ in their ‘art and science’ professional HR repertoire.

Feel free to contact me if you wish to know more about one such model that I developed --

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ensuring your HCM solution gets you to the "plateau of productivity"

Astute observers of the HR Software industry, including thousands of customer organizations that have made material investments, are now experiencing some measure of déjà-vu … as Talent Management Suites are perhaps going through the same “technology hype cycle” (aptly named by Gartner) that characterized HR-ERP’s.

Following the “peak of inflated expectations” and “trough of disillusionment,” companies are still quite focused on learning the best ways to leverage these technology assets as they embark on the “slope of enlightenment” and ultimately the “plateau of productivity.”

In the spirit of reaching the “slope of enlightenment” (and beyond!) more quickly as it relates to Talent Management Suites, I have identified what I believe to be 5 critical considerations for customer organizations that want to avoid wallowing in the “trough of disillusionment” for any appreciable period of time. These 5 key considerations are:

1. Develop and establish a clear and business-sustaining Talent Management Strategy (short and longer-term) as it relates to all “people assets” -- before determining the best way to technology-enable that strategy. The enterprise Talent Management Strategy should ideally incorporate both the "what" and the "how" ... i.e., WHAT your organization needs to do to fully leverage its workforce for competitive advantage; and HOW it will do that -- including the optimal mix of HR service delivery models.

2. Recognize that Employee Engagement, while not viewed as a core HR business process like Recruiting or Performance Management, is as critical as any pillar within the Talent Management functional footprint. It is the horizontal 'results area' that permeates all HR business processes.

3. Do not blend “business processes” with “business problems” … in other words, segment business pains and business opportunities by those related to fixing/optimizing HR or workforce-related business processes, and those which require more non-linear or holistic thinking (e.g., why are we losing many of our best people to our competitors, or why does it take us so long to integrate a new business, or is there an opportunity to expand our services at this time).

4. Leverage a practical Business Intelligence (“BI”) toolset that provides insights into improving the people side of the business -- without muddying the waters further. BI tools and their outputs should be introduced incrementally as new terms and new ways to use workforce information are adopted -- and fully understood. Bottom line: If you forget that effective change management is critical here, you might as well forget the new BI toolset.

5. Look at HR/HCM solutions and potential investments from the employee perspective … e.g., the “what’s in it for the employee?” lens. If the conclusion is “I’m not sure” --- you are probably looking at another investment in an HCM solution platform or tool that manages information about employees, and manages core HR business processes, but likely does not materially improve employee engagement, retention or productivity – my new “ERP” acronym for the new decade.