Driving better hiring, development and promotion decisions.

The recession is mostly behind us; and with the economy continuing to strengthen, many organizations will need to staff up while trying to retain their current workforce. Are you ready for this? Do you have the tools? Do you know the questions to ask?

Today talent leaders are under pressure to help business managers make smart talent decisions within a climate of flat or reduced HR budgets. But retaining key employees has an immediate and financial impact. Talent leaders can stem a probable tide of departures and lay a strategic foundation to acquire new talent by making an organizational commitment to create a workforce culture based on talent measurement.

Begin With the End in Mind – Measure Success

Strategic talent programs need to measure success and demonstrate value to the organization, proving their impact on business outcomes. Success measures must be considered and prepared for in the early stages of a program’s inception. What are the business goals? How will program impact be measured? What data is available, and is it linked to the talent program? Does the organization value those particular data points?

Most seasoned recruiting professionals know what it’s like to make tough decisions and manage staffing challenges through up and down cycles. They then, work with business leaders within their organization to set goals and rely on objective data to monitor and improve the overall function of their talent management programs – Scientific measures guide their strategy and inform their tactics.

We have to constantly find new ways to measure, report and, most importantly, take action based on our customers’ (hiring managers and applicants) feedback.

Create a Strategic Talent Plan

Every organization should develop an accurate staffing model, identifying key skills and competencies that exist in current employees as well as those that may be required to support future business objectives. This allows companies to make informed talent decisions and react more quickly to changing circumstances.

Many of the most successful companies create talent dashboards to highlight areas of organizational strength using key competencies needed for the job, as measured by both assessments and performance ratings. Talent leaders can use objective data to engage in strategic conversations with business leaders about the strengths and areas needed for development within their departments. These conversations can lead to improvement through:

  • Targeted employee development plans to increase strength in key competency areas.
  • Identification of critical skills and abilities that need to be brought in from outside the department or organization.
  • Insights into what skills might be required to support future business strategies

 Strengthen What You’ve Got – Develop

Snagging top talent is all well and good, but talent management encompasses far more than finding the new and shiny. Developing existing employees, particularly when budgets are tight, is increasingly important. Experts in the field of industrial-organizational psychology, who have studied how people behave at work and in their jobs, have found that top-performing companies are often people-centric — employees feel they are valued contributors, and they are given a chance to develop new skills.

Many leading companies also allow employees to identify their own competency development needs and link those to internal career paths and opportunities. By providing tools for employees to self-assess their skill levels and then choose from recommended training and development offerings — often self-paced and provided online — companies give employees access to, and responsibility for, self-development.

Find Round Pegs for Round Holes – Improve the Hiring Process

With high levels of unemployment, companies across the board have reported receiving higher numbers of applicants for every open position, but not necessarily better-qualified applicants. This has increased the need to incorporate tools within the hiring process that can be used to rapidly uncover applicants’ potential for success in an efficient and effective manner, processing candidates faster and generating more quality hires.

Combining online technology with assessments measuring critical competencies for particular jobs used early in the selection process has proven to be highly effective in the selection of candidates with the greatest potential for success. In fact, competency-based assessments combined with content designed to measure an applicant’s personality fit to the company’s culture can improve retention. If talent managers can identify candidates who show a preference for the work and the environment, and whose values align with those of the hiring organization, they are more likely to stay — and to perform.

Summary – Get Back to the Value

Talent management leaders can make more of an impact on the organization when they present the results of programs implemented in an effectively communicated manner — not unlike a marketing campaign. One way to show the value of talent measurement is through a value road map, or four levels of value with more quantifiable impact demonstrated as one advances through the levels.

Level 1: Gather anecdotal feedback about a program from those impacted: applicants, employees and hiring managers.

Level 2: Show improved efficiency or cost savings that are direct tangible benefits of implementing new processes, such as moving a talent process online, which equals ease of access and less time spent, thus saving money.

Level 3: Utilize structured surveys to solicit responses from hiring managers on the customer service level of the HR team, quality of hire or an employee’s level of improvement in a development program.

Level 4: Implement more complex impact studies examining business metrics via employee performance, such as linking test scores to sales performance: Were high scorers on the assessment likely to stay longer and have higher sales numbers?

Economies cycle up and down, but a key lesson from this recent downturn is the need to adapt rapidly by having a strong understanding of existing talent. Best-in-class organizations consistently measure their talent at multiple stages throughout the employee life cycle, especially to support selection, promotion and development decisions — whether economic times are good or bad. Companies that promote a culture based on talent measurement and focus not only on selecting the best, but also on the long-term development of their employees will be the long-term winners.

Related Resource: Best Hiring Practices – Top Questions Answered

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