‘India’s Talent Khoj (Search)’: a program on the television channel ‘Colors’ can be viewed as a process of discovering latent potential of individuals & teams. This potential exists in different forms, called skills & competencies by the management experts. These skills could relate to singing, dancing, magic, acrobatics, instrumental music and a host of other forms in which people exhibit their potential. A common thread in all these forms is ‘innovation’ which the management gurus define as ‘doing things differently’. This touch of creativity distinguishes talented people from the masses.
Identifying talent amongst the masses in the ‘Talent Khoj’ program outlined above includes the following steps:
- Creating awareness in the environment about the talent search that provides an opportunity to people to exhibit their potential.
- Keeping the boundaries open as regards the ‘forms’ in which talent manifests itself.
- Talent display & performance measurement in steps & stages.
- Considering relative performance,with microscopic focus, as the means of short-listing people.
- Including feed-back from public as a part of the evaluation/ judgment process.
Talent search in Business Organizations:
How do the business organizations & Government departments manage talent? Is there any similarity in their approach vis-a-vis the ‘Talent Khoj’ initiative by the media discussed above? Let us try and map the two.
- Objectives: In both cases the objective is to pick up talented people who have special skills & competencies and nurture them for bigger roles. Therefore, providing opportunity for growth to the talented few is the broad overall management perspective.
- Picking up talent: Industry deploys ‘Recruitment’ as a process of scanning for talent. Mode of recruitment is based on the size & scope of the organization. But in all cases, screening is done to ascertain potential of candidates for specific job positions. Unlike the ‘talent Khoj’ which has no jobs to offer, and is thus open to all aspirants, recruitment by business organizations is from a restricted population which meets the job specifications. Performance in various types of tests, bench-marked by some minimum standards, is the criteria in both cases for short listing of potential.
- Performance Criteria: In ‘Talent Khoj’, evaluation of performance is done by judges who are experts in ‘performing arts’. Their varied experience provides them with in-built microscopic sensors. They have the right to interrupt & stop bad performance, even before the time is completed. They grade performance by giving scores. In business organizations too the performance of employees is based on the goals/ KRAs assigned to them. Bad performance is improved through periodic counseling. Their job skills & competencies are also graded. The three judges are the Appraiser (direct boss), Reviewer (next higher-level manager) & the Moderator (who normalizes performance across the unit). In ‘Talent Khoj’, the viewers (general public) also rate the performers, through voting rights. 360 degrees evaluation is the equivalent process used by business organizations to ascertain the acceptability of talent in their environment.
Talent Management Solution for Organizations:
All organizations today have a crunch of talent. And ‘Peter is robbing Paul’ to add to this crunch. This phenomenon of attrition cannot be stopped; it has to be managed. Talent management, therefore, implies creating an ever growing pool of competent people who can manage all facets of business & growth of an organization. The Talent management process involves the creation & management of ‘Talent Pipelines’. Induction of people into these pipe-lines is not merely based on ‘performance’, though that is a vital criteria. The balance of aspects are summed up in the acronym TALENT which has been evolved by the author based on his study of the approaches followed by different organizations, across the globe, who implemented ‘EmpXtrack’ as a talent management solution.
|T||Training & Development Profile|
|A||Ability to Perform|
|E||Essential skills & competencies|
|T||Track record of an employee|
Let us discuss each parameter in the above ACRONYM and capture the information needs of organizations who evaluated the profiles of their people to create Talent Pipelines.
Training & Development (T & D) Profile
Employees T & D profiles, maintained by different organizations, were based on the following inputs:
- During one’s career, an employee undergoes a series of formal training & development programs.
- There is an attempt by a few employees to add to their qualifications, technical or managerial, through own time studies.
- Some others take on e-learning programs to update their knowledge.
- Some are voracious readers or web scanners who are keen to learn the latest in the industry.
- Some enjoy training others & learn through interaction.
- Employees sharpen their skills & develop their competencies through on-the-job learning.
- Some organizations consider job rotations & transfers as the biggest contributor to an employee’s development because of associated challenges, both domestic & personal, especially if the transfers involve re-location.
T & D profiles of employees were created by organizations by capturing all types of data related to the above characteristics. Automated Training & Transfer management systems were deployed as a part of the Talent Management solution ‘EmpXtrack’.
Ability to Perform
Employee’s ability to perform was viewed by these organizations in the following manner:
- Sum total of the performance of an individual over the years, in the same or different jobs, as reported by same or different Managers (bosses) was taken as an indicator of an employee’s ‘Ability to Perform’. Algorithms were provided to us to compute this Ability.
- Evaluating ‘Goal based’ achievements was the process deployed by all organizations to evaluate performance.
- Continuous tracking of the targets achieved by the employees was a feature needed by all organizations to apply mid term corrections through counseling.
- Counseling records were maintained for each employee & were used for performance evaluation.
- Allocating weights to different goals & also selective tracking of only those goals which were aligned to organizational objectives was the approach followed by some organizations.
- Some organizations also allocated weights to competencies while computing the overall performance rating of an employee.
- Some organizations were keen to show to Managers their performance rating patterns (Bell Curves) so as to make them normalize the appraisal scores of their subordinates.
- Normalization of performance scores across the organization, which is a complex data- based process, was considered necessary by most organizations before deciding on performance linked incentives (including annual increments).
- Some organizations needed a graphic display of employees overall performance over last 3 to 5 years to examine performance trends for purposes such as succession planning & management of promotions/ up-gradations.
- Some organizations were keen to have a comparative picture of the performance of employees working at the same level in different departments.
Computing an employee’s ‘Ability to Perform’, therefore, needed tremendous amount of data, well conceived algorithms and features such as graphic display of information.
Developing leaders at various levels is viewed by organizations as a vital aspect of talent management. This requires evaluation of ‘Leadership Potential’ of the executives by clearly defining the leadership competencies. Some examples are as under:
- Indian armed forces define ‘Officer Like Qualities (OLQs)‘ as an index of leadership potential. At the entry level, for recruitment as officers, the candidates are screened for these OLQs by three independent processes (viz, Psychometric evaluation, Group & individual tasks, and Interviews by experts based on BEI technique). Since selection criteria constitutes a minimum cut off on the scale 0 to 9 for each OLQ, by each of the three processes, candidates considered suitable for recruitment are deemed to have the basic leadership potential. This potential is further chiseled & developed through leadership grooming programs such as Junior, Senior & Higher Command courses, which an officer undergoes at different stages of his/ her career. Demonstrated performance in OLQs is monitored annually through well structured performance appraisal instruments. Developing & evaluating Leadership potential is thus a continuous process which has an in-built mechanism to cater for the vital needs of succession planning in the armed forces.
- Amongst the Business houses, we observed that the Tata Group had a well structured approach to develop leaders. Their concept of ‘Tata Leadership Practices (TLPs)’, which defines 14 Leadership competencies and prescribes guidelines for their evaluation, is an approach which helps in grooming people for leadership positions across the group companies. The grooming is through ‘Management Development Programs (MDPs)’ structured to develop leadership competencies of employees at junior, middle & senior management positions. Screening of the leadership potential is by evaluation of TLPs through performance appraisal systems or through Assessment centers.
- Most of the organizations who utilized ‘EmpXtrack’ for developing leadership potential of their employees had the following attributes in common:
- Their leadership competencies were well defined in terms of expectations from employees at different levels. For example, ‘Customer Focus’ was defined differently for an Executive & the General Manager.
- The ‘Rating Scale’ for evaluating competencies carried a discreet definition for each step on the scale.
- Organizations were keen to have the above definitions interactively visible both to the employee & the manager to facilitate objective assessment.
- Programs to develop these competencies were either evolved internally or evaluated from those offered commercially & linked with the training needs identification process of the organization. Focus was on the relevance of training to the leadership competencies.
- For Senior Managers, obtaining 360 degrees feed back from the environment about their acceptability as Leaders was a standard practice. Some organizations utilized the 360 degrees process to manage promotions. A few others wanted a limited version of 360 degrees feed back to be an integral part of their annual appraisal process.
- Leadership potential was an important part of the succession planning process. Some organizations used algorithms to compute this potential based on data gathered over the years pertaining to leadership competencies & experience profiles.
- Competencies gap analysis was a standard practice to evolve employee ‘Development Plans’.
Essential Skills & Competencies
Identification of special skills & competencies needed for job positions at different levels across the functions (Operations/ Sales/ Marketing/ Materials/ Purchase/ HR & Administration and others) is, therefore, an important parameter to manage talent. Mature organizations manage their ‘skill inventories’ by identifying the training programs which help in the development of these skills. Also they ensure placements & promotions of people as per their skill-profiles so as to ensure the ‘right person for the right job’. Managing skill inventories is a data based process which requires a linkage of skills with Job Descriptions and with the training management information system of the organization. The real talent is grown by most organizations by focusing on their core skills & competencies. It was observed that the ‘skill – search’ at the blue collared employees level (usually called workers) was deemed as important as the ‘Leadership potential’ for white collared employees. A powerful on-line HRIS (preferably web based for multi-unit organizations having a wide geographical spread) was found by our EmpXtrack customization experts as a necessity to manage talent.
Capturing data pertaining to different types of achievements of employees as under helped in identifying talent. Organizations had evolved numerous methods to capture these inputs:
- Accreditation Scores of an employee on self learning programs.
- Personal achievements in sports & extra-curricular activities.
- Contributing articles in professional journals of national/ international repute.
- Organizing activities beyond job commitments.
- Voluntarily working for extended hours on process improvement initiatives.
- Exceptional contribution to improvements in safety, health & work environment.
- Sharing experiences on knowledge platforms.
- Leading teams to participate in community development programs.
- Working voluntarily as a ‘trainer’ in the organization.
- Reducing team size by creating multi-skilled professionals.
- Number of subordinates nurtured to excel & achieve laurels for the organization.
Besides the features & attributes discussed above, which collectively constitute the working norms to manage talent, the following aspects were used by organizations to evaluate the track record of an individual during service:
- Periodic improvements in professional qualifications through self study & distant education.
- Record of promotions/ up-gradations.
- Experience profile including record of transfers to different job positions.
- Compensation growth over the years.
- Rewards, recognitions & performance linked incentives.
- Attendance, leave & record of discipline (including compliance to the Code of Conduct).
- Complaints & grievances profile of the employee.
- Critical incidents diary indicating employee’s contribution in managing unforeseen situations.
Technology for Talent Management
Details discussed above highlight that ‘Talent Management’ is a multi-dimensional activity which requires technology solutions capable of integrating the following functions:
- Talent Acquisition: including sourcing, applicants tracking, evaluation/ assessment, recruitment and on-boarding system.
- Performance Management system: including Goals setting & tracking employee achievements, maintaining counseling records & critical incidents diary.
- Leadership profile management system: including skills & competencies data banks.
- Learning & capability development system: including Training management information system & e-learning platforms.
- Compensation management system: including performance linked remuneration & incentives.
- Transfer management system: including job rotations.
- Career management system: including promotions & succession planning.
- A powerful employee data base (HRIS) which can auto-capture relevant data from all the above systems and empower managers with adequate & structured on-line information to identify potential & develop their subordinates.