Thursday, 6 March 2008

Talent management is broken

Readers of my recent posts on HR's and the line's role in talent management, may be interested in a new DDI / Economist study, 'Growing Global Executive Talent: High Priority, Little Progress'.

The study finds that senior leaders are setting talent management as a high priority, but aren't dedicating enough effort or being hands-on enough to do it (and this time commitment seems to have fallen since DDI's previous report, 'The CEO's Role in Talent Management').

In fact, while 85% of CEOs said that talent management is as important as or more important than other business priorities, only 20% say they often spend time managing talent and just 10% review it with their boards. DDI:


"Leaders see the opportunity, they talk about it, they invest in it, but this is a job that requires their direct involvement, and most just aren't skilled or experienced at doing it themselves. It's astounding given the fact that they recognize the business impact of having the right people - yet they're outsourcing accountability for it."


More than half of the leaders surveyed said their organizations are only fair or poor at identifying talent and half said they are doing sub-par work in developing their leaders. 60% of executives are not satisfied that talent is growing fast enough to meet their most critical business needs.

The consequence of this disconnect is that more than half of senior leaders anticipate their companies' performance will soon suffer because they don't have the right people in the right jobs. Executives identified this need to get the right talent in place as the greatest obstacle to executing their business strategies.

DDI's findings aren't particularly new - they very much echo previous research conducted by other consultancies, for example Hay and McKinsey. But they do show that there's a growing need to get serious about the issue. DDI:

"Many leaders don't recognize that their involvement in talent management initiatives could turn the tide for the organization. It's a missed opportunity for those leadership teams."


As was highlighted at the recent CIPD conference, HR can't step in for leaders and directly manage their talent. But they can orchestrate their programmes around the relevant business conditions. And they can challenge their CEOs on the way they are managing, and help them reflect on the gap between what they say and what they do.

As Management Issues notes:

"Business leaders love to rant and rage at how poor HR is at identifying and grooming future talent. But according to a new study, the heart of the problem might be closer to home – staring them in the mirror, in fact."