Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Managing talent who aren’t managers / UPS

Another talent management references I was asked to provide a link to was UPS’ definition of their van drivers as ‘talent’. This provides an interesting contrast from most organisations' automatic view of their senior leaders or high potentials as talent.

I’ve seen this credited to Deloitte, and the case study was included in their report, It's 2008: Do you Know where your Talent is? but I think the original reference came in Peter Cappelli’s The New Deal at Work and was certainly included in his Harvard Business Review article, A Market Driven Approach to Retaining Talent).

In brief, UPS identified their drivers as talent because these were the people with the main customer contact and were therefore able to resolve problems and take orders etc.

The company suffered appalling turnover of its drivers which was a problem because as well as being hard to replace, the important customer relationships were disrupted.

When it tried to understand why, UPS found out that the drivers loved their jobs driving, but hated the loading and unloading at either end of their shifts.

They introduced a new role of loader, and freed their drivers from this responsibility. The result was that turnover of their drivers was dramatically reduced. Turnover of the loaders was sky-but, but this turnover didn’t matter so much, and these individuals could easily be replaced.

It's a great case study of non-management talent, and of innovative job design: building jobs around talent, not just business needs.