Thursday 26 April 2012

#HRD12 – helping people become what they are (challenges and opportunities for talent managers / 5)


   In my last post, I wrote that I’d explain more about why it is that I don’t think “commercial savvy and speaking ‘business’ rather than ‘HR’ language” is the way forward for talent management.

And actually, it looks as if a powerful argument for retaining a focus on talent, and speaking a more people centred language, is going on at the CIPD’s HRD conference today (I’m in South Africa so am missing the event this year):

“At Michelin, knowing people, and helping them to reveal and develop all their potential, to “become what they are” at their own pace, is personnel’s primary function.

Vocabulary is important: 'personnel', not 'HR', because people are not a 'resource' to be stockpiled and tallied, waiting to be bought and sold. Each person is a unique and irreplaceable asset, with emotions, capable of making decisions and progressing when given the chance). Personnel’s remit is not only to staff current needs with the best people wherever they happen to be, but also to raise talent for future, often unknown challenges.”

-   Alan Duke, former international career manager, Michelin


And then on career development (also see my two recent posts on this - 1, 2):

“People are recruited by personnel, for a career, not a job, and personality comes before competence. An individual’s potential to develop is the cornerstone of all career management. Therefore, careers take precedence over short-term operational needs, and managers do not 'own' their people. They are responsible for managing performance, developing skills and creating conditions for success, including releasing people for the greater good, when required.

Managers cannot manage career development, because their relation with their employees is limited in time and space and they do not have access to opportunities outside their own sphere of influence. The vast majority of managers willingly accept these limitations, because they know their own career progression follows the same rules.

Career managers are independent from line management. They are responsible for rating employee potential, a process which starts at recruitment and is updated annually, for drawing up succession plans and individual career paths, and for brokering every move and making the formal offer to the employee. They have access to all opportunities in the group and actively push employees to broaden out by changing departments, businesses organisations and geographical locations. They select participants for fast-track development programmes.

Naturally, the final responsibility for career development rests with each individual employee: good performance, updating skills, being open and honest with the company etc. But every employee has a clearly identified career manager and is known personally. So there is no need to join the rat race, look around or generally spend too much time worrying about your future. You can get on with being passionate about your work and producing the goods. Your career manager will take care of the rest. Against a backdrop of unrivalled corporate loyalty, he or she will help you, calmly and impartially, to become what you are.”


It’s this, talent-centric sort of focus that I think provides the biggest opportunities for talent managers - though I do think the term ‘personnel’ often smacks of too much of an employee focus.  We need to put employees / talent / people first, not just because that’s the right thing to do for them, but because it’s also by doing this that businesses can gain the greatest returns as well.


You’ll also find interesting (I think) conversations on a people vs business perspective on this blog, and in the comments to this article at HR Magazine.  And I also love this article on 10 reasons the human capital zeitgeist is emerging.


Contact me to learn more about Careergro – the employee focused career management system (also exhibiting at the HRD conference).

And stay tuned for more on talent opportunities and challenges, and to win tickets for the Economist’s Talent Management Conference.



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  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com



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