Is there a single other management tool that has as poor a reputation or that is executed as shoddily as the hapless position description?  I don't think so.

So I am starting a campaign.  It's time to move the position description out from the depths of your work desk’s bottom drawer.  

You know what I am talking about. Most position descriptions are buried beneath a pile of files and papers and your surplus mouse pads, rarely to see daylight.  If you even have one.

Onboarding is a hot topic in HR circles, and rightly so.  Clearly it's important to bring new employees into the organisation in a way that sets them up for success in their job and has them excited about the company that they work for.

There's many articles about how to get it right or how to not mess it up, much of which contains good advice.  

But ... the most obvious critical thing to get right in onboarding seems to be missing from this advice ...

It is well documented that there is a significant positive relationship between leadership and a range of organisational and employee performance measures.

Therefore it is not surprising that the majority of medium to large size organisations are focusing on and investing significantly in developing their leaders. 

But is the investment delivering bang for the buck?  Well, not always.  Let’s take a look at five common fatal flaws of the design and delivery of Leadership Development Programs – and most importantly, how to avoid them.

AuthorMichael Sleap

Is there a more maligned piece of paperwork in the workplace than the performance management/appraisal form?

"The forms are too long and too complicated".  

"It takes too much time to complete the forms".

"The rating scale has too many/too few options". 

The list goes on and on.

According to an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report released today there are now almost one million Australians who work as independent contractors in their main job. 

 The Forms of Employment report provides a comprehensive insight into the shift in Australia’s labour market from the traditional employer-employee relationship built around full-time employment to branching out into other less traditional working arrangements. 

 It shows that as well as one million contractors in Australia’s labour market there are also around 367,000 employees engaged on a fixed term contract (one-third of whom are in the Education and training industry) and almost 610,000 ‘other business operators’ (people managing their own business).

Anecdotal evidence about the current state of performance management in Australia suggests that there is a significant proportion of employees without the fundamentals of good performance in place.  

So why then is it that managers in organisations don't treat the expenditure on salaries of employees with the same level of scrutiny that they do contractor or consultant fees?

One of the most satisfying jobs in my career was as a student when I stacked shelves in the dairy section of the local supermarket. No, seriously. I worked there for 7 years and I often felt a sense of achievement after a day of work having unpacked pallets of stock and seeing the fruits of my labour as I looked around at the full shelves. The work was highly tangible, fairly simple and repetitive, but enjoyable. But the work of a knowledge worker is quite different to that - it is often intangible, complex, ambiguous and varied, and carries pluses and minuses by way of comparison.

Do you ever hear yourself say or think that you feel like you have achieved little in a work day and would like to just get some real work done? Perhaps what we are lamenting when we say that is the lack of a tangible output that day and therefore we feel like we are not contributing to the team in a meaningful way or earning our keep.

AuthorMichael Sleap

I often hear or read about how difficult it is for companies to attract, recruit and retain high quality HR professionals.  The cause of this is often attributed to a hot market for HR professionals and insufficient size and depth of the talent pool. Yet it is the HR profession itself which often limits the talent pool from which it will consider recruiting an external HR professional into an organisation.  Look at a sample of job advertisements for HR vacancies and it is astonishing how frequently industry specific experience is listed as a mandatory criterion for a role, often with a minimum number of years working in that industry also specified (e.g. at least 7 years experience in an operational Mining role).

By defining the selection criteria so tightly for HR roles the potential talent pool from which a candidate may be sourced is dramatically reduced.  No wonder it is hard to attract high quality HR professionals to roles in your company – you are battling all your other industry competitors for a share of a small and relatively finite talent pool.  The result is upward pressure on salaries for HR professionals within that industry and employers lamenting the quality and quantity of HR talent in their ranks.

AuthorMichael Sleap
3 CommentsPost a comment

Selecting and implementing the right Talent Management System (TMS) to meet your company’s needs can be a daunting and challenging task.   So for those non-techie HR people (like this blogger!), here are seven things you need to know before implementing a TMS.

 1. Understand what a TMS is and the associated jargon This emerging field can be confusing for a typical HR professional with little IT background.  Learn as much as you can as early as possible about what a TMS* is and what the jargon means (SaaS, UAT, SSO anyone?).  This knowledge will ensure that you are better positioned to articulate your company’s TMS requirements, assess vendors’ products and ask pertinent questions to ultimately select the TMS of best fit for your organisation.

 2. First ensure a clear and shared a vision for Talent Management in your company Forget about the software initially – what is your company’s talent management vision?  What processes, tools and behaviours will support achievement of the vision?  Once you have helped create a talent management vision that your company’s key stakeholders (especially senior management) buy in to, you then have the foundations and mandate to find a TMS vendor that will partner with you to help enable achievement of the vision. 

Several years ago I read a book that challenged my thinking about organisational performance and talent management.  Notionally, it is a book about baseball and statistics, but its lessons extend to almost every aspect of the business world.  So even if, like many people, you have no interest in baseball and a loathing for or innate fear of statistics, please do persevere with this article as it is going somewhere! In the book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (also to be released as a motion picture late in 2011 starring Brad Pitt), author Michael Lewis set about finding an answer to the question “How do the Oakland Athletics (the A’s) consistently make the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs despite having a payroll substantially less than most other teams?”. 

For example, in 2002 the A’s were spending $US41 million on player salaries compared with power house team the New York Yankees whose payroll was around $US125 million for the season.  How could Oakland even be competitive let alone successful when they seemingly had such an inherent disadvantage?

Lewis discovered that Oakland had turned to Ivy League college educated statisticians (or sabermetricians, as baseball statisticians are known) who had identified the most important factors associated with winning a game of baseball, such as having players with a high ‘on-base percentage’.  Many of the statistics which the A’s found to be predictors of success were dismissed or simply not utilised by other clubs.  Oakland also found that many of the traditional statistics which baseball coaches, talent scouts, players and fans relied upon were in fact of limited value (e.g. ‘runs batted in’).

Lewis’ premise at the time was that the identification and selection of talent across MLB was often subjective, flawed and based upon outdated thinking from within the insular baseball fraternity.  Talent scouts tended to have a fixed idea of the typical attributes of a talented baseball prospect. This led them to overvalue players who looked the part (i.e. tall players with an athletic physique) and who measured up well against traditional baseball statistics, while they undervalued or overlooked those who didn’t fit the stereotypical mould.  It took a group of outsiders to the industry to look for, identify and utilise contemporary knowledge about high performance in baseball.

Oakland was able to exploit its use of statistical analysis and understanding of the drivers of success in baseball to give it a competitive advantage over other teams in recruiting and retaining players within its payroll constraints.  For example, they would often select players late in the draft who went on to over-achieve relative to expectations.  The A’s would also frequently cheaply acquire experienced MLB players who were undervalued by their clubs and trade their own players whom the market overvalued, thereby collecting a cash windfall whilst maintaining a competitive playing roster.  So Oakland were able to remain highly competitive despite spending much less on player payments than other MLB teams.

So what are the potential applications of Moneyball to organisations? 

Firstly, the question should be asked in each organisation “Do we know the main capabilities, attributes or activities which actually drive our success?”.  If the answer is “no” then you have some work to get started on. 

Next, once organisations know their success drivers they need to ensure that their recruitment and talent identification processes consistently utilise this information rather than primarily hiring and promoting people who fit the 'traditional' mould.

Finally, organisations should identify undervalued and overvalued talent (i.e. performance relative to salary) and utilise the information to gain an advantage over their competitors and/or to get more out of their talent budget.  While the specifics of undervalued talent will likely differ for each company, my hypothesis is that there is a rich source of undervalued talent in almost every industry – those people who do not fit the exact profile of the traditional ‘ideal’ candidate for a position. 

For example, a person may have less years of experience than desired by the hiring manager or they may have come from a different industry to that of the employer and are therefore overlooked or never considered for the position despite the fact they would have been able to perform to a high standard in the job.  When the selection criteria for a role are defined too narrowly, inevitably talented people who don’t fit the traditional mould are screened out. 

Conversely, those candidates who do very closely match the profile of a typical person in a given role in terms of years of experience and industry specific experience may tend to be overvalued in the market, inflating salaries and driving labour market churn.

So, the talent management applications of Moneyball are clear.  In today's highly competitive labour market with most employers identifying skill shortages as adversely impacting on their growth and profitability there is a large opportunity for organisations to challenge conventional wisdom, identify the true drivers of success within their business and to exploit imperfect labour markets by identifying and sourcing undervalued talent. 

Where do you think the undervalued talent lies and how can your organisation use it to their advantage?

AuthorStav Avramakis
CategoriesSports, Talent
5 CommentsPost a comment