Difference between Performance and Talent Management and How to Measure it

There is a difference between Talent and Performance management when you look at it this way – Performance Management is that discipline used to assess how well employees are doing against their goals to help drive revenue and growth in the organization, and/or what they contribute to drive out costs. Sadly, most PM programs are “backward” looking – they are done annually and are often just an exercise in completing paperwork so than annual merit increases can be justified. If you are doing annual performance reviews this way, PLEASE STOP. You are wasting you company’s time and money. Instead, make PM an opportunity to do, at least, quarterly reviews with you staff to see how they are progressing against their performance goals, which should always be tied to either DRIVING OUT COSTS OF OPERATIONS, and/or DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTING TO REVENUE AND GROWTH.

Talent Management on the other hand is a “broader” perspective of disciplines that can be implemented to help employees drive revenue and growth and/or reduce operating costs. Performance Management is just one of them. “Talent” is a collective of these additional disciplines:

Workforce Planning – how you look at alternative sourcing strategies to get the work done – full time equivalents, part time workers, consultants, contractors, and outsourcing opportunities. Your workforce planning efforts should assess the type of work you want to do (that contributes to revenue and growth and/or reduces costs), and who has the appropriate competencies and skills within your organization to do that work. From this you assess your “gap” and then put in place plans to “fill the gap” – move people from other parts of the organization, recruit from outside, “move” jobs to other sourcing options (temps, contractors, consultants, etc.).

Recruiting/Sourcing – having a strategy to execute on your workforce planning initiatives. Should you “recruit/source” internally, or go out and find the people you need? What type of work is best done by what type of worker? If the “work” is core to your business and helps differentiate you from your competitors, then it should be done by full time equivalents (“regular” employees). These are the folks you need to keep and nurture.

Leadership – Identify management and leadership skills and processes. Ensure leadership skills are identified in the multitude of leadership skill families: marketplace and product vision, people, technical or functional, and personal leadership (self control, driven, achievements…). And ensure, in the leadership of people skills’ family, their abilities to help staff realize their full potential (development) is assessed as part of their skill proficiency verification.

Succession Management – Identify or establish succession pipelines to ensure long term business success, in which all people (workforce and management) are continuously developed to take on more responsibilities and grow their capacity for future roles.

Learning and Development – Identify or establish a talent development model to increase speed to proficiency and improve cost efficiency. All critical skills’ learning processes should have success criteria to which employees should be measured against.

Collaboration – Identify or establish the processes and technology to connect people to the right experts, information and applications for knowledge driven worker productivity. Includes Skill profiles of all employees; Subject Matter Experts (SME’s), Mentors & Coaches; Job Performance Aid Tools (JPA’s); and the ability to capture intellectual capital (blogs, wiki’s…knowledge management).

Measurement – Identify or establish organizational metrics that will be used to assess business impact, program payback, technology, performance, productivity, cost optimization, adaptability, and workforce effectiveness. Identify appropriate dashboards that include “trending” indicators.

And, what about Measurement?  I reject the notion/contention that many feel that “Talent” can’t be measured, that it is an “intangible”. Measurement, costs, money, analytics are the language that CEO’s and CFO’s live by. If you can’t relate things in language they understand, they have every right to reject your “talent initiative”. You can (SHOULD!!) include in your proposals the “hard” measures that you will be willing to achieve as part of your talent initiative. You just need to dig, “peel the onion” if you will.

For any talent initiative, ask the following questions….

If we did [initiative X], what would that enable us to do, or what problem would that eliminate?

If we were able to “do that”, or “eliminate this problem”, what result would that help us achieve?

If the “results” you achieve cannot be expressed objectively, or with hard numbers, then keep digging. For example, if the result is “improved communications”, then keep asking….

If we communicated better, what would that enable us to do, or what problems would that eliminate?

Well, Mike, if we communicated better, we’d be able to fill our orders more quickly and with more accuracy.

Ah, OK, what does “fill our orders more quickly” mean? By 3 days, 5 days? What would that save us? And, if we are more “accurate” how does that translate into cost savings?

You get it…..

Dig, dig, dig……ultimately you will find a “hard” measure. When you do, ask these 5 questions.

1. What is the measure?
2. What is it today?
3. What would you like it to be?
4. What is the value of the difference?
5. What is the value of the difference over time?

These are the measures your talent initiative should address and commit to improving.

The basis for these thoughts on Measurement is based on an excellent sales training course I took several years ago. It is now offered by Steven Covey and is called “Helping Clients Succeed”. You can get more information about it at Amazon.com. Excellent course!

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