Who Is Responsible For Talent?
I read a vendor produced white paper a day or so ago. The opening premise was that the responsibility for talent belonged to the CHRO and the CEO. (Note: This proposition supported a sales pitch.)
While I agree the CEO and the CHRO must be concerned and very connected to the company’s talent, it cannot stop there.
Who is responsible for maximizing revenue? The CFO and the CEO? What about quality? The CQO and the CEO?
Looking at talent management as a human resource responsibility is very short-sighted. As is looking at revenue as belonging to finance or quality belonging to the quality department.
Talent, revenue and quality belong to the entire leadership structure at your company. In fact, they also belong to every member of your team, no matter job title.
However, we do look for leadership roles to drive certain outcomes. Talent must be driven by any and all leaders who are in any way connected to hiring, terminating, evaluating, and scheduling others.
Yes, the CHRO can design and deliver systems and standards — ideally, with lots of input from other leaders. The HR team can ensure the processes used are responsive and accurately reflect the culture and values of the company.
However, the HR team does not have sustained, nor direct, contact with all employees day after day. Only immediate supervisors do.
Direct supervisors generally serve as the hiring officials for their teams. End an employee’s time with the company (or recommend termination) based on performance. Evaluate employee performance and coach as necessary. Schedule and allocate work assignments.
That’s where talent gets managed. Day by day. Every day of the year.
Why do I draw this distinction? Because, I believe it is human resources role to provide the proper infrastructure so that the true talent managers are most effective. However, it is too easy to delegate responsibility to those who deploy infrastructure — as though they, and they alone, are responsible for taking action.
Does talent management belong with your organization’s leadership group? Absolutely.
The CEO has ultimate responsibility for talent management.
The COO has ultimate responsibility for talent management.
The CFO has ultimate responsibility for talent management.
The CHRO has ultimate responsibility for talent management.
The CQO has ultimate responsibility for talent management.
The CMO has ultimate responsibility for talent management.
The CIO has ultimate responsibility for talent management.
Leaders of your divisions, regions, departments, functional areas, and work units also have ultimate responsibility for talent management.
In short, talent management belongs 100% with all leaders equally.
So what? What next? Well, each of us works at different organizations, with different challenges.
Your CHRO, with lots of input from other leaders, can lead an effort to define what talent management means for your organization. Get buy-in and support from other key senior leaders. Each must define what the talent definition means in terms of what they will specifically do to support the effort. Educate your leadership team. Then execute.
- Define what talent management means for you. Define this specifically for your company. Don’t try to copy someone else’s solution — it won’t work for you — your companies are different. What do you need to solve? What business initiatives need attention? What goals must be delivered?
- Look at a three to five year horizon. You may need to solve for issues in year one that will no longer be valid in year two or three. You have limited resources, so you cannot solve for everything all at once.
- Define several, very realistic goals for each year of your horizon. Realistic goals are imperative, otherwise you risk setting your team up for failure.
- Put together an action plan for each goal. The action plan will help you understand if the goal is realistic and achievable. If not, adjust the goal.
- Test your action plans, goals and strategies. Are they aligned? Does one help the other? Can commitments be achieved?
- Educate leaders. Ensure there is a comprehensive and thorough understanding by all leaders about why this effort is being made, and how they play a critical role in talent management success.
- Execute and track.
You might be wondering about differences in talent management strategies and goals. Let me share some examples:
If your company is deploying new technology, your strategies and goals will be focused on getting talent with a different skill set than current employees, and educating current employees on new skills.
If your company is growing rapidly, your strategies may be focused on retaining staff and rapidly hiring new staff so that business volume can be met.
If your company is faced with quality and performance issues, then your strategies may be focused on educating current employees about quality standards, and deploying quality measurement protocols along with increased communication to all employees.
If your company is faced with high turnover, then your strategies may be focused on retention of current employees and careful selection of new talent.
These are merely examples for discussion purposes. Of course, in our business life, we find ourselves faced with the need for multiple strategies to support multiple business issues.
Please, to ensure that you achieve success, exercise care in how much you choose to go after at one time. You will most likely find that, from year to year, your business goals and your strategies will change.
For any selected approach to talent management to succeed and to be sustainable over time, you must have the full engagement of all your leaders, from your CEO to your CHRO to all other senior leaders and including every front line supervisor. While what we have covered here is only the tip of the iceberg as it relates to talent, no matter what else you do, make sure you start with the proposition that talent is the responsibility of every leader at your company.
Do you have articulated talent management strategies?
Are your talent management efforts aligned from business goal to strategy to action plan to implementation?
Do all your leaders have a shared understanding of your company’s talent management initiatives?
Do you take time to review and update your talent management initiatives?
Are all leaders responsible for talent at your company?