Feedback from Talent Initiative 2.0 and further improvements for 3.0

09/09/2013 in

We’ve wrapped up our second round of Talent Initiative participants and I’m very happy to say that all of the improvements we made from the 1.0 version were highly successful and worked much as expected. We’ve also learned a great deal about where room for further improvements existed and have mapped out a series of further enhancements for the third round of Talent Initiative which is already underway:


Seminars on Human Capital Management: One thing we learned during Talent Initiative 2.0 was that having the senior leadership and a cross section of organizational representatives be more involved in review our findings, and then collaborating with us to define and implement solutions was all for the good. At our first retreats, going over the results of our discovery and analysis, we found that presenting that information, and trying to educate folks on best practices at the same time was too much. So we’ve created a series of seminars on human capital management ideas and best practices that we’re leading folks through in the run up to the retreats.  


Human Capital Management Steering Committee: One of greatest challenges of transitioning from an administrative to a more strategic human capital management function is changing the associated governance structure. The HR department can really lead and do most of what needs to happen to ensure that administrative HR functions get done: they can administer payroll and benefits, train managers to be able to interview without breaking the law, structure review processes that provide a defensible paper trail in response to potential wrongful termination suits and so on. However, HR needs to play a different role in regards to a the more strategic goals of human capital management. That’s because it’s ultimately the leadership team that makes decisions about who high performing, high potential leaders are; its managers who coach staff to higher levels of capability; it’s managers who hire new employees that reflect the organization’s culture and have the competencies needed for success; it’s managers and leadership that provides the nonfinancial rewards so essential for communicating culture; it’s leadership that sets the tone through communications, and so on. HR can play an essential role -- bringing expertise to the organization, coaching leaders and managers to be able to play their roles most effectively, etc -- but responsibility is much more shared.

As a result leadership and governance of human capital management is a more team sport (say in contrast to maintaining the books -- Finance, bringing in foundation grants -- development, and achieving program results -- programs.)

We started in 2.0 but are really pursuing more thoroughly in Talent Initiative 3.0 is working with the senior leadership team to create a cross-functional Human Capital Management Steering Committee, staffed by a cross-section of organizational leaders, that is vested with governance responsibility for human capital management.


Coaching: Related to the prior new feature of Talent Initiative is this one: coaching of the ED and Director of HR (or similar roles). What we’re finding is that making the administrative to strategic human capital management change at the organizational level, changes the work of these two roles in essential ways, and that as a consequence they each need coaching so as to be ready to lead effectively once the program ends. We have far richer executive coaching capabilities but we will focus during Talent Initiative on this narrower agenda.


Simpler Change Model: Clients are seeing our use of the Kotter change model, learning it by being in it, and then attempting to use it to accomplish a wider range of organizational changes. This feels somewhat like the experience at Taproot where clients learned about best practices in project management by watching our teams and emulating their project management approach; it was never the focus of the consulting engagements but was often cited as among the most valued results. In any regard, that model is a bit too complicated for our needs, and we’re moving to use a simpler 3-point model. There are many similar flavors but we’ve settled on materials published by Interactive Associates.


Metrics: Metrics are already part of our Human Capital Management Framework and a key component of the Strategic Human Capital Management Plans that we are producing through Talent Initiative. However, we’ve found that this area requires more attention. For 3.0 we’re making more of an effort to ensure that each plan includes a range of process, team and strategy-level metrics, and that we have defined instruments and base-line numbers in the Plan; we’re further working to ensure that the Steering Committees understand the metrics and can track and improve them over time.   


Clarify Changing AchieveMission Role: Most of the organizations we’re working with have experience working with strategy consulting firms, and that experience shapes their assumptions about the ways that we will interact with them. However, this work requires a quite different consultant relationship with the clients. We’re doing more in Talent Initiative 3.0 to bring those hidden assumptions to the surface and discuss the role we do play, and how that role changes over time in a very conscious way: during discovery and analysis we play a very active and leading role; as we transition into planning we play a more coaching role, guiding and supporting the task forces to be successful in writing their components, and integrating that work together into a cohesive whole; during implementation we play a range of roles from leading to coaching as required, always with the preference to guide the task forces and HR departments to be successful with as little of our help as needed. In this way, the clients are well prepared and confident to continue with implementation after we have finished.

It’s a lot of improvements and my team is understandably proud. If you have comments, suggestions or ideas, please let us know!