“Talent management” is clueless, and definitely not any type of “science”

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This will be short.

The paragraph in question would be from here:

As academic reviews noted, the first and most important decision that needs to be made in this regard is to decide “potential for what?” Unfortunately, most HiPo interventions focus on individual career success — “potential to move up two roles in five years” is a common definition — but the ability to advance one’s own career does not guarantee that one will make a crucial contribution to the organization. In fact, most organizational leaders — and it would be hard to argue that these people have not attained individual success, since they got to the top — don’t have a positive impact on their teams and organizations, with estimates suggesting that at least 1 in 2 leaders cannot engage employees and fail to turn their teams or organizations into high performing machines. Indeed, there is no shortage of leaders who turn A-players into a B-team.

Stop and think about this for one second

We regularly assume that “individual advancement” is in some way connected to “organizational betterment.”

Yet we know that 82 percent of managers end up being a bad fit for the role.

And we know that incentive structures are usually pretty skewed in orgs.

So …

The whole way we think about talent management — A-Players, High Potentials, etc. — is skewed too.

There’s not necessarily any correlation between attainment of individual success and the company getting better.

There’s definitely not a causation.

Organizations run off Pareto Principle, in general — 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the productive work.

But getting individually-advanced doesn’t mean you’re in that 20.

It just means you play politics, are close to the power core, or are good at being seen as an executor, even if you’re executing on busy work.

What should we be doing?

Find the 20 percent that drives the productivity. The “Hi-Pos.”

Reward them.

Encourage them to continue to do that.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean making them a manager.

Some might not want that.

Many wouldn’t even be good at it.

Reward them in ways that matter to them — maybe it’s more money, but maybe it’s more flexibility in schedule, etc.

You reward them because they are legitimately productive and driving the overall organization forward.

That sets the model of “If you advance the org, you get advanced too.”

The new conversation

At some point I guess the conversation needs to become this:

Are organizations real, or are they just a random collection of individuals hustling for self who happen to be on the same servers?

In many places I’ve worked — usually the places with the worst leadership — it feels like the latter. We’re all just randomly connected souls who happen to get direct deposits from the same name every few weeks.

People smarter than me have also argued that the modern structure of organizations makes no sense.

What do you think? Does the way we conceptualize “talent management” make any sense in terms of individual advancement vs. organizational advancement?

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