HR & L&D challenged to reduce silos and embrace change

by | Apr 27, 2011 | Articles

Thomas Otter, Research Vice President of Gartner, keynoting at Plateau Insights Europe 2011, the European edition of Plateau’s talent management user conference, provided a number of challenges to leaders who are working in the Talent management and learning fields to take notice of the flood of opportunity that the current technology and economic climate is providing & to turn it to their advantage.

For those who couldn’t make it to Rome, here are some of the my takeaways from his session:

Breaking down talent Management Silos

Talent Management brings together 5 different talent areas – employee performance management (EPM- consisting of performance management, succession planning, compensation management) plus recruitment and learning. Despite the clear relationships between the functions most of the time, HR operate these areas under separate silos which are of very little interest outside of the department. At best, this operating structure makes very little sense to those who are actually working out in the business and at worse causes considerable frustration and data cul de sacs , particularly when staff are faced with multiple platforms and processes. Otter challenged the group to reduce this silo mentality within HR, if only for the sake of the end user!

Platform strategy –  Time to integrate

Organisations looking to progress their core talent management strategies are increasingly looking to integrate the process and this presents a number of challenges as many are at different stages of their journey. There are some organisations considering how to shift from paper or excel based systems whilst others, who have been using technology to support performance management, recruitment or learning, are now asking questions about how to bring the systems together.

Vendors in this area offer full talent management suites and there is increasing adoption of these systems. However, despite the range modules available from talent management vendors, less than 4% use the full range of modules available. The majority (86%) use 2 modules of the 5 talent management areas from a single vendor. (Data from the 2011 Magic Quadrant for Employee Performance Management Software Customer Reference Survey).

Whilst it it important to consider platform strategies and how you are going to bring data together, Otter’s key challenge however is that integration is only valuable when the areas being integrated are both ADDING value.
Otter recommended that organisations find 2 -3 vendors (1 in HR and 2 in talent management). He suggested that success comes when you commit to vendors and have them commit to you so that you can work together to think about issues such as platform not just functionality and reducing interfacing costs.

Talent management success – Getting closer to the user

To add real business value, it is critical to get closer to the end user. Political issues, for example working with work councils or unions, need to be considered but his strongest recommendation was to involve end users and line managers to find out ‘How can I help you make your job easier?’. When it comes to integrated talent management, simplicity, ease of use and value back to employer are crucial to ongoing success .

Time to trust the Cloud/SaaS

Unified learning and performance solutions are driving a performance driven culture but ‘on premise’ systems are proving costly to maintain and update so the trend is to move towards software as a service (Saas). Yes there are concerns about outside parties being trusted with precious HR assets and information. Otter argued that the specialists need to be trusted, after all, you don’t keep your money under bed, and you give it to bank. Talent management vendors know how to keep data more secure than many organisations –  they have more to lose if things go wrong. When it comes down to it,  who is more, likely to go digging into data? A disgruntled employee or a bored vendor? Who has most to lose if data gets out vendor who loses business and clients or an organisation who will be embarrassed at the leak?

E-learning Renaissance

E-Learning has been through the hype and disillusion phase and is now in plateau of productivity but moving forward it has to include self created content. When something labelled dead it is normally quite alive. Otter believes that the Lms is not dead , it’s just had a slight cold over last few years! LMS platforms still have future, especially when start to include social and mobile technologies.

Stop arguing about social software in talent management, embrace it!

Otter argues that most hr departments not pushing social software either with vendor or with themselves. He says that HR need to articulate their own social strategy and when they do so, will have an excellent opportunity to influence change. Currently the marketing function is driving the use of social media and whilst social media is in its infancy in HR and talent, there is no reason why HR can’t start to contribute and even drive strategy.

He recommends that on boarding/induction is a great area for trialling social learning projects- new staff coming in are familiar with new media so no change management is needed and technology can be used to connect new hires with each other, with managers, with administration functions before they start.

Getting number savvy -measurement lessons from Marketing

Marketing modern marketing crunch numbers for everything , they are able to conduct amazing analysis and are able to comment on brand, success of campaigns and much more, as a result they are securing budgets. HR have the same opportunities but are less comfortable with crunching the numbers. The marketing department have business case numbers for everything and they are able to do this without impacting their creativity.

HR have access to a tremendous amount of data from the various platforms that we operate but we don’t do a good job in putting it together and delivering it. Otter’s challenge to HR  professionals is to ensure that their board values the data from HR as much as other departments to help them making decisions. A specific challenge is the way that volunteered information is embraced. For example, we see a strong use of social media in recruitment and also the growing importance of volunteered information from staff via sites like LinkedIn. If volunteered information continues to expand, the challenge for HR is to understand how it can be included in organisational systems so that it is available for analysis to support decision making.
Otter shared 2 practical examples of where HR and L&D can easily embrace the numbers to show the value of technology – one is in recruitment (sources of new staff, recruitment costs before and after are readily available). The other is induction – where costs and reduced time to competency can all be measured.

(Read more on HR numeracy on TO’s blog 28th March – see below)

Take the current when it serves or lose your ventures!

With opportunity and change abounding, Otter completed the challenge to his audience with an appropriate Shakespeare quote from Julius Cesar:

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures
.

Further information:

Follow Thomas Otter on Twitter @vendorprisey

Blog: http://theotherthomasotter.wordpress.com/

Magic quadrant for employee performance Management March 2011

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