Marc Effron joins the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board this week with his post on building the right capabilities. Marc is the President of the Talent Strategy Group and author of One Page Talent Management. Marc’s talent management consulting provides a highly practical, broadly informed perspective to clients like American Express, Advanced Micro Devices, Fidelity Investments, and many more. He has served as VP Global Talent Management for Avon Products, started and led the Global Leadership Consulting Practice at consultancy Hewitt Associates. Marc was also Senior Vice President, Leadership Development for Bank of America. Full Bio…
Enough Excuses: Build the Right Capabilities
by Marc Effron
It’s getting a bit too predictable. If 2011 unfolds as the past few years have, a global strategy consulting firm will issue a report about the critical challenges in human resources. Their conclusions will sound two major themes:
- Senior executives worldwide are unhappy with the quality and depth of their organization’s talent. They’re unsure that the right capabilities are in place and quite sure that HR is to blame for any gaps
- When HR executives are asked to rate their own function’s effectiveness, their responses will be an order of magnitude more positive than how they’re rated by others.
We can rationalize why HR features so poorly in these reports but, honestly, our excuses for not delivering on our executives’ needs are starting to wear thin. “Our CEO doesn’t support talent development!” (Most CEOs desperately want great talent. They might not like the solutions you’ve proposed). “Our budgets have been cut!” (So have IT’s but they still manage to provide me with email and internet). “Our managers won’t invest the time to grow their teams!” (Yes, they will. You haven’t made it easy or compelling enough).
Out of excuses, our best plan is to admit that our capabilities are woefully short of what’s needed, then work furiously to catch up. A good starting point is to define what really allows an HR or talent leader to excel. To do this, we need to cut through the academic prose of typical capability models and present the (often unacknowledged) truth about how HR and talent leaders become truly influential.
My friend Jim Shanley (ex-Bank of America talent executive) and I created the 4 + 2 capability model to do just that for talent management leaders. The succinct version is below. You can contact me for an article with the longer version.
The Core Four Capabilities
- Business Junkie: Great talent leaders both know and love business. They understand the company’s strategy, how the products or services are produced and how they go to market. In addition to knowing their business, they genuinely love business. They wake up every morning thrilled to participate in the pursuit of making and selling things that produce a profit for their company, jobs for their employees and returns for their shareholders.
- HR Disciple: The HR Disciple has a broad understanding of the core talent management areas along with compensation, recruiting, organization development and engagement. They are a true student of the discipline of human resources.
- Production Manager: The best HR and talent leaders know that their job is to produce talent using a production line mentality. They must understand the raw materials available to them, the tools that can most effectively cut, shape and polish that material, and how to ensure that the finished product meets quality standards. They ensure the talent machine actually runs and produces talent.
- Talent Authority: A successful talent authority has a great “eye for talent.” They understand what it takes to succeed in a given role and have the ability to quickly summarize how well a given candidates fits with those needs. They carry in their heads an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of every leader in their charge.
The Differentiating Two
While TM leaders must be Business Junkies, HR Disciples, Production Managers and Talent Authorities, achieving their full potential requires more. The two differentiating capabilities are:
- Trusted Executive Advisor: The trusted advisor provides wise counsel on talent issues in a way that considers their client’s ego, personal hopes and fears, and reflects a deeper understanding of the organization’s financial, operational and political realities. This demands a high degree of professional credibility and strong executive relationships
- Courageous Advocate: The Courageous Advocate is appropriately aggressive in voicing their opinion. “Appropriate” means knowing how to select which battles are worth fighting and the politically productive way to bring potentially incendiary issues to the table. “Aggressiveness” means not being afraid to raise sensitive issues, to fight for what you believe is right and to push back just one more time.
We have a long journey ahead of us to meet our executives’ increasing demands for talent-filled organizations. The shortest path is to drop the excuses and start building the HR capabilities that can actually get us there.