Friday, June 18, 2010


Impediments to Keeping Top Talent...

Last week, I had the opportunity to do a stroll in the park with a good friend where we discussed how being in IT has changed over the years. He provided an interesting perspective on why many organizations fail at sustaining top talent that I haven't observed being discussed elsewhere...

We all understand the challenges of maintaining work/life balance for our employees, providing them with interesting work and competitive pay. We understand that culture plays an importance role and that it is vital that top talent have leadership they understand, respect and aspire to become like.

Many enterprises have superstars who are hiding in the wrong positions and not being appropriately leveraged. Sometimes this is a failing of leadershipmanagement to recognize talent but may be an even bigger failure on the fundamentals of human resource management outside the control of even those most senior executives.

Did you know that most managers are not managers of people? Nowadays, in a world of 360-degree feedback, perception is reality and other modern management practices, how much does any one manager have a say in the careers of their direct reports over someone who isn't even noted as having authority over an individual as defined by the HR system?

Most managers are not managers of people, but of positions! Observe the actions the next time your firm does a reorganization. You will note that it is more about musical chairs and who gets a seat than it is do with maintaining a higher level of talent within the organization.

Have you ever witnessed a scenario where say a star Java developer was displaced due to the reorganization while the organization retained an incompetent developer because they were not impacted by the reorganization? These are some of the symptoms of an organization where the practice of management of positions occurs over the management of people.

Imagine if you were a Java shop and you had top talent such as Joel Spolsky, Jon Skeet, James Gosling or Martin Fowler as employees. During the reorganization, would they be required to find their own positions in another part of the company or would someone step in having recognized them as top talent and ensure they didn't leave the organization?

How many reorganizations have you experienced in the last five years? Do you believe that shuffling the decks on the Titanic would have saved the ship? Many management studies indicate that it takes at least eighteen months before an organization can see the benefits of restructuring. Do you reorganize more frequently than eighteen months?

The challenge of hiring and retaining the best talent possible is at the core of success for many organizations yet few have realized that the challenge requires reinvent of the HR process where frequent reorganization is a symptom of something that is fundamentally broken...

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