As an organizational psychologist, I look at the world through the prism of systems and structure. I’m curious about how organizations form, what goals a system is looking to accomplish and what can get in their way. One trend I have observed is how the solutions and structures that traditionally served talent leaders and senior HR executives are beginning to unravel because of the new realities of the talent market. These changes demand that HR leaders confront their current thinking.
One key area this applies to is the traditional way HR organizes talent acquisition and talent management. Both roles are responsible for aspects of the talent journey, yet they’re treated as almost two distinct entities. Talent acquisition has been seen as HR’s sales and marketing team, and the mentality promoted is “Hire ’em and move on. Get bodies in the door.” Talent management, meanwhile, was viewed as the career caretakers, informing employees when they’re ready for their next role. “Keep your head down, work hard and when the right promotion comes your way, we’ll let you know” was the mindset there.
Now, companies need to align this antiquated arrangement to modern-day realities.
The way we got here, with talent acquisition and talent management being treated as independent bodies, is a story in itself. Suffice it to say, this view of these two HR functions is an unintentional consequence stemming from differing skill sets.
Within talent management, succession planning has been more administrative. These professionals set up standards, measure growth of talent and work with leaders on promotions. It’s more of a nurturing role; a far cry from the talent acquisition team’s recruiting focus. That side of HR is tasked with selling candidates on the company. So it’s clear that these roles require different personalities and have seemingly disparate motivations.
But times are changing. As technology improves, both of these HR teams are slowly coming together. This is likely because job seekers and current employees who never saw the boundary between the groups are now asking for more control and transparency in their careers. They want organizations to treat the entirety of their career journey as a whole and avoid the discomfort that comes from covert territorial battles happening internally.
With fewer people outside of the HR function seeing talent acquisition and management as sovereign, HR leaders need to reframe their perspectives. Adhering to the old vestiges can negatively impact the entire experience journey from candidate to employee, which can cost your company in terms of speed, agility and money.
Across the American business industry, Gallup puts the price tag of employee turnover at $1 trillion annually. Then there are the expenditures that don’t appear on a spreadsheet but hurt the bottom line just the same: the loss of institutional knowledge and problem-solvers. On the other hand, research shows that engaged employees produce better business outcomes. But only 33% of U.S. employees fall into the “engaged” category.
As an HR leader, it makes little sense to waste your resources on isolated talent technologies when a common solution at scale or updated processes can have greater effect. In the new world of transparency and self-service, make the move to bring your talent teams together. Here are some thoughts on how to get started.
When you’re trying to dismantle outdated HR mindsets, you must accept that everything will be challenged—even down to job descriptions and previous metrics for success. For example, talent management can have a greater role in filling positions. I recently spoke with a senior talent acquisition leader who had a global workforce of some 70,000 people. She mentioned having an epiphany after she realized it was easier for external candidates to find a job in the company than it was for existing employees. Today, after taking a 180-degree turn in their processes and procedures, her teams share the same line of sight into open positions and whether internal talent can be tapped.
HR executives may also consider putting a single person in charge of running the teams simultaneously. This could be the existing talent acquisition leader or talent management leader, or it may mean bringing on an incredibly versatile executive to fill a newly created position. That’s how much you need to make a change and take it seriously.
As an HR executive, it’s vital to create a mandate around your plans that’s supported and enforced by the C-suite. This creates seamless experiences for candidates and employees, and it allows you to accurately report on results. When I led HR and learning at a previous company, for example, I created a scorecard strategy. We looked at learning and development expectations and engagement and retention scores, as well as the experiences of candidates and employees throughout the entirety of their careers with us.
Change management is a top-down, bottom-up process. All levels of the organization must be committed to the success of your updated HR strategies. A key partner in this goal will be your company’s chief of operations. Since things can go haywire quickly in highly matrixed enterprises, the operations team can help your mandate succeed.
As the tides change, it’s urgent that HR leaders bring together the vital functions that their departments provide. Finding a way to align talent acquisition and talent management can ensure the department meets the shared goal of helping people find a job that nourishes their soul and feeds their sense of purpose.
By adopting an HR process that yields data-rich insights, involves key leaders and provides steady predictability, we can get the outcomes we want, when we want them and in the way we desire them.