“It’s a different way of thinking about talent”

Most leaders agree that their biggest business problems are people problems. The hard part with people problems is that it can be difficult to objectively identify and address them. Confronted with this, we look internally and we find that we are not always great at putting the right people in the right roles and we do too little to prepare and train our managers and future leaders.  We are plagued with poor job fit, bad management, poor team dynamics and poor cultures.

“Talent is arguably the last big differentiator a business has. It’s what stands between average companies and innovative companies.”

So, Talent Optimisation is how the Predictive Index tool helps companies perform better and helps employees be happier, more engaged, and more productive.

  • The first is a principle of talent optimization. You are all leaders regardless of your role. Leadership must extend beyond senior leadership and managers. Every individual can influence the work to be done and the people around them.
  • The next idea is that the most effective leaders practice talent optimization. You will see why this is so important as we talk through what talent optimization is and the impact is has on business results.
  • The next theme is that PI tool offers a solution to optimise talent by creating alignment. This is alignment between people and jobs, people and their managers, people and their teams, and finally people and the organisation.

The goal of any business strategy is to achieve certain business results.

Every year the business strategy is established and the company is taking action to achieve specific business results.

At the end of the year, companies look at their business results, and one of two things have happened. Either they met their goals, or they didn’t.

If the company did not meet their goals, the reason is typically because something went wrong in the middle and usually it has to do with some kind of people problems – such as high turnover, or some kind of engagement problems.

The ”people part” of the equation isn’t clicking.

Businesses haven’t approached the people part of their business with the same kind of rigor they use for other parts of the business. Every business is concerned with the data about finances and profit.

They don’t realize that there are equally important people data that can help them succeed with the talent strategy, the way business data helps them manage their finances”

Talent optimisation is designed to help you create a talent strategy that will enable you to execute your business strategy to successfully achieve your business results.

Question: Once you have become clear about your business strategy – does that naturally lead to results?

 Answer: No – it doesn’t magically happen.

The next step is to really be intentional about how you’re going to accomplish this with your talent. This is the Design phase. This is the solution that bridges the gap between talent strategy and business strategy.

Think of Design as putting your basic talent infrastructure in place.  This is where businesses figure out how the organisation should be structured and how things will get done. Design is where it all begins; and it should be revisited every time there is a major change in the organization.

The Design aptitude is all about strategy alignment.  In order to achieve your targeted business results, you have to align your talent infrastructure to your business strategy.

This includes elements such as:

  • Ensuring your organisation is structured in a way that makes sense for the business strategy.
  • The senior leadership team is of course a critical piece of executing the strategy. Therefore, you must evaluate the degree to which the leaders’ behavioral styles align to the strategy itself.  For example, what if your strategy is highly focused on innovation however most of the members of the leadership team aren’t naturally wired to drive innovation?
  • You must also understand the dynamics of the senior team. How do they work together as a cohesive team to make decisions, communicate, and take action?
  • Lastly you have to purposefully establish an organisational culture that is tightly aligned to reinforce the behaviors that support the business strategy.

PI has developed a product suite to help senior leadership teams come to an agreement on their strategy by using a Strategy Assessment along with consulting. This product also evaluates how the behavioral styles of the senior leadership team align to the agreed-upon strategy. This also helps the team to think about what kind of culture to foster and sets the stage for the overall talent strategy

The next aptitude is Hire. The Hire aptitude is about candidate fit.  To successfully execute the business strategy, you must get the right talent into the right roles.

Hire includes elements such as:

  • Ensuring that the candidate’s behaviors and motivations are aligned to the requirements of the job.
  • This goes beyond simply looking at job fit. You must also equip your leaders to find the candidate that is the best fit for their needs.  This is accomplished by ensuring you are using people data to present leaders with only the highest caliber candidates.
  • When leaders are preparing to interview those high potential candidates, you can further use that people data to identify the best interview questions to use for confirming strengths and probing areas of concern.
  • When you hire a new employee and add them to a team, you create a new team. It is critical that you understand the behavioral styles of candidates and your existing team to predict how those dynamics might play out in order to assess candidate team fit.
  • A candidate may be capable of doing the job and fit well with the team, but are they a good fit for the culture? Culture fit must also be evaluated to ensure candidates will act in ways that will reinforce the culture you have built and feel that they are a good fit for the organization.

Hiring the right talent is critical, but you also have to keep employees happy and engaged in order to be really productive – so they’re pushing your business strategy forward enthusiastically.

 This is where the Inspire aptitude comes into play.

 Inspire is about employee productivity and engagement.

This includes elements such as:

  • Create compelling career paths for employees.
  • Developing the capabilities of your leaders to enhance self-awareness of strengths and development areas and understand how to better manage relationships with others.
  • Most work gets accomplished in teams, you have to invest in improving group dynamics such as communication and decision making to create high performing teams.
  • In Design we talk about intentionally creating a culture that supports your Business Strategy. However, if left unmonitored, you can lose that culture you worked so hard to create.  In Inspire, you reinforce and maintain your culture through communication, recognition, and rewards.

At this stage, Talent Optimization has already accomplished a lot:

  • In Design you’ve aligned your talent infrastructure with the Business Strategy
  • In Hire you are focusing on candidate fit to get the right people in the right roles to execute the strategy
  • In Inspire, you are developing employees to maximize productivity and engagement

You’ve successfully aligned your talent strategy with your business strategy.

However you still need to continually monitor your talent strategy to make sure it’s working.  That’s where the Diagnose aptitude is critical.

Diagnose is about monitoring people data.  You need to understand what is working, what is not working, and then take action to make adjustments.

Diagnose includes elements such as:

  • Measuring what matters. You can accomplish this through tools such as employee experience surveys to measure engagement.
  • Analyzing the data. For employee experience survey data, this is about identifying takeaways such as celebrating the successes of the organization and also extracting your blind spots and key opportunities for improvement.
  • Prescribing improvement actions. Once you’ve identified those improvement areas, you must take action to drive positive change. This will enhance the health of your talent strategy and increase the likelihood that your organization will achieve the targeted Business Results.

PI has created a solution for Diagnose. This product suite consists of the Employee Experience Survey, an Employee Experience Coaching package, the Diagnose software, and a workshop for managers to help them take action based on their results.

Some of the differentiators the Employee Experience Survey and the product are that it shows scores across the dimensions of job fit, manager alignment, interactions with people at work, and organisational culture and compares results to a benchmark. It also provides a summary of strengths and blind spots which allow managers to take-action based on the results.

In addition to the aptitudes we just reviewed, there are also 4 “Talent Optimization (or TO) Essentials” that are at the core of everything we practice in this discipline:

  1. TO takes place within a business context. The talent strategy is created and executed to align to the Business Strategy and achieve Business Results.
  2. TO is driven by people data. Organizations must take an objective, systematic approach to understanding people in organizations and using the resulting insights to make improvements to the way they work.
  3. Must be embraced by leaders at every level. TO is not just the domain of the C-Suite or HR.  Employees at every level of the organization can adopt this mindset and become talent optimization leaders.
  4. TO protects against the four forces of disengagement. Disengaged employees give little discretionary effort and instead do the bare minimum. Remember how we talked about how talent optimization creates alignment between people and jobs, people and managers, people and teams and people and the organization earlier? Well, disengagement is what happens where alignment does not

The four factors of disengagement are:

  1. Misalignment with the job: Poorly defined positions, sloppy hiring processes, or evolving business needs create a mismatch between employees and their roles. Lack of job fit directly impacts motivation and productivity.
  2. Misalignment with the manager: The relationship between employees and their managers is critical, yet many managers are poorly equipped or not trained to effectively understand their employees’ individual needs. They struggle to communicate with and motivate their employees.
  3. Misalignment with the team: Team-based work is more critical than ever, yet poor communication, insufficient collaboration, and inability to manage the tensions inherent to teamwork continue to extract a massive tax on productivity and innovation.
  4. Misalignment with culture: To be productive and engaged, employees need to feel they belong. When they feel out of tune with their organization’s values, or when they lose trust in their leadership, their own performance suffers, and they can create a toxic work environment that undermines productivity.

And there you have it Talent Optimisation in 1832 words!