Expertise Is the Golden Ticket

 -  9/20/11

At IBM, increasing workforce quality and performance means equipping staff with the necessary skills and drive to do their jobs.

Leaders at Big Blue understand that driving growth in today’s business environment requires a detailed focus on workforce capabilities. Diane Gherson, vice president of talent at IBM, works with 1,000 employees in HR to serve IBM’s 425,000 employees and is responsible for recruitment, mobility, learning, executive development and placement, and workforce management. These pieces are part of a larger system IBM uses to develop and retain the technical talent crucial to its success and ability to maintain its tradition of innovation.

TM:Describe your company’s approach to talent management.

Gherson: We set out to be an organization operating in an inspiring environment and creating progress for the world. That’s our overall mission. We need to continually create employment and leadership practices that attract, retain and develop forward-thinking leaders and thinkers. We need to create an inspiring work experience where people can do their best and achieve their full potential. We need to be able to execute, to actually deliver what we’re trying to deliver through a performance management program and a career structure that facilitates that.

TM: That’s a hefty mission — how do you start?

Gherson: Starting from recruitment, it’s through selection. We want to be able to attract and select the people who will enable that mission. New employees join a virtual community once they join the company and belong to that community for the first two years. It starts with that and making sure we select against the competencies that we know enable people to be successful in this environment.

We have nine competencies and just went through a process of refreshing ones that were developed 10 years ago. The competencies we have today are: Partnering for client success, embracing challenge, collaborating globally, acting with a systemic perspective, building mutual trust, influence through expertise, continuously transforming, communicating for impact and helping IBMers succeed. Those are the things we look for when we hire, in the way we interview candidates and also in their backgrounds. We get this message out through our brand work as well, so we attract those people long before they apply for a job.

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