Tear Down the Walls

There is much to say about the benefits of integrated talent management. Certainly, the drive to integrate the various talent management functions is now supported by solid technology that enables an end-to-end approach.

Progress toward true integration, however, depends on the appetite and readiness of human resources to tear down the walls between the different units within the function. Some functions, like recruiting and learning, are housed in separate units within companies. Unfortunately, my recent research shows that progress toward integration is slow.

Each of the talent functions takes on even greater value when brought together with the other talent functions. The potential benefits of integration include the following.

Learning with other talent functions:

  • Uses performance to prescribe remediation for areas of weakness.
  • Highlights and develops strengths.
  • Keeps tabs on skills and competencies to identify expertise.
  • Can build an initial candidate competency list.
  • Onboards new hires to speed time-to-productivity.

Recruiting with other functions:

  • Exposes open position search to internal and external candidates.
  • Provides a talent success profile with which to seek the right candidates in the future.
  • Determines a quality-of-hire metric that is truly performance-based.
  • Builds succession scenarios that compare internal and external resources.

Performance with other functions:

  • When paired with recruiting can offer an initial talent profile.
  • Builds a quality-of-hire metric that is truly performance-based.
  • Sets and monitors performance-based salaries and incentives.
  • Identifies the path for individuals and finds future leaders.

So where are we? In March, I conducted an IDC survey of 500 HR executives in which I asked them to share the degree to which their talent processes and technology are integrated.

Overall, the reported integration was much lower than I would have expected, showing a minority of firms with much in the way of integration in place. Moreover, smaller companies fared better than larger ones; they have less bureaucracy to navigate, which likely contributes to greater success.

The pairing with the highest degree of integration reported was performance and compensation. This is to be expected, as in most organizations pay is tied to performance. However, I expected the prevalence to be even higher than it was.

The least integrated pairing reported was learning and recruiting. Interestingly, the training and recruiting functions are those that frequently have a looser connection with each other. This learning/recruiting disconnect underscores that integration challenges are likely organizational in nature. In pure talent management terms, learning and recruiting integration is key to onboarding new employees — obviously a missed opportunity in many organizations.

The bottom line: HR still needs to put its house in order by breaking down functional barriers that inhibit full talent management success. Sadly, many HR teams still shop for a single talent module based on a short-term pain or need, with vague plans for down the road.

There is no easy fix for integrating talent management, as it stems from processes that are not naturally integrated. Technology on its own is not the answer, either. But a goal of using modern solutions can indeed serve as an incentive for change.

As a team, talent practitioners need to do the hard work of collaborating on where people would benefit most from initial process integration. For some, it may be learning and performance; for others, it may be recruiting and learning. Consider the use cases I’ve offered and build your own.

Once goals are set, you can bring technology discussions into the picture and begin planning how you will implement. Early successes will help pave the way for further integration as you go.

You may need executive buy-in, so I hope that the benefits laid out here will help you present the case to the executive team that integration helps everyone.

Lisa Rowan is the vice president of HR, talent and learning research at research firm IDC. She can be reached at editor@talentmgt.com.