Note from the Capitalist: This post originally appeared over at John Sumser's HR Examiner. Since many of you aren't aware of the HR Examiner, I thought this post would be a good chance to introduce you to that site and share the review of Mark Effron and Miriam Ort's "One Page Talent Management" at the same time. Very cool book, I recommend it.
I’ve said it a million times, so I’ll say it again. Complexity is the enemy of actually getting people to use things.
Look around and you’ll see that it’s true. To chase the claim of having the best widget, companies over-engineer products as a standard business practice. Whether you’re talking about your life as a consumer or a HR pro, you’ve been impacted by an over-engineered solution.
First, let’s talk consumer products, and we’ll get to talent management later. You don’t need a HD video camera with 30 features and a 400-page user manual, you need a point and click camera that delivers good enough quality to share with others via the web. You’re not going to edit the 15 hours of high-end HD footage you have now, so why would you want more?
The Good Enough Ideology
Enter the Flip video camera. A snippet from a 2009 Wired article will get you warmed up to the concept of a “good enough” solutions:
“”The Flip’s [Flip Mino, small pocket video camera, which is how we tape FOTv over at Fistful of Talent] success stunned the industry, but it shouldn’t have. It’s just the latest triumph of what might be called Good Enough tech. Cheap, fast, simple tools are suddenly everywhere. We get our breaking news from blogs, we make spotty long-distance calls on Skype, we watch video on small computer screens rather than TVs, and more and more of us are carrying around dinky, low-power netbook computers that are just good enough to meet our surfing and emailing needs. The low end has never been riding higher.
So what happened? Well, in short, technology happened. The world has sped up, become more connected and a whole lot busier. As a result, what consumers want from the products and services they buy is fundamentally changing. We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect. These changes run so deep and wide, they’re actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as “high-quality.”
So what about your life as an HR pro? Are you using products that are hopelessly complex? Are the talent processes that you’ve developed to define your HR practice so complex that they actually discourage line managers and your employee population both from using them?
My guess is yes. Enter Mark Effron and Miriam Ort.
Simplifying Talent Management
Effron and Ort recently published a book, “ One Page Talent Management” (OPTM). I recently picked up a copy, and I couldn’t help but think of The Flip and the concept of “good enough” as I read OPTM.
In the book, Effron and Ort (accomplished Talent Management Pros with strong careers) argue that many companies add complexity to their talent practices without evaluating whether those components add any value to the overall process. More importantly, they rightfully point out that the added complexity adds headache-inducing time-wasters to core talent items like Performance Management, which turn managers off to the whole process and fail to improve results.
When Effron and Ort say “one page talent management”, they’re dead serious – and committed. They’re proposing you strip down your current practices to contain only the elements that truly add value. The good news is that they’ve taken a very scientific approach, basing every process recommendation on loads of proven scientific research that’s openly cited in the back of the book.
As a result, it’s clear they’re not guessing or just throwing opinions around. They know more than most people about areas like Performance Management, 360-Degree Feedback, Talent Reviews and Succession Planning, Engagement and Competencies. That’s what they do. What makes OPTM so different is that even though they have all that knowledge, they’ve opted to dramatically simplify the approach to each of the cited areas of Talent Management. Most experts with the same knowledge would chose to add features.
Instead, they’re seeking to build the Flip video of Talent Management. It’s just crazy enough to work.
If we stick with Performance Management as our target for simplification, Effron and Ort run through the research and recommend the following:
- No more than three goals total per employee.
- One page total for the whole system.
- No stretch goals.
- No goal weighting.
- No self assessments.
- No labels or numerical weightings.
Many of you look at that list and ask, “What’s left?” Great question. What’s left is a one page format with three goals, a couple of behaviors you want the employee to focus on, the metric each is to be measured by and space to list the results. That’s it. No more.
One Page Talent Management is a great read, and Effron and Ort’s work should be on everyone’s reading list. It’s rare that experts in the field attempt to downsell you on what you really need. And when you hear an expert attempting to downsell you – whether it’s your local auto mechanic, the kid at Best Buy or a Talent Management expert – you probably need to listen closely.
Once you move through OPTM, the only remaining question is the toughest issue you’ll face – are you brave enough to strip down your current practices (which you probably built) and tell your company they need less, not more?
Good luck with that.