Benchmarking talent management systems

HR Management, Talent Management | 1 comment

I have recently been helping with a talent management project, as part of the Organisational Renewal Programme at the European Space Agency (ESA). One of the discussions has been about benchmarking and what other similar technological companies do, in regards to talent management systems as a whole and the management of technical skills (skill families) and individual competence plans (or bilan de compétence in French) in particular.

We’ve looked at both commercial technological companies and also other international (UN) and European organisations like ESA.

It has been thought-provoking because one of the aspects I and others believe, is that although benchmarking and finding out what others do can be interesting, the real learnings are more generic. The importance isn’t what other leading companies precisely have or actually do in practice. You can’t just steal the ‘best’ and have it work for you.

For the record, the generic learnings I presented were:

  1. Do not just copy or mimic the practices of other top performing organisations
  2. The importance is not what processes or tools you have; it is the disciplined delivery of talent management & leadership development that makes the system as a whole work, for both individuals and the entire organization
  3. Management involvement is also vital to the success of talent management: current leaders taking it seriously and spending time on it
  4. Internal consistency: the various processes and tools should fit together and strengthen each other
  5. Alignment with the organizational Strategy, Values and Culture is a must
  6. There is no deep science in the design: simply reflect what the organisation wants
  7. Keep formats (individual competence development plans for example) as simple as possible: get people to have the conversations not just fill in the forms
  8. But what gets measured gets done. So something does have to be recorded and reviewed. Both at the level of the individual but also for the organization as a whole.
  9. Finally, it is true that the individual should be responsible for their own development. But the organisation needs to support them with a variety of tools, input and feedback.

The external view – or outside-in – is important of course. And the project participants are very eager to learn from others and learn what others do. But too much enthusiasm for purely copying best practices in terms of processes and practices may not be the best use of benchmarking data in talent management.

1 Comment

  1. Michelle

    I have been a manager for many years in the oeprating room and in SPD and I have also learned one of the most important areas of success is in mentoring. I was taught by a wonderful director a successful manager will teach their leaders to step in and be able to handle day to day issues with little supervision. She expected her managers to teach and delegate responsibilities as she did her managers so that no areas was dependent on any one person but a team network for success. The flip side of this is learning from all. This includes lessons we can learn from all our technicians or anyone we work around. We should always be ready to teach as well as to learn at every opportunity.

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