Guest Blogger

by Dave Ulrich

Talent has been a primary agenda, if not obsession, for many general managers and human resource professionals for the last 20 years as captured in the maxim, “war for talent.”  This talent emphasis has led to innumerable innovations in how organizations bring people into the organization, move them through the organization, and appropriately move them out of the organization as summaries in Table 1.

Table 1:

Examples of Talent Choices in the War for Talent



Talent practice Example of talent innovation




Bringing the right people into the organization

Set standards

What are the skills we need for new employees?

·  Focus on future customer and investor requirements

·  Hire for culture, train for technical skills

Source candidates

How do we source new candidates?

·  Create positive employee brand social media

·  Use contingent workers

Screen candidates

How do we know if this is the right candidate?

·  Use behavioral event interviewing

·  Involve multiple interviewers

Secure candidate

How do we create an employee value proposition?

·  Create customized job offer

·  Involve senior executives in making offers

Orient candidate

How do we help new hire succeed?

·  Have mentoring programs

·  Manage early assignments





Moving people through the organization

Workforce plan

How well do we have a workforce plan for our employees?

·  Turn strategic goals into desired competencies

·  Focus on key positions

Training and development

How do we help existing employees improve?

·  Learn from work experience, training, and life experience

·  Make training a guest experience

High potentials

How do we invest in high potentials?

·  Set criteria for high potentials (usually 5 to 15% of workforce)

·  Create individual development plan for high potentials

Career and promotion

How can we help employees manage their career opportunities?


·  Offer employees tailored career path

·  Build succession based on business more than person

Manage performance

How can we build positive accountability for employees?

·  Focus less on performance process and more on conversations

·  Help managers coach and communicate more than command and control

Allocate rewards

How do we use rewards to reinforce the right behaviors?

·  Use financial rewards to send signals of what matters

·  Use non financial rewards to motivate employees

Engage employees (experience)b

How do we capture the hearts and minds of our employees?

·  Help employees find personal meaning from their work by creating a positive employee experience

·  Create tailored employee value propositions for key employees





Removing appropriate people from organization

Retain key people

How do we keep our best employees?

·  Find ways for key employees to behave as if they are committed

·  Rehire former employees (boomerang hiring)

·  Do a “stay” interview to listen to key employees

Remove appropriate people

How do we take out people in a positive way?

·  Do strategic downsizing, not across the board cuts

·  Move quickly and fairly for those who leave


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