5 Tips to get Your HR Teams Aligned and Committed to Talent Engagement

Organizations are ripe with silos. They can provide structure, but they can also disrupt collaboration, limit communication or hinder creativity. And they’re lurking everywhere … existing even in an area you would least expect, your HR department.

Most HR departments are separated in three distinct areas: 1) career development and recruitment, 2) performance management and 3) training. When working together, the best new talent is hired and their careers flourish thanks to the proper trainings that have improved their skillsets and honed their expertise. When siloed, none of this is possible. Consider the following:

Your company recruits a promising candidate, Melody.

Melody goes through several interviews and tests to determine interests, fit and competencies. A lot of information is gathered about her skills and career interests. Yet, when Melody is finally hired, this information seems to be forgotten, as it’s not shared with her manager or used to help matriculate her to the company or her team. Instead, she participates in standard onboarding, which is likely conducted by subject matter experts with whom she might never interact with again. She’s given a checklist of training courses to complete on a Learning Management System and sent to meet with her manager.

During Melody’s first meeting with her manager, she’s told the courses are just a “corporate HR thing” and she’ll do her real learning on-the-job. After 90 days, the manager quickly updates Melody’s 90-day Onboarding Checklist and submits it to a folder on an HR SharePoint site. Maybe the manager meets with Melody to review … and maybe not.

After 12 months, the manager sits down with the employee to complete the annual performance review using a new cloud-based software that the company has spent the past two years implementing (with the intent of increasing employee engagement). The manager tells Melody that she is doing a great job and has a promising future, if she can just improve a bit on systems she uses on a daily basis. Surprised by the feedback, as it was never communicated to her before this meeting, Melody simply nods her head and promises to do better. She leaves her meeting feeling a little confused … and a little less engaged than she had been before the meeting because she feels that her manager, and the HR department, let her down by not keeping her more informed on her strengths and weaknesses.

Breaking Down HR Silos

Those responsible for career development, performance management and training are all part of the same team, but they’re acting like individual players. And this isn’t just a theory. There are ample statistics to back this up:

  • According to the Towers Watson Talent Management and Rewards Survey, under half (44%) of employees say they are able to achieve career advancement with the structure and tools currently available to them.
  • Research firm i4cp provides similar data from its 2013 report, “2013 Keys to Performance Management.” According to this study, a mere 28% of respondents believe their organizations were effective at performance management.

So, what’s the solution?

Organizations need to retire the notion of Talent Management, in which each group is solely focused on its piece of the pie only, and adopt the mindset of Talent Engagement, where the department is committed to cohesively addressing the life span all an employee’s needs – from the hiring process through their climb up the corporate ladder.

Step 1: Focus on awareness. The good news is that the people working in HR genuinely care about their employees. The desire to achieve the optimal work environment, filled with the most engaged people, is their goal and so once they are aware of the dynamics around the silos, they’ll want to make changes. Each HR team needs to be an expert on a specific topic, but they must share one singular goal and be able to see how each team is better when bolstered by the other.

Step 2: Map out the workflows. Use the power of visuals to show what the organization could be like if the silos were broken down and if the various groups truly joined forces to achieve talent engagement.  Make sure the workflows serve employees and address the areas that are important to them and their overarching careers.

Step 3: Understand that technology is only part of the solution. So often, we think that a new system will save the day…but we forget about the behavioral changes that must accompany the system.  New talent software combines all three main areas of talent engagement, but without managing the organizational change, these systems will not live up to their potential.

Step 4: Create a partnership between HR and managers so employees receive the best guidance, coaching and mentoring starting on day one. Managers are the lynch pins to talent engagement and need to be invested in so they can help handle all the needs an employee has – from onboarding to training to promotions and more. Managers can help ensure all HR functions are blended under the umbrella of talent engagement. And when things come together and silos are broken down, managers will benefit greatly – they will feel more engaged and have higher performing teams. And that’s good for everyone!

Step 5: Embrace tactical changes. Hold regular all HR meetings when everyone – from all three units – come together. Create a trusting environment where vulnerable conversations can take place. Frame the problem so that everyone can unite on the solution – are we solving for our own sub-departmental needs or are we solving around the need for talent engagement?

If you can get everyone involved with employee management aligned and on the same mission, the quality of the employee you attract and retain will sky rocket. The impact of this will create the necessary culture shift where employee engagement becomes the norm – not the exception. Wouldn’t that be nice?

March 25, 2016


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