The Top 10 Talent Lessons of 2010

Jan 24, 2019

By Mark Vickers

We at i4cp conducted an enormous amount of research on corporate performance in 2010. While it’s impossible to sum it all up in one article, here are a few of the research highlights and lessons learned, as we look back over the past year and embark on 2011:

1. Get performance management right. We know some performance-management skeptics hate to hear it, but the research shows that PM is the cornerstone of integrated talent management. That is, it is more highly integrated with the other components of integrated talent management than any other components. Moreover, high-market performers are 20% more likely to integrate PM into their talent management systems than are low performers. So, build your business case and deal with any weaknesses in your PM system.

2. Don't assume your managers know what they're doing. When it comes to performance management, they often don't. In fact, less than a fifth of organizations have leaders who, as a whole, are either highly or very highly skilled at conducting performance reviews. High-performing organizations know this and are much more likely to train their managers in this area.

3. Stop stalling on social media. A lot of organizations are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to social media because it's so seemingly complex, chaotic, and insecure. social media, however, especially in the area of learning, can pay dividends and, perhaps even more to the point, the massive demographic cohort known as the Millennials is generally much more likely than other generations to use these technologies, both at home and at work. So, prepare to use these technologies to make them—and other employees—more productive.

4. Build your diversity business case the right way. There are a lot of good reasons to create a more diverse workforce, but high-performing organizations are more likely than other organizations to base the business case for diversity on the need to reflect their customer base and community demographics. Whereas 26% of high performers identify this as the primary business case for diversity, just 10% of low performers do. High performers are also twice as likely to say they pursue diversity to attract top talent.

5. Don't throw emotional dimwits into your high-potential pipeline. Higher-performing, larger organizations are more likely than other companies to focus emotional intelligence (EI) initiatives on leadership and high-potential development than on areas such as communication. What's more, about two-thirds of high-performing organizations apply the EI concept to their executive-level leaders yet fewer than half of low-performing organizations do so.

6. End the long era of lackluster leadership. The single greatest human capital failure of the last 20 years is the inability of organizations to excel at leadership development. In 2010, three-quarters of respondents to an i4cp study said developing leaders is a highly important issue, but less than a quarter said their company is highly effective in this area. This wildly disproportionate ratio makes leadership development the most critical human-capital issue of the year, and yet, i4cp has been tracking major issues for over two decades and has found that leadership is consistently at or near the top of any such rankings. In other words, it's never adequately addressed. Time to fix it. Look for a major i4cp analysis on leadership competencies in 2011.

7. Move HR far beyond efficiency. "Efficiency is a given in today's world," says Jay Jamrog, i4cp's Senior VP of Research. HR needs to be able to boost the performance of the whole organization. For example, study respondents from high-market performing organizations were about 30% more likely than their counterparts from low-performing companies to report that HR "drives change management" to a great or very great extent.

8. Just measure it. Companies that excel at talent management are nearly twice as likely to use workforce metrics strategies to a high or very high extent. Yet, the vast majority of firms are still mediocre or worse at workforce measurement. In fact, a paltry one-fifth of all study participants said that their organizations have such a strategy to a high or very high extent. (Please take a moment to envision the late, great Peter Drucker sadly shaking his head at the state of talent management circa 2010.)

9. Think global, act global. In 2010, we were all about global talent issues. Everybody repeats, "Think global, act local." There's some wisdom there, but companies also need to act globally, putting into place initiatives that make sense from the perspective of today's worldwide marketplace. For example, when respondents were asked about the degree to which their global leadership development programs change from region to region, about half of larger, high-performing global organization said this occurs to only a slight degree or not at all. None said their programs change from region to region to a very high degree, and 42% said they vary to a moderate degree. Bottom line: when it comes to localizing leadership development, less is more.

10. Don't just retain knowledge, retain networks. Yes, knowledge retention is critical and will become even more so in 2011 if the economy improves and voluntary turnover rises. It's hard enough to lose the unique knowledge of talented employees, but it can be even harder to lose their internal and external networks of colleagues, clients, experts and innovators. Our new Knowledge Retention Playbook notes, "The value of a single employee's network of internal and external relationships should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, the likelihood of preserving and transferring even a part of the dynamics of those relationships and collaborations often is slim at best." Yet, in today's networked economy—where relationships often equal money and performance—companies should be thinking about ways of capturing and preserving valuable networks.

I wish we had more space here—there are so many more research trends to discuss. But these are a good capstone for 2010 and a nice foundation for 2011. Our excellent i4cp research team looks forward to more great discoveries in the new year.

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About the Author(s)

Mark Vickers, Institute for Corporate Productivity Mark Vickers is vice president of research at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).