Let’s lead this conversation with the cover story in the June 2014 edition of Harvard Business Review, 21st Century Talent Spotting: Why potential now trumps brains experience, and “competencies” and challenge the common wisdom that we should be screening for talent using resumes. We should not.
More and more articles are emerging indicating that the market is way too fast paced and volatile to depend on old knowledge catalogued on a resume to make hiring decisions. Companies across the globe are moving to predictive talent analytics to help spot not only specific talent profiles that can and will do the job, but early talent that has little or no job experience in the job posted. Companies like Google are investing heavily to try to spot talent and companies like SAP international now use Predictive Index to screen all external and incumbent applicants in an attempt to find early talent that resume screening discriminates against. Where many HR organizations may feel that this is a risky move and may want to wait and see what happens before making a decision to move this direction, this is actually the safe move as it will guarantee the organization is getting the best talent for each and every job posted. Really how safe is it letting an organizing underperform or outright fail because of selection processes that do not deliver the talent needed by the organization to not only compete but thrive in a world that is best characterized by complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity.
In the HBR article, the author, Claudio Fernandez-Araoz provides some compelling insights. I suggest that this article be mandatory reading for any leadership team interested in delivering improved engagement and performance across the organization. Although the article does not address predictive talent analytics specifically, this use of these talent spotting tools is exactly what executive teams are looking for. Tools such as Predictive Index put people data at the front of the decision making process. Consider this evidence based talent decisions rather than the current process of making decisions based on feelings, intuition and competencies that no longer are relevant to the success of the person in the position. The author describes this new era as the era of selecting on potential. The last era was the era of selecting on competencies. The era that proceeded selection based on competency was an era when selection was based on intelligence, experience, and past performance. And just imagine just how many companies as still selecting based on era practices that were created 50 years ago, in a world that no longer exists. The author states “Geopolitics, business, industries, and jobs are changing so rapidly that we can’t predict the competencies needed to succeed even a few year out.”
The opening scenario in the HBR article provides a clear example of what many executive teams are battling on a day to day basis, not only at the executive level, but at all levels of the organization. Read this opening paragraph and ask yourself if this scenario isn’t one that you have witnessed or experienced. And wouldn’t you like to have a different way forward? The author opens with the following story, “A few years ago, I was asked to help find a new CEO for a family-owned electronics retailer that wanted to professionalize its management and expand its operations. I worked closely with the outgoing chief executive and the board to pinpoint the relevant competencies for the job and then seek out and assess candidates. The man we hired had all the right credentials. He’d attended top professional schools and worked for some of the best organizations in the industry, and he was a successful country manager in one of the world’s most admired companies. Even more important, he’d scored above the target level for each of the competencies we’d identified. But none of that mattered. Despite his impressive background and great fit, he could not adjust to the massive technological, competitive, and regulatory changes occurring in the market at the time. Following three years of lackluster performance, he was asked to leave.”
Two questions that I would immediately ask, Did this person have the cognitive profile to learn at a extremely fast pace? He would have needed a high cognitive profile to perform in this position. Did this person have the behavioral profile to excel in this job, in this company, in this industry, at this time? I would suggest that he did not. Someone with the potential but with a Skinny Resume would probably have exceled in this position. Too bad they did not select for potential, the game change would have been significant. So can you imagine the bottom line impact on this organization. I suspect it was millions. A small investment in predictive talent analytics would have had an extraordinary ROI. Predictive talent analytics are not an HR cost to be managed, most organizations make an executive decision to improve performance and view the move this direction as an investment with a predictable ROI.
If this conversation has not convinced you to explore predictive talent analytics yet, maybe this last thought from the HBR author, Claudio Fernandez-Araoz will. “As business becomes more volatile and complex, and the global market for top professionals gets tighter, I am convinced that organization and their leaders must transition to what I think of as a new era of talent spotting – one in which our evaluations of one another are based not on brawn, brains, experience, or competencies, but on potential.” I totally agree.
If you would like to learn more about talent spotting, workforce analytics, and people big data and how it can transform your organization, please contact John Inman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 425-954-7256.