Keys to People Management: Culture, Values and Potential

December 10, 2015 | By Maretha Prinsloo

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“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

– Lawrence Bossidy, GE

The management of people has to be aligned to an organisation’s business strategy and is meant to contribute to its overall effectiveness. Talent management activities normally involve: the identification of key roles and scarce skills; succession planning (which may include talent attraction, recruitment, on-boarding and performance management); training and development; performance support; succession planning; and compensation. These Talent management processes and the related strategies are meant to be integrated to facilitate employee engagement, empowerment and the building of a productive work environment.

Talent management needs have in recent years resulted in a proliferation of software products, which now constitutes a multibillion dollar industry. The availability of these products has largely redefined HR practice.

Although most of the automated talent suites available are useful, they also have shortcomings related to their strong business orientation; lack of focus on attitudes, values and learning potential; as well as the superficiality and inadequate validity of the psychometric offerings.

To many authors in the field these limitations need to be addressed as they are key to the management of people. They have thus suggested that the concept of Talent management be replaced with that of People management, aimed at specifically highlighting the importance of values and potential. A People management approach focuses on:

  • recruitment for potential and attitudes
  • a focus on values to ensure culture fit and agility (instead of merely skills)
  • employee engagement
  • empowerment via developmental initiatives and organisational culture.

This emphasis on the attraction and development of the right kind of people is supported by numerous research findings which regard it as the key differentiator in People management.

But how are the principles of People management implemented, and how do companies deal with talent and skills shortages?

There seems to be a significant gap between skills desired and skills hired. The 2014 USA Job Preparedness Indicator shows that only 7% of incoming employees meet some of the listed job requirements. Many companies have thus resorted to adopting a philosophy of “hire for attitude, train for skills”. Assessment for recruitment purposes should be leveraged to screen for candidates who may fit the organisational culture, who are motivated and who have the cognitive potential to develop.

“Time spent on hiring is time well spent.”

– Robert Half

Initial screening through volume assessments during recruitment, followed by the in-depth assessment of promising candidates thus remain key, as work experience and skills alone do not guarantee the cultural fit, growth and long term performance of the candidate.

Since almost 90% of new hires lack the skills to meet the performance requirements of the positions applied for, investment in training and development is also critical. A company specific, distributed, online training platform may be most useful to significantly cut onboarding of new employees and reduce the later expenditure on formal training.

Feel free to contact Cognadev should you be interested in low cost volume assessment, in-depth assessment techniques aimed at values, culture, motivation and cognitive potential, or the cognitive training of employees.