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Posted by on Nov 22, 2016

Well-Defined Roles Are the Basis for Long-term Talent Management

Well-Defined Roles Are the Basis for Long-term Talent Management

Business people at a planning meeting.In recent posts, we have discussed our experiences working on an assignment with a health care services organization to help them develop their organizational structures for job roles and job families. Until now, we have focused on the specific analytical diagnostics and processes for implementation of projects like this. In this post, we focus less on “how” we helped them and more on “why” organizations such as our health care services client are seeking assistance with their organizational structures.

Truly well-organized and well-structured organizations enjoy many advantages that all flow from the strength of their talent management activities. Talent management includes everything that an organization does to recruit, develop, motivate and manage, retain, and replace its employees, and is integral to the organization’s ability to meet its mission.

Every aspect of talent management is impacted by how we define our people’s jobs, specifically their job accountabilities, technical job competencies, and behavioral competencies. Without strong organizational structure (re: strong role and job family definition), organizational changes can take a heavy toll on the staff, responsibilities are muddled, accountability diminishes, and employees can be left feeling frustrated and confused about the integrity of their organization.

Here are some of the specific ways overall performance is positively impacted by an organization’s talent management; all of which must be linked to well-structured job roles and job families.

Workforce Planning: Workforce planning cannot be effective if the organization’s current state is not well evaluated and its challenges are not defined. Only then can managers measure and correct the divide between where they are today and where they need to be tomorrow. If we know what skills and expertise are needed, we can more efficiently understand what kind and how many people are needed to execute the strategic plan and meet the organization’s mission/objectives.

Recruitment: An organized workforce structure provides the basis for all recruitment by enabling the efficient development of position descriptions which are complete and contain distinct job accountabilities, technical job competencies, and behavioral competencies. If managers can articulate who they want to hire, it increases the likelihood of recruiting the right people who will add the required skills and experience to the organization. Conversely, without well-defined jobs and roles, the likelihood increases that managers will make hiring mistakes such as designing jobs around a candidate they like rather than one with the required expertise.

Learning and Development (L&D): For an L&D function to have the most impact, the organization needs to understand the skills and abilities it wants from its workforce. If not, L&D can become a passive and reactive group, working in an ad hoc manner to fulfill requests for training from individual managers that satisfy short-term knowledge gaps. With a comprehensive, documented blueprint for the job accountabilities, technical job competencies, and behavioral competencies of individuals and teams, the prescription for L&D is clear. By understanding what the whole organization needs, L&D can effectively evaluate the workforce, develop training programs to address all of the organizations needs, and evaluate training effectiveness against a refined set of criteria.

Performance Management: Similarly to L&D, performance management requires straightforward criteria against which to evaluate and develop employees. By having transparency and setting clear expectations for what is required of them, employees are more likely to understand and positively respond to evaluations and focus on identified areas of improvement. In addition, employees will see pathways to progressing through the organization and will be more motivated to strive for better personal performance.

Succession Planning: Succession planning works best when we know precisely what’s expected of future employees. If in isolation we review each position to plan for that role’s succession, succession planning becomes an ad hoc scattershot project based around individuals rather than what is required for the whole organization. When we focus on the required future-state of our people’s jobs, their accountabilities, technical competencies, and behavioral competencies succession planning is efficient, realistic, and can address the entire organization’s future needs.

Organizational Culture Development: Organizational job clarity also provides for the basis of a culture of accountability. If every employee understands what’s required of their role and function, it sets a benchmark and expectation for everyone. Cultures can be hard to develop and even harder to change. Setting up consistent and deliberate organizational structures serves to positively reinforce the culture and motivate everyone. People are more likely to pull in the same direction when we send and reinforce a consistent message that we are all accountable to the organization, and to each other, to perform our jobs as defined by our roles in the organization.

We often find that organizational initiatives fail to create their intended result. However, with organizational job role frameworks and job families, we find the opposite; that we can achieve far-reaching positive results throughout the organization by setting the basis for all of talent management. As described above, we notice that by elaborating a well-thought-out framework for our people’s jobs, their job accountabilities, technical competencies, and behavioral competencies, we can set the basis for continued organization health and performance.

But how can you get started?

Jim Sowers also contributed to this post.

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