Talent Edge Weekly Best of July - Issue #190
Covers 15 of the most popular resources from the July issues of Talent Edge Weekly.
Welcome to Talent Edge Weekly!
This special "Best of July" issue brings you 15 of the most popular articles and resources from the July issues of Talent Edge Weekly.
Since this “Best Of” issue has considerably more content than our regular weekly issue, the 15 resources have been organized into the following three categories to help you navigate the content.
Skills and Development. Building a skills-based organization, learning and development playlist, the impact of generative AI on the skills of the future, and investing in and developing middle managers.
Culture and Talent Practices. Managing organizational change fatigue and information overload, remote work, employee retention risk, assessing employee potential, and performance management.
HR Effectiveness. 15 resources for Chief HR Officers, building an HR strategy, HR budget and efficiency benchmarks, and HR and the board of directors.
Also included are the 2023 Job Cuts and Layoff Tracker and the Chief HR Officer Hire of the Month.
While I realize there is much content in this Best Of Issue, my goal is to provide you with both depth and breadth so that you can gain the most value.
Let’s dive in!
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THIS MONTH’S EDGE
I. SKILLS AND DEVELOPMENT
Building a skills-based organization, learning and development playlist, the impact of generative AI on the skills of the future, and investing in and developing middle managers.
Many organizations are shifting towards skills-based talent practices. However, research by Deloitte reveals that fewer than one in five organizations have fully embraced these practices. To aid HR practitioners in transitioning their organizations to a more skills-based approach, this article outlines 10 steps for building a skills-based organization. These steps are divided into three categories: 1) Building the business case for skills, 2) Deconstructing work into tasks and skills and determining organizational needs, and 3) Managing the transition and change by incorporating skills into HR practices. While each category is crucial and comes with its own challenges, deconstructing work into tasks and skills (#2) remains an area where many practitioners are still seeking guidance. With this as the backdrop, the article includes an image illustrating the process: start with the work to be done, break it down into tasks, translate those tasks into required skills, automate tasks that can be automated, and assign remaining tasks to employees who possess the necessary skills. As many organizations still use jobs as a framework for organizing work, I am resharing a template I created and which helps practitioners begin the process of analyzing jobs and breaking them down into tasks. The template consists of sections to list roles under consideration, the meaningful tasks associated with those roles, the skills required to carry out those tasks, and employees who likely possess the skills to perform them effectively. Although this worksheet has scalability limitations, it serves as an initial step toward developing task-based work planning and skills-based talent practices.
This new article by Josh Bersin discusses creating a skills-based organization—highlighting the realities and challenges associated with its implementation, and providing considerations for practitioners who are responsible for navigating these challenges. While there are too many useful insights to summarize adequately from this in-depth article, a few points to highlight are: 1) Building a comprehensive skills taxonomy is a complex task, since skills fall into various categories (e.g., technical, operational, functional, industry, management, and leadership) and vary in importance across different organizations and industries. Due to the extensive number of skills in a taxonomy, every word choice becomes a matter of debate (e.g., collaboration vs. teamwork; Java or Java programming, etc.), adding to this complexity. 2) Instead of attempting a comprehensive approach to skills to start, focusing on specific problems within the organization can prove more effective. For example, if you have high turnover and low morale in customer service (the problem), you might find, after digging into the problem, that one cause is that teams may not have the right skills for the role they are in. One example mentioned is Amex—who realized that the "skills" needed in the Amex sales and service teams were not customer service skills but hospitality skills. Amex treats clients like guests, so they started recruiting from Ritz-Carlton and other hospitality companies. It took a skills-based analysis to figure this out. From the problems, organizations can determine which skills-based vendors work best in helping to solve those problems, create a process for design and governance, and more. It is important to thoroughly read the article to fully benefit from Josh's comprehensive insights, as there is much more to explore.
This one-page PDF includes a playlist of five resources for enabling learning and development (L&D) in an organization. These resources include: 1) 2023 LinkedIn Learning Report. This 52-page report dives into various L&D topics, including internal mobility, upskilling/reskilling, and career development, to name a few. 2) The New Learning Environment by Gartner HR. This 42-page issue includes six articles dedicated to the opportunities and challenges facing the L&D function. And while this issue is focused primarily on L&D, all HR practitioners can benefit from the content as it covers areas related to the entire talent ecosystem. 3) Intentional Learning in Practice: A 3x3x3 Approach by McKinsey. This article provides a “3x3x3 framework” that fosters intentional learning by encouraging learners to 1) define three development goals, 2) over a three-month period, 3) while engaging three other people to support them in those goals. 4) Executing the CEO’s Agenda Through Targeted Learning by MIT Sloan Management Review. This article offers four actions for driving targeted learning, including measuring the impact of learning initiatives. 5) Template for Auditing 6 Non-technological Barriers to Internal Mobility in an Organization | Brian Heger. I share a one-page editable template that provides talent practitioners with a simple way to identify if six non-technological barriers to internal mobility exist in their organizations. The playlist has clickable links to all the source documents and a brief description of its contents. As a bonus recommendation, you should also check out one of the classic books on development published by the Center for Creative Leadership, Eighty-eight Assignments for Development in Place by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. This book is packed with developmental suggestions that are still very relevant today.
This new 76-page report provides a comprehensive review of the impact of generative AI on work, the workplace, and workforce. A few highlights include: 1) By 2030, Generative AI has the potential to automate up to 30% of the current work hours in the US economy. 2) These changes are expected to enhance work processes for STEM, creative, business, and legal professionals rather than leading to widespread job eliminations. 3) Job losses will primarily affect office support, customer service, and food service job categories. 4) Approximately 12 million occupational transitions may occur in the US by 2030 because of generative AI, with lower-wage workers facing up to 14 times more transitions than their higher-wage counterparts. Women are 1.5 times more likely to seek new occupations. To tap into this emerging talent pool, organizations will need to adopt a more inclusive candidate evaluation process—removing unnecessary credential requirements, embracing candidates with unconventional career paths, and evaluating individuals based on their capacity to learn, intrinsic capabilities, and transferable skills. The report highlights that more than half of all role transitions involve a significant acquisition of new skills, underscoring the potential for organizations to leverage workers’ transferable skills for different work opportunities. Several other topics are covered, such as how organizations can tap into historically underutilized talent pools. With this as the backdrop, I am resharing this bonus 74-page report by Harvard Business School and Accenture titled Hidden Workers: Untapped Potential.
The article emphasizes the importance of middle managers in organizations and their direct impact on financial outcomes. Research conducted by McKinsey reveals that organizations with high-performing middle managers achieve significantly better total shareholder returns (TSR) than those with average or below-average managers. The article identifies 11 key manager behaviors that are positively correlated with financial performance. These behaviors include being creative, entrepreneurial, open, trusting, operationally disciplined, authoritative, challenging, consultative, supportive, inspirational, and focused on talent development. To promote the development of these behaviors among middle managers, the article suggests five recommended actions for organizations, such as: a) Optimizing the organization’s structure and role design: This ensures that managers have sufficient time and capacity to focus on strategic thinking and leadership. b) Resetting manager roles: By eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic tasks and utilizing emerging technologies like AI to automate repetitive tasks, managers can devote more attention to important responsibilities. c) Establishing accountability mechanisms: This tactic involves implementing performance management systems that align with desired manager behaviors. Setting goals linked to these behaviors, providing continuous feedback and reviews, and implementing consequences tied to performance can help drive the desired outcomes. Several other ideas are discussed. Organizations can reference this research as they identify opportunities for building manager capabilities that drive business performance and other important outcomes.
II. CULTURE AND TALENT PRACTICES
Managing organizational change fatigue and information overload, remote work, employee retention risk, assessing employee potential, and performance management.
As many organizations implement changes in the workplace, I have received multiple requests for resources in change management. Behind these requests is a growing concern that the volume and pace of change that workers continue to experience contribute to employee burnout, disengagement, and change fatigue. While various factors contribute to this overall sentiment, one significant factor is the overwhelming number of technology changes employees are exposed to in an organization. The article provides strategies for how organizations can include “change fatigue” as a factor for deciding when and how technology changes and implementations are made in an organization. Since Chief HR Officers and their teams work closely with CIOs and the IT function on managing tech implementations, the two functions can partner to incorporate fatigue as a component of the organization’s decision-making process regarding how and when it releases technology changes. The article provides a case study example from Sky Cable, which plans and releases technology changes based on employee capacity, not just business urgency. Employee capacity is estimated through qualitative discussions with business leaders using questions such as: “Of the changes discussed, which one do you expect to cause the most stress and fatigue in your team?” Based on these assessments, the CIO collaborates with business leaders and decides whether to rescope, release, delay, or eliminate changes. Several other ideas are discussed.
Over two years ago, I shared a Fortune article titled, Why Cognitive Load Could Be the Most Important Employee Experience Metric in the Next 10 Years. Cognitive load (CL) is a theory suggesting that excessive information processing hampers task performance and learning. Increased CL can negatively impact decision-making, performance, wellbeing, and employee experience. Today, with growing digital data and processing demands (e.g., emails, chat tools, video conferences), employees are more likely to experience cognitive load. This new article offers an overview of information overload in organizations, its root causes, detrimental effects on individuals, teams, and organizations, and strategies for reducing it. One approach for reducing cognitive load is to practice thoughtful information sharing, such as encouraging colleagues to refrain from CCing and BCCing when not necessary, and avoid sending “FYI” messages altogether. How can you and your team mitigate the harmful effects of information overload? Should you change how you share information, what type of information you share, when the information is shared, and with whom? These questions could make for a fruitful discussion during your next team meeting, and implementing the answers might help to simultaneously boost employee productivity, performance, wellbeing, and the overall employee experience.
As the debate on remote work continues, I have curated this one-page playlist of five resources to help organizations evaluate different aspects of remote work more intentionally. While some resources are more recent than others, they all address essential topics in the ongoing discussion on remote work. For example, McKinsey shares an analysis of which tasks and activities can be performed remotely without a loss of productivity. Similarly, an HBR article offers a framework for determining whether in-person, hybrid, or remote work options are optimal for a knowledge-driven organization. Deloitte approaches remote work from the angle of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — focusing on the impact of remote work on underrepresented groups. Pivoting to talent acquisition, Gartner shares ideas for recruiters as they collaborate with managers to identify opportunities for sourcing talent for different roles, with fewer limitations and restrictions around a geographic location. And in his new HBR article, Marc Mortensen covers the challenges leaders and employees face when trying to reach a consensus on remote work. He offers steps for fostering honest and transparent conversations around remote work. Links to the resources are included.
Last week, I reshared a one-page PDF that integrated four resources for managers to leverage as they identify and address their most critical employee retention risks. As a supplement to that resource, this one-page template provides a way for managers to assess the retention risk of their employees — using 13 retention risk indicators known as ‘pre-quitting behaviors.’ The questions are based on an article by JR Keller, Timothy Gardner, and Brad Winn published in The People + Strategy Journal and are part of a Cues of Turnover Scale (CoTS). A few indicator statements relative to the assessed employee include: 1) Their productivity has decreased more than usual. 2) They have acted less like a team player than usual. 3) They have expressed dissatisfaction with their current job more frequently than usual. I have integrated their 13-statements into this editable template by listing the statement in the left column. 1) Managers can then use the first row of empty columns to enter the names of employees to be assessed. 2) Managers can then respond to each risk statement by putting a checkmark in the box if they believe the employee has shown the behavior over the last 2 to 3 months. Clicking the box will automatically insert a check mark. Upon completion, the visual will show where the most significant risk exists (i.e., more check marks indicate high risk). The insights can inform actions for mitigating employee retention risk in the most critical areas.
I recently reshared a paper by the Talent Strategy Group, Six Steps to Great Talent Reviews. The article addresses ways to overcome challenges to executing effective talent reviews, such as overly complex processes, vague definitions of potential, and no follow-up, to name a few. In response to the article, I have received requests for additional resources on one aspect of talent reviews: high-potential identification. Specifically, many practitioners are reevaluating how they assess potential in their organizations. This one-page PDF includes a playlist of five resources from three thought leaders on the topic: Allan Church, Rob Silzer, and Marc Effron. Sample questions explored in these resources include: 1) What are the indicators of potential? 2) Should we change how we define and measure potential to align with the changing nature of work and the workplace? 3) Are there different types of potential? 4) What are examples of how high-potential employees can go undetected? 5) What are optimal “number of boxes” should be used during a talent review to categorize performance/potential? These resources will help practitioners critically evaluate how they measure potential in their organizations by drawing from the science and research on this topic.
Leaders increasingly recognize the importance of performance management (PM) in driving business performance and stakeholder value. To help answer key questions related to PM, this one-page PDF provides five resources from reputable sources such as Gartner, Deloitte Insights, Harvard Business Review, and The Talent Strategy Group. The questions addressed cover topics such as the current PM practices used by organizations, the integration of employee well-being into PM, triggers for adjusting employee goals, strategies to mitigate bias in PM, and the use of PM to foster collaboration across business units and cross-functional silos. The reference provides insights from each source, such as The Talent Strategy Group's report revealing that 90% of organizations use performance ratings, Gartner's suggestion to incorporate well-being conversations into performance feedback discussions, and the importance of aligning PM practices with the company's goals and objectives. Before digging into these five resources, start with the foundational questions: what is the purpose and objectives of our company’s PM? What is our PM trying to solve? From there, determine the PM practices that enable those goals and outcomes.
III. HR EFFECTIVENESS
15 resources for Chief HR Officers, building an HR strategy, HR budget and efficiency benchmarks, and HR and the board of directors.
As Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) continue to drive personal, team, and organizational effectiveness, I am resharing this one-page PDF that includes 15 resources CHROs (and others) can leverage. I am resharing this resource since I continue to receive multiple requests for this document. I reshared this document on LinkedIn, which resulted in significant engagement. The 15 resources are organized into five categories: 1) AI in HR. Shares ideas on how HR leaders can evaluate and implement AI within HR and the broader organization. 2) Transitioning to a New CHRO Role. Provides resources that can help CHROs speed up their transition into a new head of HR roles. 3) HR Strategy and Operating Models. Offers ideas for capturing aspects of HR strategy and HR operating model. 4) CHROs and the Board of Directors. Shares a few resources on talent and workforce questions Boards are asking, and 5) CHRO Effectiveness. Includes attributes of effective Chief HR Officers and shares ideas on determining the effectiveness of an HR team. The PDF contains links to the source documents. While the 15 resources are categorized under the header of “CHRO Resources,” several topics apply to those not in the CHRO role. Whether you are accessing the document for the first time or have viewed it before, one of the 15 resources will likely capture your interest.
Aligning HR strategy with business goals is crucial for organizational success. However, according to this Gartner report, only 32% of HR leaders surveyed have fully integrated their HR strategic planning process with the business planning process. To improve alignment between HR strategy and business strategy, the report suggests five key steps. 1) Understand your organization's strategy and goals, 2) Identify capabilities and skills for the future, 3) Evaluate current capabilities and skills, 4) Develop HR goals and criteria for success, and 5) Communicate your HR strategy. The report provides recommended actions for each step and includes supporting illustrations and templates. One example to highlight when identifying capabilities and skills for the future (step 2) is to ask questions such as a) From a talent perspective, what must be true for the organization to achieve its objectives? b) What talent issues would both leaders and employees agree must be addressed for the organization to succeed? c) Considering different talent risks (e.g., competitors), what is the degree of impact and likelihood of risk for each talent risk? As HR Leaders go through the steps, pages 8-9 include an editable template to document aspects of the HR strategic plan. As a bonus, here is my 2016 article, Linking Talent Strategy with Business Strategy (LinkedIn version). You can also access a PDF version here.
Chief HR Officers continue to face mounting pressure to cut costs while maintaining value. And while there are various factors to consider when optimizing HR budgets, efficiency, and value, HR benchmarks are one of the factors to consider. This report provides HR benchmarks gathered from around 200 HR organizations across major industries, revenue sizes, organizational scales, and geographic regions. The benchmarks are categorized into three key metrics: (1) HR function spend as a % of revenue, (2) HR function spend per employee served, and (3) HR productivity ratios. Though the benchmarks vary by industry, a few points to note are: the average HR function spends $2,524 per employee annually; the average HR functional spend as % of revenue is 0.74%; the average HR function employs one HR full-time employee (FTE) for every 57 FTE employees. Each section summarizes the metric's importance and how to interpret the results. Since benchmarks have inherent limitations, use them as one of several resources for informing decisions. With this as the backdrop, here is another Gartner reference that helps HR leaders make investment decisions, considering two factors 1) Benefits and Impact and 2) Investment, Time, and Risk. The two dimensions are supported by eight criteria, including strategic relevance, cost savings, and productivity gains. By considering these criteria, HR leaders can make well-informed decisions that maximize cost savings and deliver optimal value.
As organizational investors and stakeholders seek a greater understanding of the workforce and talent topics that enable success, boards of directors are increasingly interested in human capital issues. According to a survey by Russell Reynolds Associates (cited in a Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance article), 259 global board directors rated HR as the top area to which they want increased exposure. Despite the increased focus on talent and workforce topics, this newly released 29-page CIPD report focusing on UK boards reveals that only 2% of boards have an HR director, and just 25% of FTSE 350 companies possess HR expertise on their boards (see Table 2). This lack of HR board representation starkly contrasts with the ubiquitous presence (100%) of Chief Financial Officers or finance directors on boards. The report delves into how HR professionals can increasingly interact with boards in three roles: 1) as senior managers (chief people officers or HR directors) advising the board, 2) as executive directors on the board, and 3) as non-executive directors (NED) on the board. The paper offers suggestions on how HR can add value in each role. Even for those not directly interacting with the board as Chief HR Officers, the paper provides valuable insights into the types of talent and workforce topics in which boards are interested.
2023 JOB CUTS AND LAYOFF TRACKER
Here is my tracker, which includes announcements from a segment of organizations that have announced job cuts and layoffs since the start of 2023.
Recruiters, search firms, and hiring managers can use this resource to identify opportunities for recruiting talent from organizations affected by layoffs.
A few firms that announced job cuts this past month include:
Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB). Will reduce its headcount by 1,000 by 2025—an 11.5% reduction of the workforce.
Cirrus Logic (NASDAQ:CRUS). The fabless semiconductor company says it is laying off 5% of its global workforce. This reduction is due to trouble with a product release and overall market conditions.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). Has reportedly cut 1,000 jobs, which goes beyond the ~10,000 layoffs the company announced earlier this year. The cuts for this round are mostly in sales and customer service.
PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH). The parent company to Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein announced additional plans to cut its headcount by 10%. The company didn’t specify how many more staff it would lay off, but said it expects to incur about $50 million of severance expenses.
Zebra Technologies (NASDAQ: ZBRA). Is cutting 2% to 3% of its jobs through layoffs and buyouts as it looks to trim costs.
Click here or the image below to access all listed announcements from 2023.
CHIEF HR OFFICER HIRE OF JULY
As part of CHROs on the Go — a digital platform subscription that provides the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to stay informed about hires, promotions, and resignations in the Chief Human Resources Officer role— 79 new CHRO announcements have been posted on the platform in July.
The CHRO announcement of July is:
Lockheed Martin (BETHESDA, MARYLAND) [NYSE: LMT]—the global security and aerospace company—announced Christopher J. Wronsky as SVP and Chief HR Officer effective September 1. Most recently, Mr. Wronsky was the VP of Lockheed Martin's Rotary and Mission Systems HR organization, where he oversaw the strategy for 35,000 employees. READ MORE
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Talent Edge Weekly is written by Brian Heger, an internal human resources practitioner with a Fortune 150 organization. Brian holds responsibilities for Strategic Talent and Workforce Planning. You can connect with Brian on Linkedin, Twitter, and brianheger.com