Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #216

Performance management, skills-based hiring, becoming a skills-based organization, talent management and the Board, and the impact of AI on jobs.


Happy New Year, and welcome to the first issue of Talent Edge Weekly in 2024! A warm welcome to the 549 NEW readers who subscribed to the newsletter this past week!

A special shout-out to Jim Viola, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer at Claire’s, for referring new subscribers to Talent Edge Weekly. Thank you, Jim, for your support of this newsletter!

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Here’s a glance at this week’s content. A deep dive is in the section that follows.

Also, check out the job cuts tracker & Chief HR Officer hire of the week.

Let’s dive in. ⬇️



One of the primary goals of performance management (PM) is to provide unbiased and objective performance feedback and evaluations. Nonetheless, PM remains imperfect and vulnerable to bias. To address biases that could impact managers’ accurate assessment of their direct reports' performance, many organizations conduct PM calibration meetings. During these sessions, managers and leaders discuss employee performance using formal ratings or similar criteria aligned with established standards. However, the effectiveness of these meetings varies depending on their structure and management. Research referenced in this new HBR article shows that while PM calibration discussions help reduce specific biases, they can inadvertently introduce others into the evaluation process. One issue highlighted is how unstructured meetings might result in time-based biases, where certain groups receive extensive discussion time while others don't due to time constraints. The article proposes strategies to mitigate biases during these sessions. For another resource on this topic, check out Marc Effron’s article, How to Crush Bias in Performance Management. Marc provides valuable insights into enhancing the effectiveness of PM calibration sessions and suggests tactics for minimizing biases in other parts of the PM process, which really starts with effective goal setting (e.g., using a process to ensure that goals are set at a consistent level of challenge within a function or group.)


This article emphasizes the shift many organizations are making toward skills-based hiring. It highlights the advantages of this approach for broadening the talent pool to include self-taught individuals and those who gained their skills through experience rather than solely through academic qualifications. While the article provides many noteworthy trends in skills-based hiring (such as the US leading this shift while other countries like Singapore still heavily emphasize degrees), it also offers examples of how organizations can make this transition. For instance, Goldman Sachs recently adopted a 'skillset recruiting' approach, where candidates don’t apply for specific jobs but instead apply to particular skill areas. Through skills testing on the company’s new online platform, relevant job recommendations are made to candidates based on their skills. The authors also mention how organizations can efficiently evaluate candidate skills by considering proxies like micro-credentials, online course completions, recommendations, or project results. Additionally, it highlights how companies are using skills to match internal talent to opportunities such as jobs, projects, and assignments through Internal Talent Marketplaces (ITMs). Regarding ITMs, I'm resharing a recent article, How to Start Smart With a Talent Marketplace, that delves into Booz Allen’s initial year experience in launching an ITM, shedding light on the hurdles faced, strategies applied, and key lessons learned.


There's a prevalent narrative about becoming a skills-driven organization (SDO)—where skills rather than jobs serve as the basis for an organization’s talent practices, such as hiring and workforce planning. However, as highlighted in this 8-page paper, the transition to SDO is intricate, demanding a thorough readiness assessment before initiation. A crucial step in this shift is articulating the rationale for becoming an SDO. HR practitioners play a pivotal role in helping leaders understand the answers to fundamental questions, such as: Why invest effort in transitioning to a skills-based approach? How does this shift provide incremental value to organizational stakeholders? What are the practical consequences if this change isn't made? The paper shares an example of how Ericsson implemented its journey to becoming an SDO, notably beginning with a compelling case for change and utilizing simplified language to communicate advantages. Figure 1 illustrates how Ericsson made the case for change by drawing from trends and internal pain points. However, as highlighted, for certain organizations, the time, effort, and costs associated with becoming an SDO might outweigh the potential benefits. For instance, while SDOs aim to enhance organizational agility, this benefit might not be a priority for companies in a stable competitive environment. Page 2 presents four pivotal questions to aid organizations in determining if a skill-based approach is right for them. As a bonus, I am resharing 10 Q&As I curated from different sources that address questions on skills-based organizations.


The board of directors (BofD) in many organizations has shown an increased interest in talent and workforce matters in recent years. This heightened attention stems from multiple factors, including investors' growing emphasis on talent management as a competitive edge. Whether it involves understanding the impact of AI in the workplace, interpreting the implications of remote work policy on employee retention, or complying with SEC human capital disclosure requirements, various aspects of talent management hold higher stakes and risks, demanding the BofD guidance. This new article offers insights on how boards can enhance their oversight of talent management. Among the many resources is Appendix B, which includes 38 questions that BofD can pose to HR leaders concerning various facets of talent, such as succession planning, diversity, equity, inclusion, employee recruitment, retention, and workforce metrics. For example, one question related to recruitment is: What changes has the company made to expand its employee pipeline — for example, hiring nontraditional candidates? Even for organizations not governed by a BofD, these questions serve as a valuable resource for HR leaders to articulate their organization’s talent strategy to various stakeholders.


This new 17-page white paper is a continuation of the World Economic Forum’s September 2023 report, Jobs of Tomorrow: Large Language Models and Jobs. The September report shared insights into AI's direct impact on various jobs and work tasks using a four-component framework: 1) High potential for automation: Going forward, the task will be performed by AI, not humans. 2) High potential for augmentation: Humans will continue to perform the task, and AI will increase human productivity. 3) Low potential for either automation or augmentation: Humans will continue to perform the task with no significant impact from AI. 4) Unaffected. Non-AI tasks, such as those that emphasize physical movement (e.g., loading products for transport). The new report, which was published in December 2023, functions as a toolkit for businesses, offering guidance on strategies to help employees adapt and develop alongside AI technologies. As a supplement to these two reports, the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report explores how jobs and skills will evolve over the next five years. One finding from this report is that employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years. All three resources offer organizations valuable insights for evaluating the impact of AI on the future of work.

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Here is a working draft of the one-page cheat sheet I create each year on talent and workforce trends reported by various sources for the new year. Includes 2024 priorities and trends identified by Gartner, McLean & Company, i4cp, and Glassdoor Economic Research. You can click the company logo on the PDF to access the source report or learn how to obtain it.


Partial view of tracker on brianheger.com

Check out my tracker of announcements from a segment of organizations that have conducted job cuts and layoffs since the start of 2023.

A few firms announcing recent job cuts include:

  • Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NTLA). The biotech company will lay off 15% of its total workforce to streamline operations. As part of these layoffs, the company will pause certain exploratory research-stage programs.

  • Paytm (NSE: PAYTM). The multinational financial technology company has announced the termination of more than 1,000 employees across various departments as part of a broader cost-cutting strategy.

  • Xerox (NASDAQ: XRX). Announced plans to reduce its workforce by 15% as part of a strategic initiative to introduce a new organizational structure and operating model. The workforce reduction is expected to impact around 3,075 employees.

Click here to access all listed announcements.


Bristol Myers Squibb (LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY) [NYSE: BMY] —a global biopharmaceutical company—announced the promotion of Amanda Poole to EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer. Poole assumes this role from Ann Powell, who is leaving the organization after serving as its Chief HR Officer for 10 years. Amanda brings deep industry experience from her almost 20 years at BMS through international and domestic assignments and HR leadership roles for business functions. She most recently served as the company’s SVP of People Strategy, Solutions, and Services.

Amanda Poole

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Here is my one-page playlist of 5 resources for enabling employee wellbeing in an organization. The resources on the playlist have clickable links to the source documents.


Did you miss the “Best of December” issue of Talent Edge Weekly? If so, check out issue #215, which includes 13 of the most popular resources from December. 


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Talent Edge Weekly is a free weekly newsletter that brings together the best talent and strategic human resources insights from various sources. It is published every Sunday at 6 PM EST.

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