Why talent decisions go bad


Bad talent decisions happen for one of two reasons

You’re in a hurry and don’t have time to get the right data and insights

The consequences of your talent decisions won’t become apparent for months if not years so you take a short cut and go with someone’s opinion or gut feel. Only once a new promotion is in place and their team has started to disengage or their colleagues find them impossible to collaborate with does the organisation pay the price but this is in the future, not today.

Or a combination of both.

You are under pressure from a leader who wants an answer now. This makes it tempting to take the easy route and make the bad decision for short term ease. Avoiding conflict, avoiding the difficult conversations and avoiding saying no as the damage does not show up for ages.

The bad decision then becomes justified by the lure of ticking things off on the to-do-list, giving ourselves the short-term rush of having got something done. We have been helpful.

The role of talent is to ensure the long term health and growth of the organisation. Talent is there to make sure talent decisions are made right, with the right data and the suitable level of foresight. Talent is there to refuse to give into the short-term expediency of just “getting something done”.

An example of this, at its best, is from Laszlo Bock in his book “Work Rules” about Google and their HR processes. He describes the idea of “slow hiring” and how hard Google has worked, as it has grown, to keep disciplined and avoid the lure of quick decisions which lead to organisational regret later.

Talent is like advertising, everyone has an opinion and are not afraid to express it. What makes this even more challenging is that talent is embedded in the day to day activity of managers so they get to implement their ideas if we are not careful.

The role of the talent team is to bring the genuine expertise and disciplines that make sure decisions are made right for the future, not to satisfy an itch today.

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