Friday, April 09, 2010

7 Talent Management Practices to Help You Survive a Downturn

Guest Post by Sean Conrad

To weather an economic downturn, companies need to focus on their core business and strengths, reduce unnecessary costs and be more efficient. Here are 7 talent management practices every company should implement to get the most out of their workforce.

1. Align Goals and Track Everyone's Progress

You need to make sure that every employee's goals are aligned with organizational goals. You also need to regularly monitor progress on goals so you can take corrective action as required. Finally, you need to be able to quickly and effectively communicate any change in focus, priorities or tactics. Your talent management system should allow you to quickly communicate changes that impact organizational goals to everyone who has a linked individual goal.

2. Conduct Regular Employee Reviews to Keep Employee Performance On Track

Employee performance reviews give employees an opportunity to talk with their manager about what they are doing well, areas for improvement, skill gaps, career plans, goals, competencies, development needs and more. It's one of the most effective ways to keep performance on track.

They also help managers and HR identify low performers and take action to improve their performance, so the company can get the most out of all its resources.

Finally, employee reviews make it easier for managers and HR to make critical decisions about workforce restructuring and right-sizing if/when needed. By providing a history of employee performance they allow managers and HR to accurately identify high and low performers and employees with critical knowledge/experience/skills.

3. Provide Ongoing Feedback to Maximize Performance

Ongoing feedback helps everyone maximize their performance. It allows for quick corrective action, so managers and employees can address any issues while they are still small. To formalize this process, you might want to do quarterly or semi-annual reviews instead of just annual ones.

4. Invest in Performance-Based Development

Make sure you're getting value from your investment in employee development. Start from your employees' performance appraisals and use them to identify skill gaps, so you can be sure you're offering the right, targeted learning activities. You should also consider which competencies are key to your organization's success and target training to build strength in these. Finally, you should always measure the change in employee performance ratings that results from a learning intervention to make sure your training is effective.

5. Identify and Reward High Performing Employees

Knowing who your high performing and high potential employees are is always critical. While you may not be able to reward them with salary increases, bonuses or other monetary rewards during an economic downturn, you can still demonstrate your organizational commitment to them and recognize their contributions through other means. These are the employees you can't afford to loose; make sure you're acknowledging their performance and potential.

6. Have a Succession Plan

Your organization needs to be prepared to replace people in critical roles at all times. It's even more vital in a downturn, when a vacant leadership position or shortage of a critical skill could cripple your organization. A talent pool based succession plan helps your organization to identify the critical skills and competencies it needs to succeed over the long term, not just the leadership roles it may need to fill. It then helps you identify and groom your high-performing and high-potential employees to fill these needs when they arise.

7. Be as Efficient as Possible

In an economic downturn, no organization can afford inefficient processes. Systems that automate your talent management processes make these processes more efficient and cost effective. Many companies realize a return on their investment in talent management software in the very first year – often enough to more than cover the cost of the new system. They also usually see an increase the quality and value of their processes, typically resulting in higher employee satisfaction and engagement.

Sean Conrad is a Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of talent management solutions. He can be reached at

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Amit said...

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nisha said...

You got so many points here, that's why i love reading your blog. Thank you so much!

John Papers said...

Can you write more about 7 Talent Management Practices to Help You Survive a Downturn..? I am making a list of The 7 Talent Management Practices to Help You Survive a Downturn..

Education said...

Really nice and helpful information. I like it. Thank you for sharing.

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