Do you have a Talent Management Strategy or a Personnel Department?

The Human Resources function has been on quite a journey the last 30+ years. It has had to grow and evolve to keep pace with the dramatic shifts in the business world moving from a manufacturing-focused economy to an information and services-driven economy. Different companies are at different places in this evolution for their HR departments.

For example, does your organization think about people as “talent” at all? Or are they just considered expenses behind the P&L?

Here are a couple of indicators  to help you determine if your organization and your HR function are progressing on that 21st century journey, or if you are still stuck back in the days of the Personnel Department.

Performance Reviews

Let’s be clear – no one actually enjoys the performance management process. However performance reviews can be approached as a chore, or as an opportunity. Are these viewed as somewhat akin to torture and people just check the box to get them done to make HR happy? Worse yet, do leaders expect HR to write the reviews for them because they are too busy to take the time to complete the reviews themselves? It is obvious to employees when this happens and it sends the signal that “my career and my contribution are not important to my boss.”

Or do leaders take the time to invest in the opportunity to truly coach and develop their people, and recognize them for their hard work from the previous year? This is equally obvious to employees when it happens and it sends the message that “I matter as a person to my boss and he/she values my individual contribution to our team and the company.” As an employee yourself, which type of review do you prefer to receive?


What is the talent strategy into which a particular new hire fits? How do you articulate the specific reason(s) why you need to go external for a given hire instead of having the bench strength in house to fill the position? Or is the role designated as entry-level for the pipeline to build bench for your department, perhaps? Have the business leaders partnered with Talent Acquisition and Talent Management to think through things to this level of detail?

When you cannot explain why you go external at times compared to when you promote or make moves from within, employees get very confused. The grapevine runs rampant. Your high performers quickly get de-motivated. Not to mention the new hires brought in can receive a rather frosty reception.

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When hiring is treated as purely a transactional exercise, as opposed to the talent acquisition component of your overall talent strategy to support your business goals, HR functions as an order taker, like a server in a restaurant. (What kind of dressing did you want on that salad?)


The most effective HR Business Partners are part of the leadership team which help run the business for a given region / geography / division. They solve business problems instead of focusing on “just” HR problems or HR transactions. They develop the talent strategy to deliver on business goals.

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This means they work as co-pilots with the business leaders for their part of the business.

Betsy Winkler is Partner at People Results. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1 or on email at Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.