In the age of automation and machine learning, insurance leaders should not overlook the most important element to long-term success: their people. No matter the technology or processes you implement, you still need talent to execute and make decisions.
That’s where talent excellence comes in. It is not about spending more money; it is about maximizing your return. Organizations that implement integrated best practices in talent excellence can report up to 61 percent higher revenue than their competitors. Here we’ll briefly review four areas where you might better align your talent practices to begin creating better return on your talent.
Talent engagement means more than keeping employees happy. Rather, it means proactively managing three factors:
- Turnover. Rather than trying to keep everyone, focus on managing performance and allowing for healthy (voluntary, desirable) turnover.
- Employee satisfaction. Employees (especially millennials) want an interesting job, fair compensation, opportunities to advance and pride in the organization. The best managers listen to employees and include them in shaping the work in ways that balance satisfaction and results.
- Productivity through change. Great organizations build skills that help the company manage change like a project and help employees accept, adjust and absorb an environment of constant change (change agility).
Investing in talent creates value because people work harder for and stay longer with companies that show genuine interest in their futures. The two quickest ways to improve talent development are aligning short-term, reactionary needs with long-term development plans and developing a talent bench.
The best long-term development plans are grounded in specific and targeted competencies. The best competency models:
- Are clearly aligned with the unique mission of the company.
- Are explicitly defined with specific and observable behavioral statements.
- Differentiate great performance from adequate performance.
Effective development plans contain SMART goals linked to business outcomes, focus on one or two key changes, provide for skill-building activities and are rigorously and proactively reviewed as often as performance results.
Creating a talent bench starts with a talent pipeline. This means identifying key roles and the top talent you are preparing for those roles. Use the competency model to assess roles and talent to identify prioritized capability gaps. Build development plans based on those capability gaps. Manage this process at the highest organizational levels to ensure quality and progress
You manage things (like performance) and you lead people. People who believe in their leaders do not leave and deliver better results. Leaders who drive the best employee performance share certain best practices, including:
- Using SMART goals and development plans.
- Providing consistent feedback loops (especially for millennials): frequent, focused, honest, balanced and timely feedback.
- Fair assessments focused on performance, not politics.
- Addressing poor performance promptly and directly, while weeding out the bottom 10 percent.
Attracting, selecting and hiring new talent is far more expensive than people realize; on average, a failed new hire can cost $93,000. Improving talent acquisition can start with two simple steps: Writing effective job descriptions and interviewing well.
Effective job descriptions discuss how the job scope and activities contribute to the company’s performance. They also define objectives that detail what great results look and feel like, as well as specific and observable competencies that differentiate success in the role. During the writing process, involve people who are currently doing the job well.
To improve interviews:
- Focus on gathering data about past performance and results that align with the job description. Use the job description as the basis for interview questions.
- Talk less and listen more. Ask open-ended questions, and do not make decisions during the interview.
- Look for a commitment to high performance – consistent examples of defining, owning and delivering high-quality results with others.
- Show your passion about why you are doing what you are doing.
Using the principles of talent excellence, you can develop better aligned talent management strategies for your business that will help increase productivity, efficiency and contribute positively to the bottom line. In future columns, we will explore each of the integrated talent management models noted above.
Dr. Kirk D. Fleming, MBA, is the Assistant Vice President of Global Talent Development at ReSource Pro. He has more than 20 years of experience in learning and development across a variety of industries. Since 2010, he has led ReSource Pro’s Learning & Development department where he and his team have been recognized with several international and national awards for excellence. Dr. Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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