Last week I attended a fantastic Talent Acquisition Interest Group meeting offered by the Human Resources Management Association, Chicago (HRMAC). HRMAC's meetings are always top-notch, of course, but this one got me thinking about the links between social media and talent acquisition in some new ways.
Many people are familiar with the ideas behind leveraging public social networks (especially LinkedIn and Twitter) as part of the recruiting and hiring process (which was the focus of the previous meeting of this Interest Group), but those applications tend to be fairly narrow in scope and tactical rather than strategic. Interestingly, this program was not only not focused on social media, I'm not even sure anyone mentioned it directly! But I couldn't help but think about the role 2.0 technologies can play in facilitating an integrated approach to talent management, as well as some of the challenges they can present.
The program was entitled "Talent Acquisition in an Integrated Talent Management Function" and was held at McDonald's Hamburger University (a fascinating place in its own right). The speakers were:
Presenter and Moderator
- Andy Rice, Practice Manager, Integrated Talent Management - The Newman Group, A Futurestep Company
- Ellen Hirsch, Director of Global Talent Acquisition - W. W. Grainger
- Russell E. Nykaza, Senior Director of Human Resources - US Cellular
- Danitra Barnett, US VP, Human Resources Operations - McDonald's Corporation
- Melissa Mounce, Sr. Vice President, Talent Acquisition - PNC Financial Services
Here's an excerpt of the program description:
What does it take to integrate talent acquisition with other processes? What are the advantages? What are the challenges, and how are companies achieving results? Integrated Talent Management strategy expert Andy Rice of The Newman Group, a Futurestep Company, will host a discussion with talent leaders from leading enterprise organizations. They'll cover a practical perspective on the interaction and data flow between talent acquisition and other talent processes, and they'll explore the real challenges and opportunities in making these connections, as experienced by our corporate talent leadership panel.
After a few introductory words from Rich Floersch (McDonald's Global Chief HR Officer) and speaker introductions, Andy began the session by giving a short presentation that addressed:
- The challenges and limitations of traditional talent management approaches
- The need for and potential benefits of an integrated approach
- The challenges in pursuing an integrated talent management approach
- What integrated talent management looks like and a proposed model for taking a "systems" approach to its development
- Specific connections between integrated talent management and recruiting
After Andy's presentation, the panelists shared their perspectives based on the experiences at their companies, then Andy facilitated a Q&A session, including questions from attendees.
As I listened to Andy's presentation and the comments from the panelists, I couldn't help but think about how new digital technologies can enhance various talent management processes and help organizational leaders address both general and specific challenges. All companies that are committed to best practices in talent management can benefit from leveraging social media, of course, but it can be especially valuable to those that want to pursue an integrated approach.
Here are some of the opportunities that occurred to me:
- Breaking down silos in HR (and beyond). One of the issues Andy discussed was the typically siloed approach to human capital management within the HR function, where different sub-functions like performance management, leadership development, workforce planning, and recruiting don't communicate or collaborate as well as they could. These breakdowns can be exacerbated when you factor in geographic dispersion and the additional silos associated with the functional areas where the hiring managers are. New digital technologies can help break down those silos and promote the sharing of both data and knowledge throughout the organization, in addition to providing an improved platform for communication and collaboration, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of talent management from pre-hire to post-termination. See Part 2 of the Social Media Primer for more on the potential benefits of leveraging social media to enhance internal processes.
- Expanding measurement efforts. Russ talked about how US Cellular relies on metrics and predictive staffing models to identify what their future needs will be and the best ways to fill them. Business intelligence (BI) is certainly a critical (and too often underutilized) aspect of human capital management in organizations, one which can be enhanced by social media technologies. A BI 2.0 approach to workforce planning can allow professionals to supplement quantitative analysis with qualitative judgment (through chats and wikis for example), in addition to capitalizing on the expertise of people who may not be directly involved in a central planning effort (e.g., relevant hiring managers, HR staff not based in headquarters) by allowing them to virtually participate in evaluation and decision-making processes.
- Enhancing awareness and understanding of the employment brand. As a BtoB (business-to-business) firm, Ellen talked about the particular challenges Grainger faces in increasing awareness of their employment brand. This can be a challenge for BtoC (business-to-consumer) oriented firms as well, but the lack of name recognition creates bigger hurdles in the BtoB space. Social media can help with this in a number of ways, by enabling a BtoB firm find and engage in various platforms where they might find prospective candidates (e.g., industry and professional associations), as well as by increasing their digital presence and conveying their unique employment value proposition in a host of new ways.
- Addressing time challenges. Several of the speakers talked about time as the enemy of talent management efforts, both in terms of the need to be quickly responsive as a firm's operating environment and/or strategy change, and with respect to planning and preparing for retirements and (un)anticipated turnover, as well as a sudden demand for new hires. Though it can't eliminate those challenges, social media can help make them more manageable. Breaking down silos and increasing collaboration internally, as discussed above, is one way it helps. But it can also help externally, for example by enabling leaders to scan the environment and gather intelligence more broadly, efficiently and faster than ever before. Enhanced digital monitoring can be an excellent weapon in the battle with time.
- Reducing the "buy versus build" dichotomy. The notion of "buy versus build" was introduced by Andy and addressed by several panelists. The traditional distinction between hiring talent from the outside OR developing it from the inside, especially for leadership positions, may not need to be so severe in the Digital Era. Talent communities and alumni networks, for example, are two ways in which organizations can identify and cultivate potential candidates who are not current employees. Through these networks, prospective employers can start to build relationships with possible employees even when there are no current positions available and/or an individual is not currently on the job market (either actively or passively).
- Improving talent scouting. Melissa talked about the challenges PNC faces in filling positions in high-growth areas (both geographically and in terms of function), and how they use talent brokers to help them meet those challenges. I immediately envisioned how social media could help with those efforts, by allowing an employer to create a private social network of talent brokers that would enable them to share confidential information and promote the sharing of best practices and other resources. As discussed earlier, social media can also help organizations get ahead of market intelligence and help manage specific talent pools (e.g., mortgage underwriters for PNC's mortgage processing facility in Pittsburgh). And both the use of private social networks and social media for intelligence gathering can enable hiring managers to become better talent scouts.
- Facilitating new hire orientation. All of the companies represented by the panelists have strong organizational cultures, and facilitating the enculturation process for new hires is critically important. Russ talked about US Cellular's "passport" program, and Danitra shared the metaphorical joke about injecting ketchup in people's veins to help them assimilate into McDonald's culture. As I discuss in Part 2 of the Social Media Primer, there are many ways in which social media can enhance the effectiveness of new hire orientation, even before an individual's first day. In addition to managing "paper"work digitally, 2.0 technologies can also help people learn the ropes through the use of wikis, chat features, and the identification of communities of practice and subject matter experts.
- Managing a contingent workforce. Many organizations leverage contingent workers to help them manage temporary and/or unexpected surges in demand for workers. In addition to blurring the buy versus build distinction and improve talent scouting, the creation and maintenance of private communities of potential human resources can enable an organization to respond to changing staffing demands more efficiently and effectively, in addition to better integrating short-term workers into the organization and its operations.
- Improving human capital planning and placement. After PNC acquired National City Bank, it faced the usual challenges in terms of post-acquisition integration and managing the inevitable displacement of workers as operations were combined and streamlined. PNC won an Excellence in Recruiting award from ERE for "best practices in retention, and as Melissa described their approach I was once again reminded of how social media can enhance human capital management processes, as discussed in Part 2 of the Social Media Primer. And although it didn't directly relate to PNC's experience, I also thought about the need to think more broadly about how increasing use of 2.0 technologies will impact the human capital needs and management functions in organizations, which I discuss in depth in Part 6 of the Social Media Primer.
I don't recall anyone mentioning mentoring, but I think effective mentoring programs can be a critical element in an integrated talent management approach. Marc Tattersall just shared a post with the SMinOrgs Community entitled Mentoring 2.0: Tradition Meets the Web, which is worth a look (and complements ideas I share in Part 2 of the Social Media Primer.
As powerful as social media is, it's certainly not a panacea, and it's not as easy to leverage as some advocates would argue. Here are a few questions and challenges I was reminded of during the program:
- Can everyone do this? The panelists all represented large employers, with fairly large HR staffs and sophisticated HR processes. Given their resources, they are in a much better position than small and medium-sized businesses to not only develop integrated talent management systems, but to leverage social media technologies to enhance their talent management efforts. Many of them also have relatively low turnover, especially among their professional and management ranks, which in many respects makes formal talent management both more necessary and easier. Can small and mid-sized businesses pursue the same best practices? What about rapidly expanding organizations and/or those with high turnover?
- Leadership support is critical. The importance of leadership support for any significant initiative, especially those involving human capital management, cannot be underestimated. No matter how dedicated and determined individual employees and lower-level leaders may be, if they don't get sufficient support from the top of their organizations, they may never realize the full benefit of their investment, and their efforts may even fail. Although the entire Social Media Primer is targeted to organizational leaders, I specifically address their role in Part 5.
- It all begins - and ends - with strategy. Just as critical as leadership support is the need to develop and be guided by strategy. Approaching key initiatives in piecemeal fashion and/or tactically may be expedient in the short term, but it is not in an organization's long-term best interests. In Part 3 of the Social Media Primer I talk about the need to integrate social media into key initiatives as soon as possible, and I provide a model for how to pursue social media strategically in Part 7.
- It takes talent. As noted above, I address the need to think strategically about social media's impact on human capital management in Part 6 of the Social Media Primer. But there's another, potentially more immediate need for talent that has to be considered first: the social media sophistication of HR professionals. To help their organizations navigate the new realities of the Digital Era, not just in terms of talent management but also with respect to their risk management and fiscal management responsibilities, HR professionals need to understand 2.0 technologies and their implications and applications at a deep level. For a host of reasons HR professionals have not yet been able to climb the necessary learning curves as quickly as they need to, but the best organizational leaders should recognize the strategic imperative for them to do so.
As you can see, the program really got my mental juices flowing! It's even motivated me to attend a forthcoming meeting of HRMAC's HR Management Systems Interest Group entitled, "Talent Management Technology Strategy - To Integrate or Not to Integrate, that is the Question." Even though I'll have to get up at 5:30 am to get there(!), I'm really curious to see how that session might also inspire me and contribute to the evolution of my thinking on this subject.
When it comes to social media and integrated talent management, what other opportunities and challenges do you see?