Talent Management’s 3 Rs – Don’t Miss the Relationship Piece



We all know about Reading, Writing and Arithmetic from our childhoods – the 3 Rs.

In the HR and talent management world, there are another 3 Rs that are critical to the success of an HR organization – Recruitment, Retention and Relationships. As much focus that is placed on the first 2, it seems the relationship piece of the puzzle is often missing. And that’s a shame, because it is vital to the success of the organization, including the recruitment and retention pieces.

It’s the people!

There are jokes – and books written – that go something like this:

  • Management would be easy if it wasn’t for the people
  • This job would be fun if it wasn’t for the people.

You get the idea. Elements that are core to a job hopefully are something that whoever has that job embraces and enjoys.

Without a doubt, management is not for some people. These people don’t want the extra headaches and responsibility of dealing with other employees’ issues. There’s nothing wrong with that. People should do and aspire to what interests and motivates them. But for those that want to be people managers, they better like people, or at least enjoy the challenge associated with the responsibilities.

The same goes for most of those in HR, or at least the ones in charge. Sure, there are lots of processes to deal with, and more and more there are new tools such as analytics to delve into to help HR professionals do their jobs better. But, relationships are critical to talent management, and HR professionals better not lose sight of that fact. Whether we are talking about sourcing, recruitment, retention, engagement, succession planning or learning and development, strong relationships are vital.

The better the relationships we can develop and nurture, the more success we are destined to have. Show me two recruiters, one focused on growing strong relationships and the other focused on processes and systems, and I’ll put my money on the former being the more successful.

As HR and talent management professionals and leaders, we can’t lose sight of the people.

And when we keep people at the forefront of what we think about, we must also think about the relationships. If we aren’t building and growing relationships, we may as well forget about the people, and most of any success we hope to have.

Processes and more too

This is not to say that HR processes, techniques and technology are not important. Indeed, they are critical to talent management success. Efficient and adhered-to policies are the cornerstone of successful HR organizations. Technology can make everything we do run more efficiently. Talent Analytics provides valuable insight into human capital and leads to more-informed business decisions.

At the same time, without nurturing our relationships, efficient processes and sophisticated technology may as well be thrown away.

Relationships and the people part of HR are so important that industry thought leaders have evolved their thinking. Josh Bersin now often talks about People Management rather than Talent Management. Federal human capital guru Jeff Neal says it sometimes seems that Human Resources are the least human of all departments, relaying a joke at a recent panel discussion that it sometimes seems HR thinks “we’re not happy until you are not happy.” He’s kidding, but his point is well taken.

Meghan M. Biro, globally-recognized leader, talent management, career strategist and Forbes contributor, points out there is “a win-win built on trust between employer and employee.”

Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees…HR professionals and managers need to build and grow relationships.

Without that R piece, the rest doesn’t matter much.

So how do you go about building strong relationships?

Part of it is simply being human – with others in your organization, with employees who report to you and – for managers throughout the organization, with their employees. But there’s more to it than that. Sure, if you’re talking about a handful of employees, it’s easy to say “just be human and interact.”

Technology as an enabler

But translate this to a larger organization. More managers, more employees, more direct reports – and the simple act of being human is not enough.

That’s where technology and analytical tools come into play and transform the power of human relationships to a force that can help drive an organization to stronger performance. Not only does technology improve recruitment and retention, it cascades throughout the organization to help all aspects of human capital and talent management.

Sophisticated performance management technology helps foster relationships, improving engagement at all stages of talent management. Recruitment is no longer confined to one-off interactions with candidates – it’s an ongoing string of communication – yes, a relationship between HR and candidates!

The right technology helps move beyond the universally-dreaded annual performance review – and achieves better results. Employee-manager engagement flourishes, or highlights potential trouble while there is still time to take corrective action. Ongoing communication is helped by performance management technology.

Organizations are in better position to implement successful succession plans. Morale improves. Retention rates improve. Learning and development needs are better understood by managers and employees alike.

Putting it all together

Talent Analytics ties it all together, providing insight into relationship and engagement trends, highlighting which relationships are working and which ones may need help.

The human in human resources starts with people. Relationships start with people.

Used properly, technology can help relationships and the human side of organizations.

Together, they’re a winning combination.



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