Talent Management

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When Jobs Become Commodities

Most of us view our jobs as specialized or somehow differentiated, but the world of business and management increasingly feels otherwise. For many organizations today, the next big driver of job commoditization is automation driven by smart machines. Simply put, if a job is viewed as a commodity, it won’t be long before it’s automated. The key for workers whose jobs have traditionally seemed safe: Highlight the tasks that require a human touch.

The Fatal Flaw of AI Implementation

  • Column

  • Column
  • Read Time: 5 min 

Many managers are excited about smart machines but are struggling to apply machines’ limited intelligence. Indeed, computers can process data just fine, but to generate competitive advantage from machine learning applications, organizations must upgrade their employees’ skills. Companies will also need to redesign employee accountabilities to empower and motivate them to deploy smart machines when doing so will enhance outcomes.

Entrepreneurship Is a Craft and Here’s Why That’s Important

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Like pottery, entrepreneurship is a craft that blends both science and art. Both pottery and entrepreneurship are accessible to anyone, learnable, built on fundamental concepts — and best learned through on-the-job training. To inspire today’s generation of company builders, entrepreneurship education needs a common language to ground students in fundamental concepts, and it needs to offer apprenticeship opportunities.

I Come to Praise the Annual Performance Conversation, Not Further Bury It

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

As many experts have noted, the annual performance review is rife with faults. It emphasizes what has already happened rather than shaping what is yet to come. It can feel punitive or at least judgmental. It is reductive and, in some cases, forces ridiculous formulaic comparisons between employees. It fails to emphasize the kind of timely feedback that can make a real difference in performance. And yet I have just scheduled year-end performance conversations with each of my direct reports.

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A Data-Driven Approach to Identifying Future Leaders

Many executives believe they are good at identifying leadership talent. However, when asked how they make their decisions, they often cite intuition or “gut” instincts. Social science research, on the other hand, suggests that individuals are often prone to cognitive biases in such decisions. Rather than just relying on the subjective opinions of executives, some companies are using assessment tools to identify high-potential talent.

The Missing Piece in Employee Development

In recent years, organizations have begun to prioritize processes for improving future performance over evaluating employees’ past efforts. Yearly development objectives and annual reviews are being replaced by real-time feedback delivered directly by line managers. Although this shift holds much promise, it risks bumping up against some hard realities — namely, the ability of line managers to help employees develop. In reality, many managers aren’t confident they can change employee behavior.

Rethinking the East Asian Leadership Gap

Many western multinationals have a tough time finding local talent in East Asia — a problem that global companies originating in East Asia don’t seem to face. One problem: The cultural values and expectations of those doing the hiring and those seeking the jobs are at odds.

The Importance of Structured Management Practices

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 4 min 

New research suggests that a particular set of management practices, which the authors call structured management, is tightly linked to performance and success. For instance, consistent hiring, performance review, and incentive practices are as important to productivity as research and development investments, and more than twice as important as IT implementation. The research shows that manufacturing plants using more structured management practices have higher productivity and profitability.

Retaining Today’s Young Managers

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

It was 20 years ago that the movie “Jerry Maguire” created a mantra for our time: “Show me the money!” Today’s young professionals most definitely absorbed that message, but money’s not the only way to stop them from packing. A 2015 article from MIT Sloan Management Review explores strategies for retaining talented young managers who always have an eye on the job market and one foot creeping toward the door.

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The Jobs That Artificial Intelligence Will Create

A new global study finds several new categories of human jobs emerging. These roles are not replacing old ones. They are brand-new positions that complement the tasks performed by AI machines and will require skills and training that have never before been needed.

How Digital Media Will Bring Out Our Best Selves in the Workplace

Tomorrow’s most productive individuals will have more and better digital versions of themselves. The vision: Individuals will be able to utilize customized software and digital tools to improve their performance and productivity, with these digital versions of themselves able to significantly outperform their average self. In this world, AI will stand for “Augmented Introspection” as well as “Artificial Intelligence.”

The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work

It is impossible to block negative emotions from the workplace. Whether provoked by bad decisions, misfortune, poor timing, or employees’ personal problems, no organization is immune from trouble. And trouble agitates bad feelings. However, in many workplaces, negative emotions are brushed aside; in some others, they are taboo. Unfortunately, the author’s research suggests that neither of these strategies is effective. Instead, insight and readiness are key to developing effective responses.

The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives

People are living longer and working longer — but few organizations have come to grips with the opportunities and challenges that greater longevity brings. Across the world, people are becoming more conscious of their lengthening working lives — but frustrated by their working context. The authors’ research suggests that while people know they will have to restructure their lives and careers, corporations are unprepared.

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The Heavy Toll of ‘Always On’ Technology

Our electronic devices and expectations for immediate responses to communications are degrading our attention, with implications not just for productivity but also for mental health and stress levels in the workplace. That’s according to the 2016 book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World. In an interview, coauthor Larry D. Rosen says that research now shows that “the impact from so many interruptions on our mental and emotional functioning is vast, and it needs to be addressed.”

Your Digital Talent Needs May Not Be What You Think They Are

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

In the quest for digital talent, many employers are falling prey to common misconceptions. One assumption is that advanced technical skills are the most valuable asset, but “soft” skills such as communication and collaboration are just as (if not more) important. And many of the skills, technical or otherwise, that companies seek may be better obtained in current staff by fostering collaborative learning — which may also improve employee retention.

Winning the Digital War for Talent

Competition for digitally savvy talent has never been higher, but companies’ methods for acquiring and keeping the skilled employees they need are outmoded. Whether they want to develop capabilities in employees or tap on-demand talent markets — or some mix of both — human resources directors need to experiment with new talent management models.

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