Probably arising out of my long-time work on electronic HRM, I have always had an interest in the ‘tools of the management trade’. The notion of tool ‘is a generic name for frameworks, concepts, models, or methods’(Jarzabkowski and Kaplan, 2014; 538) and for some considerable time strategic models have been used as a lens to begin and develop an organisation’s strategic journey (Chesley and Wenger, 1999). Well-known strategy tools include Porter’s Five Forces, ‘which codify knowledge about strategy making within structured approaches to strategy analysis, often through some form of propositional or visual representation (March, 2006; Worren et al., 2002)’ (Jarzabkowski and Kaplan, 2014; 538).
Such tools aid the structuring of management strategic thinking (Worren et al., 2002). and they have been called “technologies of rationality” because ‘they offer models of causal structures, provide spaces for collecting data, and establish decision rules for selecting among alternatives (March, 2006) and they support what Simon (1978: 9) calls “procedural rationality” to help actors make rational choices for the firm given the limits of human cognitive powers (Cabantous and Gond, 2011)’ (Jarzabkowski and Kaplan, 2014; 538).
One of the few papers on talent management tools is Career anchors and job/role planning: Tools for career and talent management by Ed Schein and John Van Maanen.
A “career anchor” is a combination of perceived areas of competence, motives, and values relating to professional work choices. The Career Anchors instrument is designed to help clients identify their anchors and to think about how their values relate to their career choices. (Schein and Van Maanen, 2013)
The authors raise a concern that talent management doesn’t really take account the individual’s desires about what they want out of a career, even though organisations are finding it increasingly difficult ‘to define jobs and “work,” wisely allocate people to jobs, manage retention, and develop the talent needed to get the work done effectively’ (2016; 1).
The paper contains information on the concepts of “career anchors” and “job/role planning”, discusses how these can be used in talent development practice to both aid the career of the individual as well as aiding the HR function achieve a better match between the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization. Unlike many papers on talent management, then, the authors do go some way to describing actual practices in getting a balance between the wants/career needs of talent and the strategic requirements of the organisation.
They discuss and explain the associated tools they have developed for career development and job/role planning. The career anchor concept has been developed to produce a Career Anchors self-development exercise, available in a fairly recent book called ‘Career Anchors: The changing nature of work and careers’, 4th ed. New York: Wiley, by Schein, E. H. & Van Maanen, J. (2013).
They don’t supply tools in this paper but they do show ‘how the concepts of “career anchors” and “job/role planning” can help individual career occupants and the human resource function achieve a better match between the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization’ (2016; p1).
I was particularly interested in the actual career anchors and the questions posed to participants about what they would not want to give up in their careers (p2 in the paper):
(1) General managerial competence (GM): in which one would not give up the opportunity to direct the activities of others and climb to higher levels in an organization.
(2) Technical functional competence (TF) in which one would not give up the opportunity to apply and sharpen one’s skills in a particular line of work.
(3) Entrepreneurial creativity (EC) in which one would not give up the opportunity to create an enterprise or organization of one’s own.
(4) Autonomy/independence (AU) in which one would not give up the opportunity to define one’s own work in one’s own way.
(5) Security/stability (SE) in which one would not give up the opportunity to have employment certainty or tenure in a job.
(6) Service/dedication to a cause (SV) in which one would not give up the opportunity to pursue work that one believes contributes something of value in the larger society.
(7) Pure challenge (CH) in which one would not give up the opportunity to work on solutions to seemingly difficult problems, to win out over worthy opponents, or to overcome difficult obstacles.
(8) Lifestyle (LS) in which one would not give up the opportunity to integrate and balance personal and family needs while meeting the requirements of a work career.
The subsequent discussion about how the answers given could be linked to job/role modelling is worth reading the paper for addressing talent management strategy and practice. What is not discussed in more detail, and this is the same in many other talent management papers, is what the implications are for talent development interventions following the identification of individual talent’s career anchors. Food for thought.