On tools for career and talent management: Career anchors and job/role planning:

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).

Anchor your career
Career anchors… a suitable tool for talent management?

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).

Source: Career anchors and job/role planning: Tools for career and talent management

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.

Employee perceptions of the talent management message…

I am currently doing a bit of a ‘deep dive’ into the academic literature on talent management and finding quite a bit of interesting material.  The paper by Bish et al from the latest American Academy of Management is one such paper:

Bish, Adelle & Jorgensen, Frances (2016) Employee perceptions of the talent management message: Case analyses in Danish SMEs. In 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, 5-9 August 2016, Anaheim, CA.

Source: Employee perceptions of the talent management message: Case analyses in Danish SMEs | QUT ePrints

In their study they consider employees’ perceptions of their organizations’ talent management message in their qualitative, multiple case study of nine SMEs in Denmark, ’employees’ perceptions of their organizations’ talent management message prior to and after being employed and how these before and after perceptions influence their current attitudes and behaviors’. Their findings suggest that

‘while externally oriented talent management messages in SMEs may mimic those of large organizations, internal messages may be far less explicit and formalized in SMEs. Further, there appeared to be a high level of incongruence between internal and external talent management messages in these SMEs. Significantly, the perceived impact of gaps between the external and internal talent management messages on employees’ attitudes and behaviors seemed however to be mitigated by value alignment.’

It is nice to see papers on talent management which consider TM from a differently sized organisational point of view – here it is SMEs.  I see this not only adding to talent management literature per se but also to employer branding literature, a very interesting field which links to talent identity as well as talent management.

The UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) define employer branding as:

‘‘…a set of attributes and qualities, often intangible, that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture’  (CIPD, accessed 6 September, 2016).

(and they are offering a free employer brand Factsheet). 


The myriad of elements that make up your personal talent management

I have a colleague who is doing a doctorate study of managers managing autistic talent. I send her web links and academic references occasionally as I come across them. I found this tale from a young guy particularly impressive about the lived, meaningful experience of this condition. http://www.vox.com/2016/1/29/10860714/autism-diagnosis-adult?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits

It made me think of how talent management practice and writing takes little account of those aspects of the individuals which don’t match the common competency frameworks many organisations work to.

It also reminds me how the telling of personal stories is so powerful in enabling people to make sense of themselves and to provide learning and enlightenment for others.




Talent tale from the (tennis) field


What talent Martina Navratilova had and probably still has.

I was talking to a woman in Mullumbimby the other day who has had an interesting life. She had been a private school girl with many privileges, including being able to play tennis competitively. She went on with her life and as she got older she had fewer opportunities to play tennis, other than having a knock-about (a playful time). One day, at a house party of a friend who just happened to have a tennis court, she was invited to play by another house guest. On the tennis court it was soon very clear that the other woman had played tennis at a very high level and was getting into the ‘zone’ pretty quickly. Ann felt the talent she had developed over her younger years revitalise. She found strength and power she thought she had lost. Her strategic thinking skills switched on as though it was yesteryear. Other guests began to gather around. They watched in awe as the two mature women powered around the court.

As she told me her story, Ann was right there again. The glory of her victory was remembered through the telling. I listened, marvelled with her and complemented her. Reflecting on her story afterwards gave me hope that, failing illness or debility, we could all continue to feel such power by drawing on those talents we had previously honed over the years.  My (sad) feeling is that very few of us identify what talents we have and most of us fail to capitalise on those talents, particularly as we get older.

Thanks for being a role model to us, Ann.

Gamification in talent management …a suitable case for treatment…?

As information becomes available about the way gamification is bring used for managing organisational talent, there are some cases where I do wonder if they achieve the objectives set for them.

This blog provides several examples. Sap uses gamification to educate its employees on sustainability; Unilever applies them to training; Hays deploys them to hire recruiters and the Khan Academy uses it for online education.

The article is called ‘Winning the talent game’…
Make me wonder, to what extent is talent management a game playing with people’s lives? There are many ethical issues to ponder here.

One day you’re top talent, the next day…you need help..is coaching helpful?

Many moons ago I went to work in a UK Job centre sitting at a desk in a sort of showroom of presentation boards with cards showing brief details of jobs and giving a reference number. The jobseeker would write down the number and come to a desk where I or my colleagues would interview them then ring the employer for an interview if there was a match. It often struck me how older workers would arrive in their first week of unemployment smartly dressed and raring to go. But as the weeks progressed, their dress, demeanour and spirit declined. Then they would stop coming and I would wonder what had happened to them. I would have a vague sense of guilt that I had not helped them. Seeing up to 50 people a day on what was colloquially known as ‘the front line’ didn’t make it easy to spend the time that someone in that position needed to support them and help them help themselves.

Today I saw an article about such people at management level.

Coaching to help the derailled..

It’s entitled ‘Coaching unemployed managers and professionals through the trauma of unemployment: Derailed or undaunted?’ By David E Gray of University of Greenwich, Yiannis Gabriel of University of Bath (always worth a read) and Harshita Goregaokar, University of Surrey, all UK.

Also check out Suzanne Ross’ work on derailed talent.

Lessons from an ad man

I have Steve Boese’s blog post delivered every week and he makes some great comments about talent management, and here he talks about that well-known leader of the North American advertising agency, David Ogilvy, and what fourteen years of running his ad agency taught Ogilvy about what ….the ‘top man’ in the organization should consider his primary responsibility:
[Ogilvy said] ‘After fourteen years of it, I have come to the conclusion that the top man has one principle responsibility: to provide an atmosphere where creative mavericks can do useful work.’

Steve comments:

‘Like much of the insights in ‘Confessions’, Ogilvy doesn’t really knock you out with how incredibly profound or ground-breaking his thinking on management was. But if you pause to consider that he was postulating about this idea of management as an enabler of creative accomplishment back in the early 60s then the observation seems a bit more meaningful.

Face it, 50 years later it is pretty easy to find any number of management and leadership gurus and though leaders advising the very same thing. Find the best, most creative and talented minds. Carefully construct an atmosphere where they can and will be motivated to work on what drives them. And finally, be brave and smart enough to stay (enough) out of their way.

A simple recipe for success, no?

Ogilvy had it figured out in 1960. How long do you think it will take the rest of us to catch on?’
..obviously, creatives are the main talent pool in the advertising industry but it’s a good point to reflect on for other industries.