What Are Government’s Biggest Talent Management ‘Sins’?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Terrence Hill 8 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #156734

    Mark Sullivan

    In Jon Bartos’ recent article “The 10 Deadly Sins of Talent Management that Can Quickly Bring Your Organization Into Mediocrity” he identifies several common mistakes that keep organizations from reaching their potential and kill the chance of it ever joining the list of most-admired employers:

    1. Fail to Make a Team of “A” players a Priority
    2. Pay Below Market Value for Talent
    3. Maintain a Long, Arduous Hiring Process
    4. Hire Based on Interviewing Skills
    5. Lack of Defined Career Paths
    6. No Outside Agencies — Job Boards Only or Feeding Frenzy
    7. Stop Interviewing When Empty Seats Are Filled
    8. Tolerate Low Performers
    9. Lack of Training and Development
    10. Absence of a Performance Management System

    Which ‘sins’ do you think need to be addressed first in government?

    Full article at: http://www.ere.net/2012/03/20/the-10-deadly-sins-of-talent-management-that-can-quickly-bring-your-organization-into-mediocrity/

  • #156758

    Terrence Hill

    The last shall be first! Without a great performance management system (and I’m not talking about the old/current once or twice a year paper exercise), the rest cannot happen.

  • #156756

    James Lewis

    It is important to define how performance will be measured (specific, valuable metrics rather than nebulous or activity driven ones), and then measure against these criteria.

    Workforce motivation can be driven through measurement, and right now the measurement just doesn’t value things that employees do that actually contribute to mission or even project level success (for the most part)

  • #156754

    Mark Hammer

    I’m actually not so sure that all those items on the list really ARE aspects of “talent management”, as much as aspects of overall performance management or recruitment and selection systems.

    Personally, when I think “talent management”, I think about keeping tabs on whether the right people within the organization are matched up with the right roles and tasks, and whether there might be some as-yet unmatched combinations of staff that could be more productively paired up. I honestly don’t know what “A” players are within government, never having actually seen “the best and the brightest” in my life (and I’ve chatted with Nobel Prize winners and folks who changed the world as we know it). I’ve seen some competent people, some folks I find good to work with because of how they challenge, some folks with a couple of good ideas once in a while, and some folks who are “good soldiers” that keep plugging away in earnest. And, having worked in employment test development, I can say with confidence that selection tools, much like intelligence tests, are oriented towards identifying “good enough” and “safe bet” rather than differentiating degrees of “best-ness” or brilliance.

    Having studied and thought long and hard about skill acquisition and the cognitive and experiential basis of expertise, I’m disinclined to believe in the concept of talent, but setting my personal obstinacy aside, and using “talent” as shorthand for distinctive skill, fluidity, and knowledge in an area, do we actually know what “talent” is within government?

    It seems to me we’re not especially good at “talent management” because the folks making the decisions about who ought to go where don’t necessarily know what it is they want or need at the moment, and particularly down the road. “Talent” is always relative to one’s goals, and you need to know what those are first to know what the needed or valued talents are. The folks tasked with talent management are often too deep in the weeds to even see the trees, let alone the forest. That’s not to say that the private sector always has a firmer grasp on its goals that government does. I’m sure they have their out-of-left-field moments equivalent to sudden political directives or emergencies, too. But in general I suspect they are less inclined to say “Well let’s wait and see how this pans out”, which puts them in a better position to say “WE need THIS here” and take steps to manage it.

  • #156752

    Lisa Coates

    Absence of a Performance Management System, Lackof Training and Development & Pay Below Market Value for Talent

  • #156750


    Failure to listen to employees with expertise in a given area.

  • #156748

    Corey McCarren

    I like your point about underpaying talent. It encourages them to leave the organization. Also, not giving room for advancement. Employees are an investment and hiring is costly, it doesn’t make sense to me to not try and advance employees.

  • #156746


  • #156744

    Government is notorious for #3. I’d focus there and on performance management systems. I think #5 (career paths) gets fixed with #10 (PMS).

  • #156742

    Joe Flood

    3. Maintain a Long, Arduous Hiring Process – this is the core sin. A long arduous hiring process makes it difficult to get new talent into government. And it discourages whole segments of the population (like mid-career professionals) from even applying, feeling that the process is lengthy, complex and rigged against them. Worse, it reinforces negative stereotypes about government being bureaucratic and old-fashioned.

  • #156740

    Marian Henderson

    In my state agency I see #3 and #8 as needing to be addressed. Although we don’t tolerate low performers for long, it’s difficult and time consuming to get permanent employees terminated for any reason other than criminal activity.

  • #156738

    Tammy Lang

    I think government is notorius for “Make a Team of “A” players a Priority”, people are selected as a part of this team, regardless of their ability to demonstrate skills… Staff are prioritized for advancement because they can suck up to the manager/supervisor. This if anything results in disengagement which is one of the largest sin of Talent Management. If you cannot engage staff who are talented, you will never have talent to manage.

  • #156736

    William Lim

    2 (below market pay) and 3 (long hiring process) are by far the biggest deterrents to attracting and retaining talent, followed by 5 (lack of career tracks).

    I am not certain how applicable 6 is to government, since EEO and merit hiring rules often dictate an open “job board” type process, at least for career civil servants. Political appointees are another story of course.

    I am also not sure about 1 (the “A” team). Sure, high performance should be rewarded, but we’ve all seen Glengarry Glen Ross. Without a pipeline to develop “B” players into “A” players, a visible clique of “A” players cozying up with management is guaranteed to generate workplace grievances from those excluded, and lead to long-term retention problems.

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