Explore the future of talent management

Last month, I had the privilege of speaking at Worldz – an annual gathering of thousands of global leaders in marketing, culture and business – with a friend and client partner, who is a talented and learning leader with an incredible experience and great vision of how leaders should inspire and empower every company’s greatest asset: their people.

The experience was profound thanks to the nearly 100 talented people who joined us for the session. I would like to share what we have learned with a wider audience.

Our hypothesis is simple but powerful: our reliance on traditional job functions, such as HR or finance, to structure businesses will decline significantly over the next decade, replaced by a greater focus on skills and “superpowers” – those innate and natural behaviors of each of them. we have grown and evolved throughout our lives. We wanted to prove that there is little correlation between function and skills in today’s companies. The results were exciting and provided insight into a new talent management model.

What makes each of us great?

If you had to answer the question “What are you really good at?” you are unlikely to answer with your job title. We asked each audience member to turn to a stranger next to them and identify each person’s superpowers. The room ignited with deep conversation and laughter. We learned within minutes that we had superheroes among us. Super Listeners and Super Optimists are two examples. Nothing like professional functions, but just like valuable skills for the projects we all work on.

There is also something deeper to be learned from this exercise. In five minutes of dialogue with a stranger, each person got to know themselves more deeply than many employers know their long-time employees. Because as leaders, we just don’t ask those kinds of questions.

We know nothing of our greatest asset

Traditional employers seek to know only basic information about their employees and little or nothing about what motivates them or the unique skills they possess that could steer the brand, company and culture in new directions.

It’s the opposite in consumer marketing. The best marketers seek to know as much as possible about who their audience is, how they live and what makes them unique in order to find a meaningful place in their universe for our brands. We passionately believe that HR and Marketing are in fact sister disciplines. Each should be centered around guiding everything the company does around a valuable audience. The difference is simply in the identity of these people. For HR, it’s employees – which, logically, also means that the label “Human Resources” is terribly obsolete. Maybe “Humanity” is a better functional name?

Focusing on skills changes everything

Take a moment to imagine a future where we no longer organize people by function or staff initiatives with balanced cross-functional teams, but instead match the skills and superpowers of our glorious talent pool with project needs. It changes everything we know about how people work in companies.

In this new dynamic, we would begin to value individual passions more than functional expertise or experience. We would form fluid project teams instead of a rigid discipline structure. Our employees would experience multiple project tours instead of planned career changes. After-action reviews would give way to real-time monitoring and course improvements. Annual individual incentives would be replaced with team milestone awards.

A Live Experience: What We Learned From Our Worldz Audience

With nearly 100 people and less than 30 minutes, we had to go fast. Here is what happened :

Step 1: Find your function.

We started by asking everyone to transition to the traditional business function that best describes their current role:

• HR: learning, talent management, internal communications

• Marketing: advertising, brand management, public relations, sales, customer service

• Operations: leadership, administration, general management, project management

• IT: data, technology, innovation

• Product: Design, R&D, Production

• Finance: Accounting, Risk Management, Business Analytics

Step 2: What is your superpower?

We presented six major groups of “superpowers” and asked each person to identify themselves in relation to their closest match:

• Guide: Developing culture, networking, collaboration and teamwork, influencing, coaching

• Storyteller: casting vision, engaging communication, adaptability, passion, provocation

• Driver: driving growth, leading teams and managing people, selling solutions

• Builder: Organization, planning, design thinking, attention to detail, project management

• Creator: Creativity, creation of ideas and concepts, problem solving, innovation, architecture of new solutions

• Thinker: Agility, quantitative skills, business acumen, data analysis, strategic thinking, critical analysis

Step #3: Does your superpower fit your role?

More than half of the audience was “out of position” based on traditional models of matching functions to skills. Highlights included:

• 30% of marketers place themselves in the “guides” group (more than the expected correspondence with “storytellers”)

• Nearly 50% of IT and product experts identify themselves as “storytellers” (3x more than “creators” or “builders”)

• 40% of finance and operations employees see themselves as “creators”

• As expected, 70% of HR practitioners found “guide” as the best solution; 20% see themselves as “builders”

Take away key

There are many lessons to be learned from this exploration. The conversations that followed were fascinating, deep and varied and, most pleasantly, engaged everyone from startup founders to HR managers at large corporations. There’s one thing I want you to take away: the knowledge that you can do this tomorrow. The skills you need to solve your next business problem probably exist in the people sitting next to you right now.

Here is your challenge. Chances are your current project teams are optimized by function, not skill. Imagine what would happen if you assembled your next project team solely by skills and superpowers. What would that look like? Do you have the courage to try? And if a pilot isn’t physically possible, ask your staff what their superpower is – you might be amazed at where the answers will take you.

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