Best HR Ideas: Talent Management

This article is part of HRE's Best HR Ideas for 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
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Human Resources Strategic Services

BAE Systems Inc., McLean, Va.

HR service centers are nothing new. They've long been centralizing and coordinating specific HR functions to facilitate more stratregic HR leadership. But never before have we seen one created, not for those specific -- more administrative -- HR functions, but for the sole purpose of providing and delivering strategic HR leadership as its own HR function.

In essence, that's what intelligence and security provider BAE Systems has done with its Human Resources Strategic Services.

Basically, the HRSS department provides a holistic and overarching service that leverages all the leading HR practices -- not just talent management, but project management (HR and otherwise), change management, performance management, even training and communication as well.

It was designed in-house specifically to help HR operate as a business, bringing a complete and strategic approach to all of the most important business activities, including mergers and acquisitions, companywide changes to HR technology systems, entire transformations and integrations of legacy HR policies, even employees' transitions into or out of the I&S industry.

In the latter case, the HRSS team facilitates activities across functions and organizations, and serves as a contact point for all those affected.

To date, HRSS "continues to drive all projects ... that impact BAE's human capital," says Jeannie L. Hill, the program's director. It also drives all "future people-oriented strategies [and] refine[s] its approach with each HR project and activity." 

R.I.T.E. Interview Council

Drake Center/ UC Health, Cincinnati

At some organizations, "core values" are something to be read about in the employee handbook and then quickly forgotten. But at the Drake Center, a provider of specialized and rehabilitation care, those values form a lively topic of conversation in every candidate interview, thanks to a new process that empowers employees to have a voice in the hiring process.

Based on the core values of Respect, Integrity, Teamwork and Excellence, the R.I.T.E. Interview Council was formed as a way to engage current associates to help select candidates with these values.

All 900 associates were invited to participate on the council, and members were selected from all areas of the healthcare workforce by HR, based on their performance and manager recommendation. Members were also required to attend a training session preparing them for their participation in the interview process, and they follow behavioral-interview techniques to ensure top candidates are chosen.

"If the R.I.T.E. council examining the potential new hire does not agree that the individual is a good candidate who will support the Drake culture, the person will not be offered a position, regardless of [his or her] technical skills or credentials," says Sharon Hancock, director of human resources.

Since its inception, the council has participated in more than 60 interviews, resulting in more than 30 hires with 100-percent retention since last July. 

Recruitment Research

Fleishman-Hillard Inc., St. Louis

Last year, global public-relations giant Fleishman-Hillard found itself with a record number of open positions to fill. Unfortunately, there were not enough talent-acquisition team members on hand to meet this challenge. So the company created a team of interns to focus on sourcing and research, freeing the full-time recruiters to focus on interviewing and selection.

The interns are trained in the latest Internet-sourcing techniques so they can immediately conduct specialized candidate searches when a job requisition is made. They're also tasked with gathering and storing industry-related information -- including market trends and competitor information -- for all of Fleishman-Hillard's locations to help give the company's recruiters an edge.

The interns also push out career information, company news and other content to social-media sites, follow discussions via Twitter and monitor groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, helping to identify passive candidates so recruiters can strike up a dialogue with them.

The results? Last year, Fleishman-Hillard had more than 150 openings around the globe, compared to 90 the year before and 70 in 2008.

Yet the company has been able to manage this increased demand without adding to its roster of full-time recruiters, thanks to the sourcing work done by the intern team. The information provided by the intern team has also helped recruiters develop more sophisticated techniques for recruiting in far-flung locations such as India, Australia and the Middle East. 

The Leader in Residence Program

General Electric Co., Fairfield, Conn.

You might say GE's Leader in Residence program is proof-positive that some of the best ideas can start as scribbles on Post-it notes. That's where this innovation was born, during a brainstorming session of GE's executive-development team.

The challenge was to improve and enhance the development of the company's officers -- those leaders at the tops of their businesses within the infrastructure, finance and media giant.

A suggestion was made, and jotted down, that all officers be brought to Crotonville, the company's 53-acre learning center located in Ossining, N.Y. -- not so they could learn the same leadership skills the other aspiring and hand-picked high-performers learn in week-long programs there, but so they could grow their own skills and corporate knowledge by teaching them.

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So far, 21 GE officers have gone through the program -- which includes executive-speaker and coaching sessions as well as fireside chats -- to, as Susan Peters, vice president of executive development and chief learning officer, says, "reflect on their own leadership styles."

Based on the feedback, LIR has helped both officers and participants -- and, as one officer says, "serves as a reminder to not stop having these interactions with young leadership ... when I go back to my business."

While having top leaders dive into organizations and interact with hi-pos is not a new concept, we salute GE for employing the concept specifically for the development of its officers. It's beautifully simple -- from scribble to execution -- which innovations often are.

Project Oxygen

Google Inc., Mountain View, Calif.

The impetus behind this innovative program was a simple question: What if every one of Google's 23,331 employees had an awesome manager?

Using a cross-functional effort that encompassed HR generalists, learning and development professionals, research analysts, communications experts and an employee-resource group of managers, Project Oxygen revealed that Google's best managers have better turnover rates as well as more productive and happy teams.

The team also used double-blind interviews of employees and an experimental group (neither respondents nor researchers knew who was in the control group so bias was prevented) to identify eight behaviors that best managers engage in -- such as good coaching -- as well as three pitfalls, including poor transitioning from an individual contributor role to a managerial one.

Using this information, the team launched four work streams to best use the information, beginning with communicating the research findings through more than 50 staff meetings with managers, as well as a "Learning on the Loo" program, in which the results were posted on the inside of bathroom-stall doors.

Employees were also empowered to take short, upward-feedback surveys that provided their managers with feedback from their teams. The research was also incorporated into learning-and-development resources, including a manager portal and new-manager training courses. The best managers were also recognized with a Great Manager award.

Thanks to the program, 75 percent of Google's low-scoring managers significantly improved their scores in 2010.

"Managers everywhere have taken the feedback to heart, enrolling in new classes, mentoring programs, and manager-development events," adds People Analytics Manager Michelle Donovan.

See the:

Best HR Ideas Intro

Best HR Ideas in Benefits

Best HR Ideas in HR Technology

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