Top seven obstacles to good management of talent

If you believe that legal staff make all the difference in the effectiveness of a law department, you may be interested in recent research into what handicaps effective development of people. Seven obstacles from The McKinsey Quarterly, 2008 No. 1 at 51, and quoted below are based on interviews of 98 business and human-resource leaders at 46 organizations. The seven are below, as written and in the same order, with some references within this blog.

1. Senior managers don’t spend enough high-quality time on talent management (See my post of July 29, 2007: high potentials with 10 references.).

2. Organization is “siloed” and does not encourage constructive collaboration, sharing of resources (See my post of Aug. 28, 2008: rotations for lawyers with 7 references.).

3. Line managers are not sufficiently committed to development of people’s capabilities and careers.

4. Line managers are unwilling to differentiate their people as top, average, and underperformers (See my post of May 4, 2005: decries forced rankings: Nov. 14, 2005: arguments for forced rankings; Dec. 1, 2006 #3: research on forced ranking; and Oct. 12, 2006: consequences of low turnover rates.).

5. CEOs, senior leaders are not sufficiently involved in shaping talent-management strategy (See my post of Nov. 8, 2005: contributions of HR reps; Aug. 24, 2005: HR doing exit interviews; and Sept. 16, 2008: internal recruiters.).

6. Senior leaders do not align talent-management strategy with business strategy.

7. Line managers do not address underperformance effectively; even when chronic (See my post of Sept, 10, 2005: uncouple evaluations from compensation announcements; Jan. 24, 2006: use company-wide evaluation forms; Feb. 15, 2006: from evaluations to performance management; March 3, 2006: John Deere rethinks evaluations; Nov. 6, 2006: in-house counsel dislike their performance review processes; April 13, 2007: halo effect; June 5, 2007: shortcomings of appraisal processes; July 9, 2007: mid-year reviews; July 25, 2007: evaluate morale courage; July 29, 2007: human capital management and references cited; Aug. 4, 2007: thumb-nail analyses of lawyers by clients; and Nov. 7, 2007: goal of no surprises at annual review.).

The article summarizes these hurdles as including “short-term mind-sets, minimal collaboration and talent sharing among business units, ineffective line management, and confusion about the role of HR professionals.”

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