Cloud-based talent management applications should be used to “brighten” the view of your workforce

The proliferation of cloud-based talent management software has never been greater and set the stage better for a true revolution in the way companies can drive sustainable, competitive advantage through their people. Basing these applications in the cloud provides cost advantages, greater flexibility, efficiency and agility than on-premise systems. But the effective execution of the cloud lies not simply in the utilization of limitless tools and templates now available in chosen system(s), but in the ability to exploit these applications to connect with our people in more meaningful, more human, more effective ways than ever before. As we look at a few examples, we can begin to understand both the risks and the possibilities with these applications and how the cloud can further brighten, not shade, the connection to our workforce.

Performance management has become, perhaps, as disillusioning as any existing talent related business process. Eyes roll and disengagement spikes as workers continue to experience an administrative, impersonal approach to their value as a performer. Cloud-based modules now provide a variety of new features, including more space to write comprehensive comments about performance and new timing functionality to auto-save performance comments. The risk, of course, is that the boundless comment field becomes a proxy for face-to-face formal and informal feedback, a practice that has regrettably become scarce and/or marginalized over time, especially in our “virtual” workplaces. Instead of summarizing and confirming what should be discussed verbally in a live setting, the template now threatens to replace whatever dialogue might have already existed. To mitigate this risk, leaders must utilize the new features to optimize the written mode of communication as a supplement to the verbal one already in place. The performer’s search for clarity can be gained, and long-term engagement sealed, through a multi-modal approach to open and honest performance feedback.

Talent profiles can now be defined and made visible in greater detail, incorporating more specific behavioral components associated with standard job competencies. Cloud-based applications have set a new standard around the granularity of our view of a given job. The resulting expectation is that the organization will be fully accountable to that standard across the entire talent system. If not, the profiles become “cloudy” and the workforce skeptical. Learning objectives for role-based curricula should align with the behaviors specifically outlined in the system. Performance must be fairly assessed against the sub-competencies so carefully defined in the profile. Applicant screening processes should leverage these detailed role profiles to drive superior candidate pools. Indeed, the opportunity for a truly systemic and integrated approach to the management of talent awaits the company ready to fully embrace the cloud.

There are now new performance subject areas within systems available for employees or managers to report more fluidly on development goals. Such reporting capabilities allow for a running commentary or “diary” of progress and constraints associated with predefined development objectives. Of course, sometimes the root cause of impeded progress or unbridled success is hidden or below the waterline, liberated only by an open dialogue about a project or goal. Valued self-reflection coming out of these applications can inform the peer discussions, team meetings and management conversations that follow. Organizations must not allow the application to define a development culture; rather, the emerging capabilities offered by cloud based technologies must support the culture and ensure that the processes these technologies automate are advancing, not replacing, the human dimension of talent management.

Talent leaders understand that with progress comes risk. If sophisticated talent applications monopolize the communication channels within our business, our workforce will be hidden from our view. On the other hand, if we leverage the capabilities of cloud technologies in the right way, the future of our business and the commitment of our people will never be brighter.

The Honor Flight: A provocative reminder of the unharnessed talent available in the market

Earlier this week, I had the distinct privilege of accompanying my 95-year old Dad, a WWII navy officer, on the annual Honor Flight from Atlanta, GA to Washington D.C. The Honor Flight is a fully funded trip for veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam to our nation’s capital for a full day of fanfare, War Memorial tours, and celebration of their critical role in our country’s freedom.  The day proved to be an unforgettable tribute to my Dad and a reminder to me of the talented men and women who have worn our nation’s colors and served the flag with distinction and grace.

While many of the 80 veterans on my flight were well past their working years, our conversations about their various military roles reinforced in my mind the prominence and transferability of so many skills which lie dormant as our veterans often search for pathways into the private sector. The trip reminded me that we as a nation must take responsibility for helping our veterans, particularly those who are transitioning from recent assignments back into the work force, build the career networks they need and identify the career options that lie before them. Many of these individuals do not know how to start the process, how to build a resume, how to assess their own potential and how to connect with the right people.

Here’s the good news … these men and women are members of the greatest military force on the planet, and they bring to the marketplace an enormously strong and unharnessed set of skills that can help so many organizations excel and grow. Many veterans are perhaps too humble to advocate for themselves or laud their awesome accomplishments, so we must find opportunities to be their voice. We must find organizational roles through which they can apply their unwavering military discipline, their rock-solid values, their prolific technical competencies, and their tested people skills in crisis leadership, team development, decision-making, problem solving, and others.

Across our great land there are veterans who are reaching out for ideas that can help bridge their transition from military service to civilian service. All industry and company leaders battling for competitive advantage should look thoughtfully and creatively at the impressive profile of talent available to them. These men and women represent tremendous potential for our future, and our gracious assistance is the right thing to do for those who have walked in harms way.

Lighthouse Consulting is a proud advisor to ACP AdvisorNet, a non-profit organization on a mission to assist our returning military find their next career.