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Building the 21st Century Workforce

Patrick Ibarra

Co-Founder and Partner, The Mejorando Group

The role of the public sector is quickly changing. Creating the workforce that will be needed requires new approaches.

The public sector is experiencing transformational change. Today’s workplace is overflowing in a number of trends that include labels for the assorted workforce demographics, serious talk about pension reform, and how to re-energize organizational members many of who have been personally impacted by a series of budget reductions. All the while there is increased public scrutiny about the evolving role of government, deepening concerns over the increasing departure of top performers and the ever changing legal landscape all which combine as headwinds confronting executives, directors and managers throughout all levels of government. These trends can be extremely disruptive by generating abundant ambiguity to freeze even the most experienced public sector veteran from moving forward.

How do leaders, partnering with Human Resources, help create the 21st century workforce needed to deliver better government? The answer is Talent Management. Human Resource Development evolved towards Succession Planning which, in turn has transitioned into Talent Management. Talent Management is comprised of eight segments – each must be designed well, executed proficiently, woven seamlessly with the other segments and regularly monitored for potential variance.

Successful approaches to each of the segments include:

  • Recruiting: The mechanics of recruiting include a contemporary sourcing strategy that features all social media platforms, an automated applicant tracking system, and use of social marketing techniques.

  • Selection: Utilize a healthy mix of selection tools such as interview panels consisting of workforce members who will serve alongside the candidate hired, behavioral interviewing techniques and appropriate use of pre-employment screening devices.

  • Learning (instead of Training): Requirement that every employee have an annual Individual Training and Development Plan (ITDP) he/she co-created with their respective manager. The components should include a combination of technical and non-technical activities. The focus of the ITDP must be based on both the mission and performance goals of the employer and the development and growth of job/position related competencies (i.e. Communication, Change Acumen, Managing Employee Performance).

  • Career Planning: Human Resources staff actively partners with occupations and professions within their agency to develop a series of sequential Career Planning steps, which may include a Self-Assessment. Job levels such as Maintenance Worker II or Accountant III do not always constitute a career path as much as they indicate a compensation level.

  • Succession Planning: Based on an assessment of the agency’s workforce demographics, implement a Succession Planning Program consisting of leadership and management learning activities intended to equip workforce members as potential candidates for position/job openings in the foreseeable future.

  • Performance Management: A credible approach to managing employee performance is essential to an effective Talent Management Program. Besides the importance of the actual instrument used, how well supervisors and managers are at navigating the performance discussion with their employees is equally as important.

  • Retention: Targeted actions to retain workforce members who organizational leaders believe are high performers. Non-economic actions may include stretch assignments and work-life flexibility.

  • Knowledge Transfer: Repurposing tactic knowledge from employees, prior to their leaving, is crucial for the continuity of government organizations. A number of practical tools and techniques are available that emphasize productive and useful knowledge sharing.

The emergence of a well-designed and effectively executed Talent Management Programs, are well underway. Increasingly organizational leaders are pivoting from past efforts to build their workforce and instead embracing the comprehensive and systematic approach that Talent Management Programs offer.

On October 22nd, Patrick will be presenting a webinar on "Talent Management: The Next Phase of Succession Planning."

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