Blog Post

Say "So Long" to Silos: Part 2

Gayle Loving

Principal, The Pearn Group

In Part One of this series, we discussed how humans and silos are natural partners. We like to put things in groups, categorize, and label them. We also make assumptions based on those silos that can keep us from achieving the business impact promised by integrated talent management. In this installment, we are going to take a look at a scenario encountered by many employees:

Consider This Scenario

A global, consumer-products company called GCP Co. has hired Doris as a Warehouse Manager. Warehouse Manager is a critical role within GCP and a vacancy in this position directly impacts GCP’s ability to serve its customers. Doris meets with her new manager, Bill, for her 90 Day Review and he tells Doris that she is doing well and exceeding his expectations. Bill also informs her that HR requires every employee to have a development plan.

"Go to the talent management portal and fill out the development plan. I will approve it and then we can get on with other things," Bill instructs her.

Doris leaves the meeting wondering if she made the right decision in coming to GCP. Doris calls her recruiter and says, "I expected them to give me some input on how to be successful at GCP and help me outline a plan for moving ahead. I joined this company because they stressed their commitment to employee development and providing opportunity for advancement."

Get Your Managers In the Loop

GCP is now on the verge of losing a great employee holding a critical position. Why? The main reason is that her manager doesn’t get it. There are three distinct silos in play here:

  1. The employee has expectations of coaching development from her manager;

  1. HR has a leadership-sponsored process for development (hey have supported it with technology and communicated the process to the business), and

  1. The manager views development as an administrative task that he must get done or get in trouble with HR.

Change management would help integrate these three different perspectives by helping those involved understand that Talent Management is everyone’s responsibility.

  • Doris is ready to participate and is motivated to move ahead. HR has provided a process.

  • Bill thinks that Talent Management processes are HR’s responsibility and he just needs to keep them off his back.

Clearly, HR has made the assumption that managers know and understand that they own talent management just as much as HR does. The manager doesn’t really understand how his lack of focus on managing his talent will ultimately end up hurting him and GCP either through low employee engagement or the loss of a good employee with potential.

We used development as an example here, but this lack of understanding by managers can have equally devastating effects on performance management, succession planning, and talent acquisition.

Without a common understanding of what role managers play in talent management, Doris will most likely be blamed for a less than stellar performance - and if she leaves, it will be written off as a "bad hire" by recruiting. You get the picture.

Who’s Accountable for Talent Management Decisions?

Another key element that is missing here is accountability. It isn’t enough to educate managers on their responsibilities. They need to be held accountable for their talent management decisions and outcomes. If Bill were held accountable by his leader, in addition to HR, he would be more likely to view the development conversation with Doris as an important business discussion rather than an administrative duty. Many organizations assign talent goals to managers. Those goals are included on either the annual performance review or used as input to their variable compensation plan. Remember, what is measured, gets attention.

In summary, some of the most dangerous silos are a result of a lack of understanding of what is expected and a lack of accountability. Change management and accountability are not instant fixes and should be planned as part of the initial implementation of any Talent Management process. Even if you didn’t do that at the onset – you should do it now.

As we talked about last time, silos are created by people, and in order to mitigate their impact, we need to help people see the integration that is possible and then support them in achieving it.

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