Why is that poor-performing employee still hanging around, month after month, with no action taken to remove him from the organization?
The first thought would be to look at some of our talent management functions—namely performance management. Are our managers aware of the process? Do they have the tools to solve the problem? That is the logical approach, but have you considered that it could be linked to your talent acquisition process?
Last week I was discussing talent with my colleague Mollie Lombardi, and she posited that poor TA processes might contribute to retaining poor-performing employees long- term. The argument is this: as a manager, I would not remove a subpar employee without the trust in my recruiting process to bring me a suitable replacement. Based on the latest Brandon Hall Group Talent Shortage and Hiring Practices research, 64% of organizations say the biggest challenge they face is attracting talent, and 37% say quality of hire is a key issue. If talent leaders know that hiring is an issue, so do managers.
Another common reason for avoiding this confrontation would be due to budget constraints, of course. If a supervisor faces budgetary hurdles or is unsure the employee would be replaced in a timely manner, that could also contribute to inaction. For purposes of this post, however, we’ll focus on the trust issue since it’s something that is easier to affect as a talent leader.
It also works on the other end of the spectrum. If I have a great employee who would be a candidate for development and upward mobility within the organization, but I don’t trust the talent acquisition team to find me a good (or even better) replacement for the individual, I may not push the employee toward the new opportunity.
One of the biggest challenges I had at a previous employer was getting managers at all levels to act on the poor-performing employees under their charge. It seems like a no-brainer: get rid of the subpar staff members and replace them with potential rock stars. But in reality it’s often more complex. It’s the old “the devil you know vs. the one you don’t” argument, and some managers would rather settle for suboptimal performance.
What is the Answer?
This is another clear argument for integrated talent management practices. Talent acquisition doesn’t happen in a vacuum any more than budgeting happens only in finance.
If trust in the process is an issue, it would be worthwhile for talent acquisition leaders to display some proof of performance. Work with your succession planning team to ensure that candidates not only exist internally for succession-related purposes, but that you also have a good recruiting pipeline in place to backfill any necessary roles. Additionally, the skills in identifying and selecting talent have been honed most in the TA function, so leveraging those assets when selecting internal staff for growth roles makes sense.
Going back to the Talent Shortage survey data, this will prove challenging. Respondents said they have “consistent difficulty sourcing quality candidates” in mid-level, experienced, and manager positions. In other words, those prime candidates for succession are exactly the ones that are most difficult to replace.
Either way, organizations, and talent processes in particular, are incredibly complex. What often seems like a simple solution can have a ripple effect, influencing people, systems, and processes downstream.
Would your managers say they trust the talent acquisition process at your organization? If so, are they ensuring that they have the best employees on hand to solve challenges on a daily basis?
–Ben Eubanks, Associate HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group