Mark Miller

Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Fast Company put out an interesting article regarding Human Resources and career advancement. The essential proposal they presented was one that turned our heads but also found us nodding in agreement on certain things.

Here’s the idea: The role of HR has been reduced to formulas.

“Development of talent is used as a resource to recruit employees by helping people to tick more of the boxes defined in those competency frameworks,” says the article’s author, David Clutterbuck, a professor at Sheffield Hallam and Oxford Brookes Universities in the UK.

What are these competency frameworks? Well, put simply, they are over-generalized categories that standardize employee development and advancement.

Unfortunately, instead of seeking out unique talents from potential or current employees, this has become a way to simply ensure a baseline.

To be sure, with any organization, a framework is needed to approach talent management and provide basis succession and development. However, rather than trying to simplify employee advancement, why not—as the article states—“take the risks and actually look at employee talent as an intricate system”?

Why do this? Well, for starters, there’s nothing more intricate than the relationships, perspectives, approaches and thinking styles of a company’s people.

  • That means opening the channels of employee succession and advancement to encompass more than ‘work’ traits.
  • It means having more honest dialogue within the company.
  • It means more efforts by HR to acknowledge the uniqueness of each individual and a mission to provide assurance to employees that there is value and reason for them within the company.

A multimodal HR approach allows for employees to manage their own careers and create avenues and networks of communication. It places a premium on using individual innovation to tackle projects and demonstrating personal traits to others. It creates a framework for teams that actually perform to the strengths of members and with the clear goals of the business in mind.

Understanding your unique personality and performance in all arenas is a goal that Emergenetics emphasizes highly. We agree with how this article approaches this new model of talent and growth.

Finding your particular thinking and behavioral tendencies and understanding how you operate in various scenarios is imperative for growth—not just for you, but for your work and your life. To have HR realize how you as an employee think and match that to the competencies that are valued within the company creates a way to build engagement and boost culture.

Imagine if employees were promoted to the most interesting and beneficial positions in a company. It is conducive on a micro and a macro level.

This is a “complex-adaptive” talent management system that can’t come only from HR. Employees must be motivated to advance their career—luckily, that comes more easily when work is translated to fit one’s natural preferences. Put yourself in this model:

  • How do you respond behaviorally in an assortment of scenarios at work?
  • How do you think about these issues?
  • How does your approach tie into the leadership competencies your company values?

If both HR and employees can start thinking outside the traditional boxes, the way individuals advance and companies grow could be dramatically different.

For HR,

  • Provide a way for employees to view their natural strengths
  • Strive for more efficiency with teams based on work styles
  • Create a platform for better decisions around career advancement

For Employees,

  • Think about how your own qualities can help you engage in broader dialogue
  • Realize how communicating efficiently can help open opportunities for yourself

If anything is clear, it’s that there is no such thing as a linear work environment. The work domain is constantly changing and this should always be used to the advantage of making employees and organizations stronger.

In today’s age, talent development is changing—it’s about what people can learn from a job rather than if people can do a job. It’s about using your strengths, whatever they may be, to succeed.