“Yes, turnover is higher than usual right now, for everyone. But we’re being hit really hard. In Q1, we lost some of our critical rising talent. We’re bleeding crucial talent that we can’t replace. What do we do?” I hear a common variation of this theme among HR employees as the department struggles with turnover related to the Great Resignation. In many cases, HR departments are struggling to address the impacts of critical turnover because their executives aren’t having effective talent discussions.
CEOs and HR are worried about talent at the moment. DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast sounded it. The most recent report by the Conference Board amplified it. Attracting and retaining talent is the number 1 priority for CEOs globally.
Many executives and HR leaders are teaming up to do a lot of good things, such as revising leadership competency models, launching innovative programs, deploying 360s, and enlisting critical C-suite sponsorship. But the crucial step many of them are missing is having effective talent discussions. Executives need to meet regularly to discuss their teams’ current and future capabilities; however, few executives know how to host these conversations. This is where HR can have a huge impact.
The Pivotal Elements of Effective Talent Discussions
The most productive talent-building cultures are set apart by their capabilities and disciplines in holding highly effective talent discussions.
Talent discussions answer vital questions, usually about specific talent. Here are some examples:
- What one pivotal question must be answered to confirm assertions of Juan’s high potential?
- What are we willing to invest in Troy to minimize his flight risk?
These and other tough questions are pivotal elements of effective talent discussions. Whether part of a formal talent review process or embedded into ongoing executive team meetings, these discussions build essential alignment, strong commitment, and clear accountability for action.
Building on these vital questions that talent discussions must answer—below are a few essential keys that executive teams need to ensure their talent discussions are effective.
Key 1: Be Intentional About Initiating Talent Discussions
Whose job is it, anyway? Who owns the talent discussion?
While the ultimate accountability for developing organizational talent lies with executives, HR’s challenge is to add indispensable value in helping those executives deliver on that accountability. HR’s job is to drive effective talent discussions. We do this in service to an executive team’s accountability. When HR steps up to plan and facilitate high-quality talent discussions, its internal “stock price” doubles.
With competing priorities, we are challenged to translate good intention into execution. A wise senior executive once said, “What gets calendared gets done.” This applies to talent conversations.
Key 2: Create Goals and Development Actions Based on Talent Discussions
Do you ever feel like when you are in a talent discussion you are watching a rerun? Hearing the same names, the same observations, and sharing often-repeated concerns?
To be fair, executives may be addressing a “tough nut to crack” situation, that requires repeated examination. Many times though, the “rerun” betrays a failure to define and assign accountability for follow-up actions.
As part of the talent discussion discipline, institute the simple “who, what, by when” accountability chart for each talent discussed. Inspect what is expected by establishing quarterly progress reviews with the team. Be sure to use the accountability chart as the structure for those follow-up reviews.
Learn more keys to having effective talent conversations in DDI’s blog.