How to Manage HR/ HCM Role for Talent Edge

An excerpt from the forthcoming book “Organizing and Managing Insanely Great Products” by David Fradin with RN Prasad.

Talent management includes:


    1. Digital Technologies


    1. Data


    1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)


    1. Top HR Challenges


    1. Major Disruptions


    1. Annual Reviews


    1. Coaching


    1. Corporate Universities



In this section I discuss what talent management includes, the impact of digital technologies and more data, AI, top challenges, expected major disruptions, the decreasing use of annual reviews and the importance of coaching and if it is a large organization the advantage of a corporate university.

Organizational and product success depends on having great talent. In addition to hiring, developing, and retaining talent, the talent must be managed.
How to Manage HR-HCM Role for Talent Edge

Talent management includes:


    1. The company’s current and future strategy


    1. Identifying talent gaps key to success


    1. A plan to close those gaps


    1. Quality hiring and promotion


    1. Connecting individual and team goals to corporate goals, including feedback on performance


    1. Development of a talent bench for future promotion, and


    The metrics to monitor the success of talent management

Talent management should include competencies, personal attributes, knowledge, and experience.
Mercer has identified four key trends in talent management for 2019. They are:1. Aligning work to future value2. Building the company’s brand (promise) to attract and retain talent3. Make work simple, intuitive and digitally-enabled and4. Inspiring a growth mindset by redesigning structures, workflows, and talent strategies around your people.

Digital Technologies

Digital technologies will continue to reshape how human resources (HR) is delivered in the organization. Accenture identifies how in five ways: Data, power, consumer, customization talent management, and cloud computing.


Traditional HR encompasses recruiting, compensation, benefits, training and development, and career development. But with digital enhancements, the lines will begin to be blurred. Tools for quick pulse surveys are emerging. With GPS and tracking, HR can find the talent most likely to succeed based upon the talent’s propensity to take the initiative, and what they are researching. This learning about talent gives a bigger picture of what the organization’s workforce wants and needs.

Such data about the employees will make it easier to forecast talent needs, identify gaps, offer advancement suggestions, identify key success characteristics, time in/out of office, vacation is taken, and medical costs.

Thus the analysis of the data will move HR from understanding the past to predicting the future.

Digital will enable more people to get involved with recruiting, hiring, succession planning, learning, and offering career paths. Digital will reduce the time HR spends on administrative duties, perhaps freeing them up to building a culture to enhance talent performance. Finding the right talent at the right time will be enhanced with digital.

As HR shifts from proprietary, on-site IT systems to SaaS (Software as a Service) in the Cloud, HR needs will be better satisfied, faster, and more flexible.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI can help eliminate repetitive tasks, accelerate the search for talent, reduce employee attrition, and improve employee engagement says PWC. A big opportunity is the use of AI for recruitment and hiring. It can help in speeding up the recruitment process and thus give the organization an advantage in hiring top talent before they go someplace else.

AI can also be used to help in retainment by, for example, monitoring social media. Using “people analytics,” people’s statements AI can detect mood changes, and intentions on social media and can be compared with others. It can then be determined if the employee is engaged or not and challenged or not. If an employee is not engaged or challenged, they tend to move on.

Digital can help employees feel engaged, valued, and in control of their professional development.

Top HR Challenges

Gartner says these three top challenges will be facing HR in 2019. They are:

    1. Build critical skills and competencies for the organization


    1. Strengthen the current and future leadership bench


    Improve the employee experience

For HR to help to organize and to manage insanely great and successful products and services, it is critical (as discussed elsewhere in this book) that the 130 competencies for success be assessed person by person and then developed and/or hired. Then set the people up for advancement while improving the employee experience.

In my experience, product success managers will move on if they feel that they are not being heard or are powerless to be successful. The product manager has most of the skills for the success of an organization. Therefore, it is easier for them to start their own business, or join another company at a higher level, or move into business development, or sales, or marketing, or engineering management. Thus keeping them happy is critical to retention and critical to product and organizational success.

Major Disruptions

HR for product success management should be keen on the major disruptions that will be occurring in the next five years and how they will impact HR throughout the organization. For example, autonomous vehicles that can roam and make money for their employee-owners will not need a parking space. Perhaps that acreage could be put to better use for housing, more office space, or just plain open space.

Climate change will probably provide significant disruptions of work from such events as heatwaves, floods, hurricanes, and storms. The internet of things will enable activities not available before. AI will be deployed throughout the organization and by customers and competitors. New training methods using augmented and virtual reality incorporating simulations will emerge. Food innovations resulting in less waste may or may not enable providing food for a growing world population. Increasing amounts of data allow analytics not available before. Workforce turnover as the workforce ages and has different values. And lastly, digital transformations and robotics will change many things. HR should think through each of these areas and projects and plan for the disruptions before they occur.

The “gig” economy might emerge calling on the hiring of product success management consultants. But those consultants, to be successful, need timely and accurate information about such things as sales, competition, product development status, what is working in marketing and what is not, state of customer support and service, etc.

Part of what HR should be driving is the flattening of the organizational chart enabling the product organization to be closer to the customer. Being close to the customer is what HP did when they started in 1938 by not allowing any division to get any bigger than 500 people before spinning off into new operations or divisions. Being close to the customer enabled HP to grow 20% per year for 50 years. Now other companies are beginning to replicate that structure. This requires a change in thinking from expecting the most senior of management to be the smartest. And giving senior management all the authority. Instead, success depends on recognizing the intelligence of the organization is greater than the sum of the individuals. Accordingly, the authority should be delegated to the lowest part of the organization that affects customer satisfaction.

Annual Reviews

Annual Reviews

As more and more jobs require more in-depth expertise, more significant independent judgment, and problem-solving skills, the traditional annual review does not work. It is done too infrequently, and sometimes, it is only subjective and demotivating. Frequently it could serve as a motivation to leave the company.

Several times in my career, I quit and/or started looking for another opportunity as a result of the unhelpful annual review. Continual feedback and coaching are far more helpful.

GE, who once developed the process of annual reviews copied by organizations worldwide no longer does so. Instead, they and other companies want to reduce subjective evaluations in exchange for real-time feedback. They use crowdsources, structured, and unstructured performance feedback from meetings, problem-solving sessions, completed projects, launches, and campaigns.

Some companies have an app so employees can request feedback in a 360 style from their managers, peers, and subordinates. Top performers can be identified by aggregating the feedback, which is objective. Care must be taken to eliminate negative feedback.

A number of studies have found the primary motivators of people is for them seeing a purpose and value in their work. Purpose and being valued is particularly essential for product success managers since they typically have the highest visibility into what makes a successful product. On the other hand, others from sales, marketing, support, training, operations, legal, HR, and others can easily cause a product to fail and not care since what they are doing is driven by metrics other than product success.

I have had that situation over the years many times. In one case, Donna Dubinski, my distribution manager, and later one of the co-founders of Palm computing, said I could not do a sales promotion for my product because her distribution system could not support it. I said, “change the system, distribution is not a sales prevention operation.”



HR could organize and manage a full-scale coaching activity. Identify top performers and make them available to others that could be coached frequently and just in time.


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