Putting the “Care” in Career: Key Elements of People-Centric Talent Management (Part Two)

There is a direct correlation between a company’s financial performance and the level of employee engagement and career fulfillment. In other words, organizations that take deliberate steps to create an environment where career experiences are fulfilling, purposeful, and supportive of personal growth increase their probability of delivering strong business performance. This blog series looks at the role of people-centricity in talent management strategies that differentiate organizations from their competitors.

A “one-size fits all” approach to talent management is no longer enough for companies seeking to build and sustain their position as an attractive destination for top talent. Instead, a more people-centered approach that prioritizes experiences and opportunities for the workforce will lead to a more engaged and fulfilled organization, and in turn a high-performance culture. People-centered talent and career management requires a focus on the following:  

1.    Mission and values-focused career experiences

The Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi famously quoted, “One cannot lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to something greater and more permanent than oneself.” Our beliefs (ideas that you hold to be true) and values (what is important to you) are core to decision-making. This facet of human nature dictates that people are more motivated to try to excel in a company that they believe in and that shares their beliefs and values. Organizations with a clearly defined mission behind WHY they do what they do, supported by a strong set of company values, can help to cultivate a sense of belonging for employees. 

In Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras demonstrate that organizations which focus on building strong values‐driven cultures outperform those that don’t. To build this type of culture, managers and leaders need to communicate how the work that their teams are doing is moving the organization towards its overall mission. It requires a deliberate focus on ensuring career frameworks are designed to support managers and their teams in defining career goals that directly and clearly contribute to the overall mission of the organization. Doing so injects a sense of purpose into their team’s work, making them significantly more likely to evoke greater enthusiasm from their teams.

2. Personalized and forward-looking career goals

As individuals, we have a unique set of strengths, personality traits, career ambitions, and goals that drive and motivate us. The more we can do work that we feel we are good at, that compliments the way we like to solve problems and moves us closer to our future career goals, the more motivated we will be to deliver our best work.
Career frameworks often prescribe generic and static corporate expectations of a role within the organization (e.g. role responsibilities, targets, competency expectations), with very little consideration (if any) of the individual’s own personal goals and motivations. 
Career frameworks should serve as guidelines to the expected outcomes linked to “good” performance in a role. However, how these outcomes are achieved should be a collaborative and personalized discussion between the manager and individual. Managers play a critical role as influencers on the careers of those under their care, which means they have a responsibility to ensure that they are taking the time to understand each individual on their teams—and subsequently to identify the work and opportunities that play to their natural strengths and will contribute to their future career goals.

3. Results-driven work goals and environments 

In Daniel Pink’s book, Drive - The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us, he draws upon 50 years of study into behavioral science to deduce that human beings have three psychological needs – Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness. When these needs are satisfied, we are motivated, productive, and happy.
The autonomy bias tells us that we have an innate need to be agents of our own lives. In the context of work, autonomy is the ability to direct your approach to work and your career path. According to Pink, “by rethinking traditional ideas of control – regular office hours, dress codes, numerical targets, and so on – organizations can increase staff autonomy, build trust, and improve innovation and creativity.”  In other words, outcomes-focused organizations that create conditions and environments for employees to do their best work, will create a happier, productive, and empowered workforce. For example, technology advancements can enable a more outcomes-focused approach to talent management, empowering employees with the autonomy and flexibility to choose how and where they work. 
What sets human beings apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to question and explore the essence of “who we are.” Understanding our motivations and harnessing our strengths is key to being human, and ultimately, being successful. This reality begs the question: Why do organizations continue to design talent and career management frameworks with a “one-size fits all” approach? If you want to retain talent, increase motivation, and be more productive, then you need to align your mission to employee values, empower them to create personalized career goals, and give them the autonomy to choose how they get there. Treat employees as people and put the “care” back into career.

Click here to read part one of our series.