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“Help me help you” – Talent Management in Second Stage Companies

Rebecca Davies has put together a great ½-day HR Summit at Walsh College on March 10th. (If anyone is interested, I have a few extra tickets, so please let me know.)


I’ll be speaking about the shift that HR needs to make from Stage 1 to Stage 2, which is a substantial change. In Stage 1, HR is really about minimizing administrative distractions that get in the way of doing work. In Stage 2, HR plays a central role because talent is the key to success in this stage.


When I think about HR in Second Stage companies, I’m reminded of Jerry Maguire telling his client, “Help me help you…Help me help you.” Picture the staff of your business saying that to you, asking you for the kinds of strategic HR programs that make working at your company engaging, productive, and rewarding.


But many Second Stage companies don’t have those kinds of programs, because they are struggling to make HR more strategic.


Let’s look in more detail at the shift that happens as a company develops.


Stage 1: time horizon – this year

Stage 2: time horizon – 2-3 years

A big part of the complexity in Second Stage companies comes from the need for the business to have a longer time horizon. In HR, that longer horizon means that personal development plans need to be developed – and then coordinated across the company…and with the company’s strategy and development itself. That’s much more complicated than the “get the job done” focus of Stage 1.


Stage 1: define responsibilities

Stage 2: define competencies


We like to say that Stage 1 is like beach volleyball – success comes from reacting quickly and going wherever the play is. By the “end” of Stage 1, there is some consistency developing, and so the business starts to define responsibilities. As a business enters Stage 2, each role gets more defined, and as a result each position has its own set of needs. At that point, the business needs to define the competencies needed for each position to be effective.


Stage 1: feedback focused on assessment

Stage 2: feedback focused on development


Just about every Stage 1 company I know struggles with simply doing performance reviews – the evolution they are working on is providing assessment feedback. The assessment framework is usually established by the time the company is a “young Stage 2,” and after that, the evolution that the business needs to make is the context of that assessment – the employee’s development plan.


Second Stage companies need to shift their approach to HR to get the most out of their people – and give the most to their people.


I’ll get into more detail about these ideas at Walsh’s HR Summit on March 10th. You can also read more about how my clients are handling Talent Management issues in my past blog posts on quarterly issues, and I have an article on the subject on our Resources page.

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