Why Business Leaders should conduct Talent Reviews


In order to be successful in today’s business climate, leaders need to not only develop a strategy, but execute on that strategy. There is too much fast-moving competition for an important initiative to fail due to lack of progress. How one manages people, and work, and the complex relationship between people and work is what sets one business leader apart from her peers.

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One of those things is getting resource allocations to stick

In her eBook and accompanying video, Patty Azzarello, veteran business leader and former GM of Hewlett Packard, lays out five key things that block action from actually occurring. One of those things is getting resource allocations to stick. Here is what she has to say:

“If you want to do new things, you have to move resources. Moving resources is really hard and it’s one of the biggest things people disagree about. Your strategy is where you put your resources. You need to ensure you put the right resources on the new things you need to get done. Never ever expect your staff to do this offline and cooperate behind the scenes to move resources around. It will never happen. You need to drive the resource decisions – top down, in the light of day with the whole staff and make those assignment decisions really clear up front. Or else, those resource shifts are never going to happen.”

Getting staff together to decide resource allocations in the context of new and changing initiatives is the essence of a talent review. It is easy enough to assign theoretical headcount numbers to new product investments, new territories, or new business development initiatives. It is a whole different matter to figure out who the right people are to lead and support these initiatives, how this is going to affect existing teams, and to get the management team on board with the changes.

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The conversation, results, and action plan are transparent

In a talent review, the leadership team first discusses the business initiatives critical to success in the coming year(s).  Important leadership roles and vulnerable staffing areas are highlighted.  Next, the discussion moves to individuals.  Each individual within the scope of the review (managers and above, critical experts, etc.) is examined.  What is the individual’s strengths?  What is their interest? Are they a fit for a new initiative or are they better suited to remain where they are?  Should they be groomed for the next opportunity?  Over the course of the conversation, the leaders get on the same page with what matters to the business and what’s needed by the business. Disagreements are plentiful – especially when it comes to losing staff or not getting the choice assignment proposed for a mentee.  The conversation, results, and action plan are transparent, though, and the business leader can be confident in the execution of the plan.

HR business partners can bring quite a lot of value to a talent review.

HR business partners can bring quite a lot of value to a talent review.  In addition to facilitating the conversation and keeping the objectives and action plan on track, the HR partner will likely have access to data analysis, including cross-organizational comparisons and historical trends.  In addition, the HR partner can help with the follow-through on the action plan itself by incorporating the team’s needs into programs such as recruiting, development, and learning as well as providing coaching to the managers with changed responsibilities.

In the best case scenario, the HR business partner has already recommended this approach and the business leaders are on board and seeing strong results.  This is the case in a good portion of Fortune 500 companies – at least at certain levels and in certain functions. For those business leaders that lack this benefit, don’t wait for HR. Talent reviews are a business-led activity.  Initiate the need with HR and make the sessions happen.  Your strategy will be thankful.

Your POV: Are you a business leader?  Do you conduct talent reviews? (or do you call them something else?) Is HR involved?  Shoot me a note.  I’d love to hear your story.


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