Reinventing Talent Management
How to Maximize Performance in the New Marketplace

Review by
Peter M. Tobia
Market Access

Over the past ten or so years talent management has become something of an HR hurrah term. Surely, the sheer tonnage of newsprint, books, and articles on the subject, along with space on HR internet sites and air time at conferences indicate that talent management is a dominant issue. The extent to which all the hubbub has led to tangible results is quite another issue, but the publication of Dr. William Schiemann's Reinventing Talent Management: How to Maximize Performance in the New Marketplace (John Wiley, June 2009) is indeed likely to "reinvent" how value related to the human side of an enterprise is approached, measured and enhanced.

Make no mistake about it, this is an important book. Its aim is to put a tight process and the discipline of measurement behind the annual report cliché that "Our people are our most important asset." At the heart of Dr. Schiemann's thesis is a provocative new talent management model he terms People Equity. It ties together in an integrated framework the crucial elements of value, strategy, and people.

The People Equity model identifies three make-or-break factors that contribute to both organizational and individual success. These three factors—Alignment, Capabilities, and Engagement—are keys to maximizing the value contribution of an organization's human resources toward meeting key business goals. The model avoids the pitfalls of some popular approaches which focus on a single variable, such as engagement, as the key to the talent management kingdom. Reality, especially human resources reality, is too complex to be reduced to one-dimensional thinking.

Reinventing Talent Management is based on an impressive body of quantitative and qualitative research. As CEO of Metrus Group, which specializes in strategic performance measurement and consulting, Dr. Schiemann and his team have worked with hundreds of companies across the industrial landscape to raise the value contribution of human resources. In addition, he cites impressive national research with over 2,000 organizations, conducted in partnership with the American Society for Quality, along with in-depth interviews with 70, C-suite executives, practitioners, academics and talent thought leaders.

One of the book's aims is to have People Equity stand alongside customer equity and financial equity as a cornerstone concept for managing, building, and measuring human value creation in an organization. The research and scope of his analysis takes readers though a careful analysis of the What and Why of the People Equity concept, along with the How to manage and measure it. But it doesn't rest here. The book then moves on to a wide-ranging discussion of implications for resource allocation, aligning strategy, culture, and talent, growing customer value, attracting and retaining top performers, and much more. Overall, Dr. Schiemann makes a compelling case for the bottom-line criticality of People Equity.

Reinventing Talent Management doesn't blink when discussing some of today's knottiest talent management issues: What talent management factors yield the biggest payoffs? Why are businesses losing an average of 20 percent of their customers to controllable talent factors? Why do some organizations have highly engaged employees in down economies, while in others employees are disengaged even in good times? Dr. Schiemann confronts these and a variety of other challenging questions head-on, and in the process demonstrates why talent management must be reinvented and how to go about doing so.

This review will appear in the July/August 2009 issue of Cost Management

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