Bad Filing, Bad Decisions

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-04-06 Print this article Print

Every company claims it values employees. But a talent-management system can help organizations know they're hiring the best and promoting the brightest.

For hiring managers, the lack of a systematic way to manage candidates can lead to poor decisions, according to Scott Johnson, director of staffing and recruitment at water and filtration systems company Culligan International. "If you're getting thousands of e-mails, sometimes you resort to recruiting the last person who sent you a resumé," he says. Culligan will use a system from Vurv Technology to manage recruiting for what Johnson expects will be upward of 1,000 positions this year.

Human-resources professionals caution, though, that it's important not to use such systems to replace face-to-face meetings, which are vital for evaluating candidates or reviewing employees. "You want an efficient process," says Gary Short, senior consultant for talent management at paper-goods maker Kimberly-Clark, "but you want an effective process."

Besides finding the best of the bunch, talent management systems can also help weed out underperformers.

Two years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts found its old, manual review system to be of dubious value, says Ruth N. Bramson, the state's chief human resources officer. "Managers wanted to make everybody feel good, so every employee was rated 'exceptional,'" she says. To get more accurate ratings, Massachusetts rolled out SuccessFactors' performance management system, which agencies used to review 4,000 management-level employees at the end of 2005. (The state's other 66,000 workers are union members, who are reviewed under collective bargaining agreements.)

With the new system, Massachusetts now ties raises to annual reviews. That's resulted in a more normal bell-curve distribution of performance, according to Bramson. Supervisors have a discretionary 3% merit-pay budget to reward top performers. So now, instead of everyone receiving a standard yearly increase in pay, a certain number of state workers saw their wages go up by just 0.5%.

That, in turn, has resulted in some of those employees quitting. Bramson won't say how many, but she notes: "That's 'good' turnover."


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