To improve talent management, focus on communication

Specifically, employees want to know how their own progress is contributing to the company's overall goals and priorities.

Just 42 percent of people managers say their company has a way to measure goal alignment on an ongoing basis, and only 36 percent say that people on cross-functional teams are held accountable for their goals.

What do people managers think about their company’s talent management processes, tactics and initiatives?

“Needs Improvement” is the verdict for many, according to a Josh Bersin/Betterworks survey of more than 1,000 people managers.

It starts with their company’s lack of purpose, or at least one that is shared openly with employees — including managers, the respondents say.

Just 41 percent say that everyone at their company has a clear understanding of the company’s mission and vision. Slightly less (40 percent) said that “corporate, departmental and team goals are transparent and shared openly at all levels of the organization.” As for the managers themselves, 62 percent do not “have a clear understanding of the top company priorities” over the next 12 months.

Related: Workers don’t understand company goals

“It is not enough to simply communicate the top company goals; employees need to see how their own work goals connect with them and how what they do interconnects with what others are working on across the business,” the authors write. “In addition to transparent alignment, companies must also frequently and openly communicate the cross-functional progress towards these top company goals. This transparency increases accountability and facilitates necessary collaboration.”

However, just 42 percent have a way to measure goal alignment on an ongoing basis, and only 36 percent say that people on cross-functional teams are held accountable for their goals.

The survey also found that managers think their company’s performance management processes are lacking. A majority (59 percent) say managers and employees do not “perceive their performance management process as valuable;” 63 percent fail to have regular and discussions with employees “about their career growth and aspirations;” and only 43 percent are “held accountable for developing their people.”

“Managers must think more like coaches and provide regular performance-related feedback,” the authors write. “These conversations should be directly tied to the employee’s specific goals, while also exploring where the person can develop their skills.”

Many managers also say their own development path could be better. A third of managers (33 percent) rate their “company’s training and management development for leaders at all levels” as average or below;” 58 percent say their company still primarily rewards people “based on job level or tenure;” 41 percent say their company “regularly assesses overall business skills and capabilities through our performance process;” and just 40 percent say employees are “highly regarded in my company and management values employee’s opinions, needs, career and professional goals.”

“Managers need help from training and technology to become the talent coaches their business requires,” the authors write. “The performance process needs to be flexible enough to deal with the rise of cross-functional teams, while providing data that the business can use to analyze the makeup of existing teams and understand where skill gaps need to be filled.”

There is good news from the survey results: 38 percent of managers say their company’s performance management process includes at least some ‘continuous’ elements: goal setting, alignment, or continuous feedback and development.

“Given this percentage, it’s clear that “continuous performance management” has crossed the chasm into early majority and is on its way to becoming a standard business practice,” the authors write. “And for good reason…because it works, and it has a significant impact on multiple key indicators of overall business success.”

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