Talent optimization is a new discipline that aligns people strategy with business strategy to produce optimal business results. In this “Provider Profile” series, I showcase companies who are delivering the promise of talent optimization.
The talent optimization discipline includes four aptitudes: Design, Hire, Inspire, and Diagnose. The Inspire aptitude centers on an organization’s leaders and team members. It includes techniques that ensure that an organization’s employees - its “leaders at every level” - are able to produce optimal business results while creating the best possible employee experience.
The first Inspire activity is to create new jobs and career paths. In the Ultimate Guide to Talent Optimization, I stressed this activity’s importance when I wrote “as your organization grows and matures, you’ll need to create new jobs to execute your strategy”. This type of organizational growth is the hallmark of thriving companies. New jobs and roles present opportunities to engage, stretch, and reward high performers which creates long-term employee loyalty and retention.
Creating new jobs and promoting or re-assigning employees are not the only ways to meet an organization’s needs and those of its workers simultaneously. High performers who are hungry for growth and investment seek a variety of ways to serve the organization while deepening their skill sets. This can be accomplished through ancillary project assignments, mentoring relationships, work-sponsored volunteer opportunities, and other win-win options.
Unfortunately, too few workers are finding that they have such opportunities.
A recent study from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Deloitte Insights found that a mere 39% of executives reported being happy or even satisfied with their organization’s investment in their opportunities for improvement. For rank-and-file employees, the sentiment is even bleaker with only 29% reporting the same level of satisfaction.
Source: MIT Sloan School of Management and Deloitte Insights
Executives and employees who are dissatisfied with their opportunities to develop valuable skills while serving the organization’s needs are more susceptible to being lured away by another organization that promises career growth.
Leaders who intend to retain top talent while meeting their rapidly shifting business objectives need to address this critical gap.
Fortunately, new technologies and techniques are emerging to do just that. “Opportunity marketplaces” are beginning to connect individuals with on-the-job activities that can satisfy a high performer’s appetite for growth while they contribute to the organization’s bottom line.
This type of win-win partnership is all the more critical in the current economic climate. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Deloitte’s Robin Jones and Ina Gantcheva noted that “Opportunity marketplaces have emerged as a powerful tool for organizations affected by the pandemic, allowing them to manage real-time workforce supply and demand to increase organizational agility.”
Through the lens of talent optimization, an ideal opportunity marketplace must include three key components:
- Alignment. Talent optimization holds that all people activities take place within the business context. Opportunities to develop and grow on the job must directly connect to the organization’s business needs.
- Transparency. Talent optimization work is done in the broad light of day. Leaders shouldn’t quietly award opportunities to their favored team members. They should publicize opportunities in a way that’s available to all applicable growth seekers.
- Agency. Talent optimization demands that leaders at every level be self-aware and accountable for their performance and work experience. An opportunity marketplace can “open a door”, but the employee must take the initiative to follow through by expressing their interest to be considered for a given opportunity.
Structural is a software company that has provided organizations with a dynamic, mobile-friendly people directory based on data-rich employee profiles since its inception in 2017. Structural is used by a number of Predictive Index clients because it brings PI data directly into the employee profile that is searchable within the directory.
Recently, the company announced the release of its Internal Opportunity Marketplace.
Structural's Internal Opportunity Marketplace
During a conversation with Structural CEO and Co-Founder Scott Burns, he told me that the marketplace can feature “any opportunity to connect, contribute, learn, or advance“. Structural users can quickly create, categorize, tag, and post opportunities. Employees can view each opportunity’s requirements and filter opportunities to meet their current capabilities and developmental interests.
An opportunity could be simple and require only a few hours of time: “Help me analyze a large set of customer survey data.” Other opportunities may be more involved and longer in duration: “Serve as a project manager for next quarter’s key initiative.” Still others could be highly specialized or time-sensitive: “Need help translating a support ticket that was submitted in Italian.”
Sample Marketplace Opportunity on Mobile
Flexibility is a key feature when considering an opportunity marketplace technology. In a deep dive product tour, Structural’s Chief Technology Officer Ron Lancaster noted that “all opportunity fields are customizable for your organization, and you can use your own terminology that is consistent with your organization.“
Structural’s Internal Opportunity Marketplace appears to check all three talent optimization requirements:
1 - Alignment with business requirements through on-the-job activities
2 - Transparency through its dashboard and search features
3 - Agency through requiring employees to express their interest in available opportunities
About the Author
Matt Poepsel, PhD, is Vice President of Partner Growth at The Predictive Index and "The Godfather of Talent Optimization”, serving as the chief architect of this new discipline that aligns talent strategy with business strategy to deliver optimal business results.
Matt writes and speaks regularly on a variety of topics including talent strategy, team dynamics, leadership and leader development, employee engagement, organizational culture, performance psychology, and productivity.