This evening I had the pleasure of reading a great Harvard Business Review piece by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz highlighting the importance of great talent assessment skills. It’s a really fantastic read, and I recommend checking it out here.

With that said, there is one particular aspect of the article I want to talk about. From the piece:

…all too often organizations leave their most consequential people decisions to board members who may be experts in other business domains but who are woefully uneducated about and inexperienced in evaluating C-suite talent. Over the past few months, I’ve had many small-group meetings with the nominating committee chairs of some of the largest companies in the world. At each one, I asked how many attendees had studied the basic concepts of assessment. Typically, less than 30% answered in the affirmative, and sometimes no one did! Studies we’ve conducted at Egon Zehnder also show that most corporate directors have participated in no previous CEO succession, or just in one.

^This idea that people decisions are often made by those lacking in qualifications to make them well is a powerful idea. Companies such as Google and Amazon have tried to make the hiring process as objective as possible by taking the decision out of the hands of the hiring manager and building several rounds of assessment into the process (from folks that might not have a vest interest in the final outcome). Conversely, there are also companies like Imperial that heavily focus on interview training of hiring managers to ensure a strong assessment process.

Regardless of any individual employer’s process, however, one thing is certain: Companies should consider dedicating more resources to ensuring that they’re getting it right when it comes to reviewing talent. Because ultimately – be it at the C-Suite or entry levels – succession planning starts with great selection processes. Dedicating all the resources in the world to building strong talent pipelines, engaging talent once in the door, and pushing them through world class training programs for development purposes counts for very little if you aren’t putting the right people in key roles to begin with.

…I’ve been awfully in love with developing my competencies in the areas of compensation and labor/employment law lately… but at the end of the day any great Generalist – which is what I am – needs to be able to be able to (i) get great talent in the door, (ii) connect people within the organization, and (iii) paint a clear picture of the workforce (its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth).

To this point: I have filled nearly 200 jobs in the four years since I have entered the HR profession… but I don’t know that I am a great recruiter or assessor of talent. I have probably had more opportunities to become good at these things than I have anything else… but I haven’t yet taken a deliberative approach to becoming excellent in the space. I just didn’t appreciate the value of the skill set to being an elite HR person.

I think I’m going to change my approach

…More soon (and happy Friday).