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March Madness: Coaching, Talent Management, and Keeping the Best Team on the Court

Neil ReichenbergThe following post is courtesy of one of our newest board members, Neil Reichenberg.  Neil is the Executive Director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR).  IPMA-HR is a nonprofit membership organization representing public sector human resource managers and professionals, undertaking research on human resource issues, as well as providing professional development, education, and information on pending legislation and regulations affecting HR issues.

March Madness started early for me this year, as I caught seven men's college basketball games in three days at a conference tournament. During the hoopla, I thought about the importance of talent management (perhaps heightened since my Terps did not win the championship), whether it is for a college basketball team or an employer in any sector of the economy. While it is important to recruit and select the best available talent, ensuring that, once selected, they are developed, engaged, and led effectively are critical to success.

Having worked for the past 35 years for a human resources association whose members are employed in human resource management in the public sector, I know that the governmental sector faces the same challenges as the private sector. The public sector also faces the additional challenges of fewer employees than prior to the start of the recession, continuing budget pressures, growing citizen demands, an aging workforce resulting in a large number of retirements, and increasing criticism from political leaders. Government at all levels provide critical services that impact everyone and they need to remain employers of choice in order to continue to provide services in ever challenging environment.

A recent report, “Creating People Advantage in the Public Sector,” which was released by the Boston Consulting Group, stated that “many countries are experiencing a crisis in public-sector human resource management stemming from mounting pressures on a number of fronts.” The report calls for government to take steps to enhance the ways in which they recruit, train, and manage talent and for those working in human resource management to become strategic partners. The three areas the report found requiring urgent action in public sector HR are: 1) talent management and leadership, 2) engagement, behavior, and culture management, and 3) HR strategy planning and analytics.

These challenges are similar to those found in several research projects undertaken by the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) where I work. To highlight a few:

  • Despite the growing number of retirements, our 2014 benchmarking report found that only 27% indicated that their organizations have succession plans in place, with a lack of both time and resources being the biggest barriers to developing succession plans.
  • Our 2015 benchmarking report looked at whether HR is a strategic business partner and those responding to the survey identified analytical and cross-functional business skills as the ones that HR practitioners need most now and in the future. However, the time spent on human resource analytics occupies the least amount of time spent on any HR activities.
  • Our 2014 employee engagement research of US state and local government employees found that only 47% of state and local government employees are fully engaged in their jobs.

Following my first board meeting with The Workforce Institute in December, it's apparent that many of these same pain points from the public sector - talent management, training, succession planning, engagement, and use of analytics - are echoed in the private sector.

How are organizations - private or public - combatting these challenges? We'd love to hear what you're working on to prepare for the future.

Share your insights!

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