From Best-Practices Performance Management to Next-Practices Talent Management

Article excerpt

AUHORIA

Today, a company's performance depends largely on its talent, and more and more companies are realizing that how they mange that talent is the critical link connecting the two. However, that balancing act can be a challenge and no one understands that better than one of the nation's leaders in diversified health care, dental, pharmacy, group life, disability, and long-term care insurance and employee benefits. Aetna views the strength of their people as their single most important competitive advantage.

Aetna leaders at all levels were being asked to do more strategic thinking and deliver on increasingly ambitious goals...all while harnessing the best work of employees every day. This "best practices" performance-management company is as innovative with their view of talent as they are with their products. Their vision was to build talent that was not only deep but also broad; to position every employee to excel in their present job; and prepare for their next role; and to focus on this development from the beginning of their careers right up through succession planning for Aetna's top jobs.

They were committed to building an organization of high-performers who possess: * the agility to seize new opportunities * flexibility to anticipate and respond to changing customer and business needs * motivation to achieve greater levels of success * breadth of experience needed to maintain that success.

To achieve this goal, Aetna realized they must think differently about how, when and where they tap into the unique talents and experiences of each individual. Sponsored by Aetna's CEO Ronald Williams, Rania Stewart, Project Manager in HR Talent Strategy Services, and her team at Aetna envisioned a Talent Management Initiative (TMI) to offer an innovative, more fully integrated approach to managing employee skills information so that the organization could fully leverage its talent. Their biggest challenge was not to improve the individual HR functions, many of which had been independently judged to be best practice, but to integrate these functions and improve sharing of information across the company. This new approach to talent management represented a significant cultural transformation. Some of Aetna's managers were concerned that making the "talent" within their groups more visible to the rest of the company would lead to loss of key personnel. "The challenge is to have leaders thinking, not about their talent, but about Aetna's talent," said Stewart. "If we do not ensure that our top talent has the ability to grow within the company, we risk losing them to the competition. The challenge is to have a workforce who takes charge of their own careers and leaders who develop and promote their talent-even if that means moving people to other parts of the company-to fill higher level jobs or gain skills required for top jobs in the future."

Solution

Stewart and her team set out to design and implement an enterprise-wide, talent management process which integrated their diverse systems and processes relative to the selection, assessment, development, performance management, recognition, deployment and retention of talent-all supporting Aetna's business strategy and workforce needs. …

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