Everything Talent—Tips and Tools from the Talent Symposium - American Society of Employers - Anonym

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Everything Talent—Tips and Tools from the Talent Symposium

The Talent Symposium on August 11th was a resounding success. There were about 200 attendees in total, including exhibitors, presenters and ASE colleagues. The registrants represented HR leadership, HR business partners, generalists, and talent specialists. Attendees collectively rated the experience a 4.5 on a scale of 5. Most importantly, there was high energy and great sharing of ideas in the sessions and on the ASE app.  We’ve compiled a summary of each session with some key takeaways.


Morning Keynote - Strategic Leadership (Aaron Olson)
Aaron discussed the need for strategic thinking across organizations, not just at the executive levels.  Some key takeaways from his discussion were:

·       What is needed to think strategically:

o   Recognize patterns

o   Make good choices

o   Manage risk

·       We must ask “Why” 5 times to get to the root of a problem.

·       It’s not about an idea, it’s about getting it done (e.g., the Facebook story).

·       Organizations need to harvest the entire breadth of their workforce to stay competitive.


Attract the Right Talent (Jim VanBochove/John Arnold)

This breakout session in the talent acquisition track gave attendees some very applicable strategies for successful recruiting.  The speakers discussed how the purpose of recruitment is about finding excellent candidates that fit your organization well, not just warm bodies.  Key methods of attaining this goal are:


·       Utilize effective candidate screening methods (selection tests).

·       Step back and study what type of candidates you are looking for. Design and select a selection method that supports that.

·       When preparing for an interview, focus on “What information am I going to get and how am I going to evaluate it?”

·       When holding a job fair, be sure to invite only candidates that have already been screened for fit.

Learn Emotional Intelligence (Rob Pasick)
This talent development breakout session was highly interactive and engaging.  Rob showed us how various people fall differently on a scale of introvert vs. extrovert and how some of us adapt to change quicker than others.  Emotional Intelligence includes learning how to recognize and deal with these differences that we all have.  To improve your emotion intelligence:

·       Enhance self-awareness.

·       Set goals.

·       Be aware of emotional flooding.

·       Be aware of faulty thinking (bad thoughts = bad action).

·       Avoid counter attacking when you are criticized.

·       Proactively listen.

·       Seek first to understand others.

·       Know it is not always about you.


Building Agility on Old Foundations Won’t Work (Jim Rush)
In this talent management breakout Jim discussed how the notion of agility is to pay attention to opportunities and act on them.  Customers often provide opportunities, but we may tend to see them as “problems” because they are outside our usual way of doing things. Organization that lack agility tend to have too much hierarchy and are too narrowly focused.  To remain agile:

·       Look for patterns in the environment – generate and test “what-ifs.”

·       Continually question your assumptions – “Why am I doing what I am doing?”

·       Be hyper-vigilant – notice everything!

·       Have multiple responses for situations prepared and mentally practice them.

·       Rehearse scenarios and be ready to act on more than one (scenarios are different from contingency plans – there is usually only one contingency plan – there need to be several possible scenarios).

Build a Compelling Employee Value Proposition (Matt Bertman)
This talent acquisition breakout presented by Matt Bertman was both thought provoking and engaging.  He discussed how when companies work to build brand value and image, they should ensure that they are hiring employees who represent that image.  Tips include:

·       Ask questions during the interview stage that will probe for what drives the candidate.  Their responses should align with the organizations values. Are they interested in continuous learning? Are they motivated by work/life balance?

·       Highlight your company values in marketing campaigns and social media.  Share the culture so candidates can decide if it’s right for them. 

·       Companies should include background screens, professional and character references as part of the hiring process.  A candidate’s personal image can affect the organizations brand image. 

Build a Radically Collaborative Workplace (Jim Tamm)

In this talent development breakout Jim discussed the differences between red zone and green zone behavior.


Red Zone environments are internally competitive and toxic, and breed low production.

·       Low trust/high blame

·       Not creative

·       Have to pay people to stay

Green Zone environments are collaborative and highly productive.

·       High trust/low blame

·       Highly creative

·       People want to stay!


No organization is entirely a red zone or entirely a green zone.  There tends to be elements of both in most organizations.  Nothing will help you more at being collaborative than managing your own defensiveness.  Defensiveness does not protect us from other people. It defends us from fears we don’t want to feel.  Five essential skills for building collaborative work environments and relationships are:

1.     Collaborative intention: Are you furious or curious? Can you stay curious? Are you in the red zone or the green zone?

2.     Truthfulness: Are you being truthful? Can you be? Red zone environments are where no one talks or speaks up because they are afraid and not listened to.

3.     Self-accountability: You have to take responsibility for all actions.

4.     Self-awareness: The most important thing to be aware of is when you are becoming defensive. 

5.     Negotiating and problem solving: The other four have to be in place for this to be successful.

Distribute Leadership to Strengthen Your Organization (McLean & Company)
McLean & Company presented this talent management session and covered several key points:

·       The world is increasingly complex and dynamic leading to increased pressure on leaders.

·       Leaders often have a “bias to action” or a “hero mindset” which does not contribute to good decisions.

·       The skill set required to lead in the future is unknown.

·       Leaders must prepare to lead or create space for others to lead.

·       Key elements are Metacognition (dynamic learning mindset), Distributed Leadership (letting go of control), Network Activation (creating connections that produce benefits), and Influence.


Grow Your Own Talent (Jim Bitterle)

The final talent acquisition session of the day presented some interesting stats about talent.  There are currently 5,800,000 open positions in the U.S. today!  4,000,000 employees retire each year, and 9,000,000 people are looking for jobs.  The average turnover in U.S. companies is 16.4%.  Talent management needs to become a key strategic priority for businesses to succeed.  You can win the war on talent by:


·       Making talent development and talent management core organizational competencies.

·       Increasing employee retention by:

o   Connecting them to a purpose

o   Having a desirable culture

o   Providing clearly defined career paths

o   Being flexible (agile!)


Develop a Learning Culture (Teresa Moore and Amy Dewberry)
The final talent development breakout of the day provided examples and practical tips for “connecting the dots” in order to create a learning culture.  Tips provided included:

·       Know what is important to your organization. What is its purpose and vision?

·       Know what you want your company to represent and then create an action plan to communicate that.

·       Know your culture and the areas that need development.


Inclusion is Good Business (Starr Shafer)
This talent management final breakout session discussed the importance of managers seeking potential in their employees and “igniting the flame.”  Include employees in key discussions and value their input.  Employee engagement and inclusion go hand in hand.  Starr provide the following tips for creating an inclusive workplace:

·       Take note of the various workplace values employees have.

·       See different points of view.

·       Value employee opinions; don’t demean

·       Be approachable.

A key quote from this breakout was, “People join organizations, but they leave you.”


Afternoon Keynote – Develop Your Employees or Someone Else Will (Starr Schafer)
The afternoon keynote really rounded out the day on a great note.  Starr discussed the importance of developing your employees in order to retain them – Help them grow or watch them go.  Key points included:

·       Have conversations with your employees about their career.
o   Needs to be more than once a year in annual review

·       Simplify the conversation.

o   Help employees have hindsight

o   Help them identify their skills and strengths

o   Help them to have foresight – see down the road, see what’s happening in the organization

·       Say goodbye to “career ladder” and hello to “climbing wall”

o The top doesn’t always have to be the goal

o Employees can go up, down, sideways – depending on life stage and end goal

·       To learn and grow one needs:

o   Experience

o   Exposure

o   Education

Based on what we heard and saw, we are confident that the many ideas and tools presented at this year’s Talent Symposium will get applied rapidly in our member organizations. 


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