One of the easiest ways to get lapped in digital transformation is to focus so heavily on technology that you forget to focus on your people. After all, every technological change can cause ripple effects in how teams operate and the types of man-power support they need to run efficiently. It simply makes no sense to adopt new tech without also adopting new processes to go along with it. But for tons of companies in digital transformation today—and even those still lagging in joining the transformation process—a focus on using tech to support and strengthen talent management has remained unexplored. In my view—it’s time to use technology for better talent management.
As a leader, you should be constantly nurturing and enabling your talent—or employees—to grow and reach new heights for themselves and your company. Some managers are turning to “Talent Tech” to solve problems, hire new employees, fill open roles, staff projects, evaluate employees, and develop a talent pipeline. This is a great first step. But to ensure that you’re fully utilizing technology for better talent management, you’ll also want to keep the following in mind.
1: Use Talent Tech as a Problem Solver—Not a People Picker
Yes, talent tech is great at helping you hire better, stronger candidates. But that shouldn’t be the end of your talent tech journey. Instead of simply hiring/firing, think of technology as a means of solving problems within your company—specifically ones created by digital transformation! Allow front-line employees—not just C-suite execs—to share the issues they’re having—be it processing help tickets, responding to complex customer inquiries, or finding enough support staff on certain busy days. Then, research ways you can use talent tech to help with those specific problems. Truly: this is mission critical not just for fixing the problem, for successful tech adoption altogether.
2: Know Who Owns the Tech (Hint: It Isn’t HR)
Just because it has the word “talent” in the title, using talent technology for better talent management is not an “HR thing.” Those on the front lines are the first to recognize potential issues—and to think of potential ways technology might help. Yes, HR can enable, connect, allow, and elevate. But it should also step out of the way so that using technology for better talent management can actually take place. Case in point: your team has recognized that employees need faster feedback in their customer service calls to be able to do their job better. But your HR team has rules about how often employees should receive feedback—meaning the paper trail says you should only be meeting once per quarter. In this sense, HR needs to understand where to loosen the reigns so that the service team can work more efficiently. Otherwise, the processes aren’t keeping up with the people’s needs.
3: Start Small and Iterate
As I’ve said before, less is often more in digital transformation. The same is true in talent tech and using technology for better talent management. Rather than adopting a new technology enterprise-wide, choose a small group of able, representative employees to experiment with it first. See how it works in the real world. Take their feedback and iterate quickly. And be open to continuing those iterations as the tech rolls out enterprise wide. After all: the only thing worse than expensive technology is technology that no one is willing to use. And that is exactly what you’ll have on your hands if you aren’t willing to start small and iterate to meet the specific needs of your company and culture.
4: Build a Culture of Learning
Honestly—what could be more ironic than adopting talent tech that doesn’t have a two-way relationship with the tech it is helping manage? As such, you need to make sure that the technology isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s the start of a whole new culture of learning and caring about the needs of front-line employees and how to make their lives better. It’s about creating a culture of experimenting and learning—where employees look forward to ongoing feedback that helps them become better, stronger people, rather than feeling scared of their annual review! When you adopt technology for better talent management, this is the kind of culture you are able to build.
Now more than ever, it is possible to use technology for better talent management! Even more, it must be done. But for it to be effective, you’ll need to keep the above checks and balances in mind.
The original version of this article was first published on Future of Work.