Korn Ferry's RJ Heckman releases HR strategy book 'The Talent Manifesto'

22 February 2019 Consulting.us 4 min. read

Publisher McGraw-Hill has released "The Talent Manifesto," a book from Korn Ferry vice chairman Dr. RJ Heckman, an expert in talent management consulting and leadership development.

Heckman, currently based out of Korn Ferry’s Minneapolis office, has been helping companies develop effective talent strategy and leadership for 25 years. Before joining Korn Ferry in 2013, Heckman was president and CEO at Minneapolis-based leadership consulting firm PDI Ninth House, which was acquired by Korn Ferry in late 2012. Heckman has advised many of the world’s top organizations, and has served as internal HR leader for two Fortune 50 companies. He holds a PhD in industrial organizational psychology from The University of Tulsa.

Heckman's book, "The Talent Manifesto," is aimed at helping CEOs and chief human resource officers redesign their talent strategies to achieve success in today’s rapidly evolving business market.

In the book, Heckman labels three essentials of a successful firm’s “talent waltz.” First, they need to precisely determine what talent is needed to build a winning strategy. They then must manage that talent with advanced data analytics, before developing simple and fast talent processes.

Many firms, unfortunately, don't get their talent strategy right – if they did, there wouldn’t be much of a market for consultants like Heckman. Companies often fail to realize that some employees are more valuable than others – and treat them accordingly, Heckman says. In other cases, firms fail to get the quantity or quality of people needed for pivotal roles.

Korn Ferry's RJ Heckman releases HR strategy tome

“Problems may also occur when collecting data using unreliable or invalid methods only to learn later that the data is useless and cannot predict or explain business outcomes,” Heckman wrote in a blog post on McGraw-Hill’s website. With so many consultants and strategists advocating a data-augmented approach to nearly every challenge, companies clearly have to make sure they’re getting the right information and interpreting it correctly. Merely implementing some advanced analytics program and calling it a day isn’t enough — companies must do their due diligence to make sure they are collecting good data.

The book advocates getting talent management right by focusing on strategy, data, speed, and simplicity. Part of this means leveraging artificial intelligence to help recruiters get the ideal candidates at the point of hire. Some of these emerging technological methods are statistically predictive of successful performance of new hires. Although this might not sit well with seasoned recruiters who have developed instinctive “gut feelings” as to what makes a good candidate, it is difficult to argue with stats, figures, and algorithms.

As mentioned above, another important change is to modify reward practices to incentivize the people making the biggest differences in the company’s success, rather than equally spreading tiny increases. According to Heckman, this focused reward process reminds employees that the workplace is a meritocracy, while also motivating the success engines within the organization. In other words, coffee is for closers.

Relatedly, discovering what engages individuals – especially in pivotal management roles – is important to successful talent strategy. A company needs to give its high performers and high-potential employees the things they need to get things done and stay focused. To take a well-worn sports strategy, you have to know who your superstars are, then pay them so they stay and do their job. The complementary pieces of the team are less important, especially working within a cap system in which you don’t have the luxury of splurging on non-core pieces. Pay your stars - and make sure they’re happy - because they are the basis on which championships are won.

RelatedWant the perfect candidate? Be psychic, says Korn Ferry