Mastering Data-Driven Talent Reviews: Turning Insights Into Action

Amidst the backdrop of uncertainty and the ever-fluctuating external landscape, forward-thinking people leaders recognize that the cultivation of top talent from within their organization can be the ultimate game-changer. And the key to cultivating said top talent lies in data-driven talent reviews.
In this episode:
  • Why talent reviews are critical to businesses today
  • Common mistakes when approaching talent reviews
  • Best practices for measuring potential
  • How to create transparency around talent reviews

About the speakers

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A big hello to all our beloved people and culture practitioners delighted to have you join us today for the fourth episode of the performance puzzle where we're gonna talk about all things talent reviews.

I'm your host GC. People science leader at mesh dot ai and someone who considers himself extremely blessed to have worked with and learned from hundreds of people and culture leaders over the last fifteen years.

When it comes to solving for business performance through their people, modern companies find themselves almost rebuilding the planer as they're flying it. With that said, the future is already here. It's just unequally distributed.

And that's where the performance puzzle hopes to come in. A show where people leaders from around the world volunteer their experiences and playbooks to help you navigate the intersection of people's strategy and business success.

Joining us today are two absolute jedis of talent management.

Both are experts have more than three decades of experience across various industries and geographies each.

They've both been multiple times CHROs and chief people officers. And interestingly enough, they both honed their craft first as talent management practitioners and leaders.

It is an absolute honor for me to introduce you to and invite on the show and in no particular order, Tracy Dawn, a global HR leader with diverse experience of leading large scale complex, multi, business, and talent transformations across various industries.

Even then, what the Forbes HR Council will tell you and something that instantly made me a fan of Tracy is her belief in progress and simplicity over perfection.

She's led all of these transformations with one keen insight of keeping things practical, implementation first, and an approach that is inclusive data driven and grounded in people's science.

If you're curious to look at more of Tracy's work, I'd highly encourage you to visit tracey dot dot com.

Our second expert is Simon Thuel Biggers, who is literally a citizen of the world, having been responsible for leading HR teams in North America, Asia, Europe, and having lived and worked cities like Princeton, Paris, London, Copenhagen, and the list keeps on going.

What I personally endure about Simon and as his creator profile on LinkedIn where he's quite active, will tell you, is that he loves to talk about love and compassion when it comes to designing talent management practices.

A powerful insight based on decades of hands on experience.

Welcome to the show, Tracy and Simon. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you, GC. Thank you.


Folks in the audience, obviously, we're here for you. Now is a good time for you to check out three cool features on the nav bar of your screen right at the bottom. First up, the chat where I'd encourage you to share your thoughts, opinions, and experiences as you listen into our speakers right through the show.

The poll section where you'll be able to consume results from our live polls, which will keep popping up at the right time throughout the period of the show. And last but not the least, the questions section, where you I'd highly encourage you to post questions to us speakers as they come up to your mind when you hear their insights through the course of the show.

As the moderator, I'll try my best to weave in these questions at the right point in the conversation, no pressure.

Now, obviously, I've had the privilege of interacting with both Simon and Tracy, and I'm amply aware that I'll need to do a really, really good job to help unpack their super deep perspectives on talent reviews in the next fifteen minutes or so. But what should help us actually cover good ground is As you can imagine, the tight agenda for the show that we have.



So I'll just quickly give the newer members of our audience who haven't attended previous performance puzzle shows a quick overview of how we're gonna structure the conversation. We're gonna kick things off by trying to do a discovery of why now and what's broken possibly segue that into helping all of you learn from Simon and Tracy to carve out your own very personalized talent review playbook.

Obviously, design only accounts for half the battle So we will segue that into the deliver section and right through the conversation, try and get practical insights from Simon and Tracy around how to implement and drive the change that's needed. And if we have time left, I'm gonna take up any questions that up in the question section from the audience right at the end of the show if I haven't been able to pick them up through the course of the show itself.

So without further ado, Let's jump right in and unpack the keen insights that we can learn from from both our expert speakers.


Why are talent reviews even more necessary and critical to business today?


off the bat, Simon, as you'd know better than anyone else, talent reviews have been around in various shapes and forms for decades now. Why are they even more necessary and critical to business today?

Thanks for the question. And I would say they've always been very important. And I think they're also very important at least where I've been, because working in knowledge organization where you can say people are really the most important sort of, ground material for success.

Of course, we need to make sure that we have a a a very, precise and clear all your water what where our talents, and and what are the next steps. And I would also say when you ask the question, why is it even more important?

I would say, at least what I've seen on a think a lot of the awkward audience also have seen is that turnover is is is definitely going up especially in in some areas, especially where I am in tech we see the turnover going up, and it's extremely expensive to, to hire new people. So so so that's part of it. And maybe last, but not least, and and then I'm sure Tracy would also add to this. I also see that, you know, people are are looking for new opportunities faster than, what at least I've been used to if I go back in my time, in career. They they're looking to new opportunities. So we have to have the finger on the pulse for what the our tenants are looking for so they don't start looking outside and and legal us because that's a very, very costly and and also not something we want to drive. So that's that's, for me, some of the most important parts of why this is so needed now, but, of course, also, I've been in for a long time.

Tracy, any any insights in the recent past from all of that rich consulting work that's making you, kind of know, look at talent reviews even more strategically today.

Sure. Sure. I completely agree with everything Simon just shared. The, the one thing that I would add which I think expands upon his point and answers your question around why now? Is it even more important? Is the fact that in a post COVID world, We have a very large geographically dispersed workforce even more so than we had in the past. And it's so easy now for employees might be able to work from home or have more of a hybrid schedule to jump from company to company.

Because they can very easily switch employers without have to do much other than use our keyboard or a Zoom call.

It's it's just so much easier now. To, to make a change. And so it's even more important for companies to know who their talents are.

And to match that talent with the skills that they need now and in the future so they can develop that talent obtain that talent, engage that talent so that they can, reduce that turnover that Simon referred to.

Like I suspected, I'm gonna go out on a limb and try and kind of paraphrase some of that because there were some very telling business needs and some very telling talent needs from today's perspective. What I heard both of you say is, hey, Hiro Turner was going up. Hot skills are getting more and more expensive. Top talent is looking at newer opportunities faster.

Obviously, now that they're spread geographically, it's easier for them to get newer experiences than it ever was in the past.

And therefore, the best competitive advantage that a business can have is growing its own internal talent faster before the competition does in more ways than one.


What are the common misconceptions or mistakes organizations make when they're approaching talent reviews?


Alright. With that particular burning platform set, I'm keen to understand what are the common misconceptions and let's start with you, Tracy, that even after so many years of evolution, under talent reviews themselves, what are the common misconception missteps or misstate you see organizations make when they're approaching talent reviews.

Sure. It's a great question. I I've seen whole gamut of things across the board.

Misconceptions and mistakes. I think the most shocking conception that I heard and this was, even within the last couple of years was a belief that talent reviews were intended to, what's the right word? I guess limit career opportunities of those who were in, the minority populations, women and people of color.

Really surprising to hear that that was a perception that, a very senior leader had that the goal of a talent review was really just to keep promoting the same, group of people, typically white men.

That was a a bit of a surprising misconception. I think mistakes that I've seen repeated over and over again in organizations is, spending a lot of time placing people in boxes and spending a lot of time debating which box someone goes in and what the definition of that box is and if the word is end or or and if it and they belong here if it was or they belong there. You know, certainly you have to start somewhere, and it really all depends on the maturity and sophistication of your process and your organization.

A mistake that I see is that companies spend too much time there and not enough time on what are we doing act actually with these individuals to help them develop and and make sure that we're matching them with, either the roles or the skills that we need in the organization.

I I love both of them and and I know, you know, it's it's possibly a conversation for another day to kind of unpack both of those because they are such deep insights in themselves. But I'll summarize that, Tracy, before I kind of throw it on to you, Simon. First up, the perception of folks in the business or the business leaders and managers around talent reviews, has taken a beating, to the extent where most recently Tracy, you you actually heard or saw a view of a manager that mentioned, hey, it's about progressing people with privilege, which is absolutely shocking. So my takeaway there if I have to kind of look at talent reviews and and and upgrading them in my organization is, hey, first work on the communication to manage the perception of why talent reviews exist in the organization.

I love that. And the second one, I have seen that time and time again, which is too much arithmetic, too much mathematics in ensuring that people are landing up in the right box, be that a four six nine ten twelve sixteen box and very little conversation in terms of personalizing the development journey from there. Two very powerful common missteps or mis mistakes Simon, any others that you'd like to add to those two powerful ones that Tracy shared?

Yeah. Well, I I think there is one thing. And, of course, we're discussing also today a playbook of of and and I will, though, have to say that a tenant will also have to be made so it fits the organization. I don't think you do a a tenant with the same way. I don't do a tenant do in the same way I do here in Maestone as I did in Norman or it's it's different companies, and they do tend to serve different needs. So I think that's also important that no one else on this call sits and believe there's only one way to do it. There there's probably many ways to do it, and we need to have really a look into the culture and the organization fit.

And then, of course, the other one, which is a very classical one, that this is a once a year, tick box exercise, and then we, we go away from it. That's, of course, unfortunate, something we see happens, and, and, of course, that's not, how this works.

And in the last, part. And I know that's also part of, some of the discussions they, oh, some manager say it's very time consuming. And my answer to that without being arrogant because I don't want to is that, you know, it is your most important asset. It is your people.

So, you know, the time you spend that is you it should be a lot of your time. Spending on your talents, discussing your talents, having an idea of what to do next and so on and so forth. So I think also there is some kind of notion of what this is, And I agree to what Tracy said. If we start to have that long discussion and when we put people in a box, then I understand it's time consuming.

But if you start with the quality of your people and take it from there, then it's definitely what you need to do as an organization. So so that would be some of the things I would I would point to.

As you can imagine, I'm furiously making notes here because I'm a student as well.

You know, a couple of things that really jumped out at me there, Simon were many, many practitioners sometimes take the easy route of copy pasting, a successful talent tribute from a known organization and trying to make it their own.

But as, you know, and and this is not something that's limited to talent reviews. So I think today we live in a day and age by personalizing the experience down to every every person in the organization almost like a workforce of one. So that's really where we need to work backwards on the design of our talent review approach.

The once a year, one and done talent review, absolutely something that, you know, we'll we'll try and unpack in terms of how we can address that or how you know, companies can do something all through the year because it makes so much sense. And I've personally seen a small clutch of organizations actually move into real time talent reviews every time they have a critical position that opens up. So that's where the world's kind of met, which is on demand talent reviews.

And yes, Certainly something that has has kind of popped up many a times in my past career as well is business leaders complaining that this is just a time sink because I guess this relates back to the objective and the perception of talent reviews, you know, that us as a talent management community need to fix and and make our business leaders aware around. Perfect.

As, like, not surprising at all, when we reached out to our community, you know, we we also realized and and understood that while a lot of the symptoms and the pain points that people look at fixing they actually experience when they're in a low quality or poor talent review meeting or conversation itself. But the root causes of those you know, live before and after that particular talent review.


Designing the playbook for talent reviews


I'm gonna segue into our next section, which is the heart of the show, which is designing the playbook you know, for talent reviews. But before I do that, just for our audience to kind of get a handle on how we're going to be going through this is, like I mentioned, A lot of what we heard from the community, you know, that we work with is a lot of pinpoints of what were the complaints during the talent review, why the quality of the talent review meeting was suffering.

But as we stretch beneath the surface and look deeper into the root causes, everything begins at the beginning of the year in terms of, alright, how do I set up my calendar interview for success later this year?

And definitely how do I close the loop after the talent review? Something that we heard Tracy also looped to as one of the common mistakes that company is gonna So as we design our playbook, we're gonna kind of get Tracy and Simon to share insights for you to take back what your playbook should look like in the run up to a talent review during a talent review meeting a conversation and subsequent or post a talent review.

And that brings us to our design section.


Jumping right in, and we can begin with you, Simon.


If I want to run talent views this year and get the most out of them, what should I start thinking about right from day zero?


I want to run calendar views this year and get the most out of them, what should I start thinking about right from day zero?

I think you may be looking back to what I said before. I think you you need to, you need to maybe take some time with the senior management. I don't know where you are in the organization, but I would take discussion also to get an understanding of what are they looking for?

And then, of course, I will look into your the agenda of the organization, see what are we are we in need of? I would say, for example, here, where I am in a tech organization, where we are only we're doing software. So it's people only. So so I would say we we we have we are we are in need for making sandwiches for everyone.

We don't do it for a a certain, percentage of the community. We do it for everyone. So that's a design, criteria. Maybe some other organization where we work before would would look for a certain certain part of the community to to do challenging for.

So I will start with that and have a look at, you know, what is the organization, what is the management need what would they really like to, to, to get out of a ten million. So you, so you can start posting those questions and also be ready to deliver, on the answer. And and I think, of course, I mean, it makes sense to look into what kind of model would you use, because that's also where we start to create the language around, around the things. I think you pointed to to some of the issues that we don't have, you know, the same definition.

And I I would say let's not spend too much time on getting there because I don't think we will ever get there. On the other hand, we also need some kind of a model that that sort of brings us us together so we don't sit and discuss in in Eastern West without having the same same day and living. So I would start with understanding the culture, the leadership, the organization, and then start saying, okay, here is here is the model. Let's let's try to get, also the organization familiar, with those kind of things.

That that's where where I would start, I think.

What I hear you say, Simon is, hey, does your business today need to develop a leadership pipeline internally Does it need to plug in certain hot skills for roles that have come up in the recent past that it doesn't have? And that's really kind of articulating the objective of your talent reviews this year based on what the business needs, very powerful place to start.

Subsequent to that The second insight you mentioned is, hey, there needs to be a common framework that is not just understood by the talent management experts sitting in a center of excellence, but it needs to be equally well understood by business leaders and people managers.

And I think the insight there that you shared, was very, very powerful, which is keep it light, have data for the framework to facilitate the conversation, but don't obsess over too much data because that can completely complicate the experience of the conversation.

Before I dive deep into some of those, I'm gonna segue over to Tracy, what are the other critical elements that one should be thinking about Tracy, you know, right at the right off the bat at the beginning of the year.

Sure. So in addition to all the wonderful insights that Simon shared, I would say I always like to start with the end in mind. What are the outcomes that you're looking for? What is the goals of this talent process?

And I think the other key part that you really need to think about upfront is the experience that the people, will have who are participating in the talent review or who are the subjects of the talent review, and that leads to What is the level of transparency?

What will you communicate? When will you communicate? How will you communicate?

One of the biggest mistakes I've seen organizations make is they don't think that through. And then you have an inconsistent experience with those who are participating in in the talent review and those who are the subject of the talent review. And you may also have perceptions of what's going on behind closed doors. What does this mean? Is there going to be a reduction in force?

And it can really, turn into a negative experience when, your your intent might have been extremely positive going in.

Super, super powerful there, Tracy. And if I can stay with you there, Tracy, then, you know, this this common definition common framework, which was common from, you know, what I Simon and then you kind of elaborate on.


What are the most common pillars for aggregating data or facilitating conversations that I should start socializing across my business today?


know, what what are the most common kind of pillars, for, let's say, aggregating data of facilitating conversations that I should start socializing across my business today. The most common ones that all of us have kind of over engineered our performance and potential if I can ask a loaded question.

But are there any others? If not, then what are the simple lightweight ways in which organizations can kind of tap into existing data sources to get some sort of a handle around, let's say, performance potential or any other pillar?

Sure. Well, I think it's important, to look at the demographic.

Of the population that you'll be discussing. Right? In terms of race, gender, ethnicity, obviously, where it's legal to do so.

I think it's really important to understand the demographics of your employee population and to really understand, if the population that's being identified as a top talent or an emerging talent or whatever labels or, descriptors you're going to use, are they representative of the demographic of your organization overall. So that's some of the data that I think is really important to look at.

I think really making sure that you understand employees' career aspirations.

A huge mistake going in could be you assume that Jamie wants to be the next GM. When Jay and E doesn't, she wants to do something else. So really understanding the career aspirations of those employees and making sure that's reflected in the conversation.

Perfect. So, first up, A keen data point, if you don't have it, if you're running your talent reviews in some ivory tower somewhere, what you lack is the individual's own aspiration. And as we learned from the discovery part of the conversation, they'd like to be in the driver's seat to choose what experiences they'd like. So that's critical data points that needs to start coming in. And the other piece, you know, that I love, which I heard is the aspect of unconscious bias, right, Tracy, if we don't kind of look at even through the talent review conversation, we kind of more biased, inadvertently so towards certain demographic populations versus the others, those need to be reflected in the conversation so that we can take the necessary course correction before we roll up the results of our talent review itself. So super, super powerful insights. Simon, any other kind of pillars of conversation that I should start planning, you know, having some sort of data or input around right now.

Depends if you've done it before. I would say, if you've done it before, you probably also know a little bit about, you know, for example, if and that's what we try to do, you use the the nine grid models. You can have a look at those people that actually wear or are looking to transition. Are they also haven't they have they transitioned from from from one year or maybe for six months to another, do we actually see some progression in in those people that we believe are there, and you can say high performance or you can say those who actually able to to move on to the next one.

So that's that's that's, of course, I mean, important, but I would also add to to what Tracy said. You know, we we actually also look into our nine grid with all of these diversity factors. And also to see, is there any way of looking into, okay, we actually put more I don't know, men in in the higher bracket or whatever. So so that's also, of course, that's a checking in on on our ability to to perform the, tenant without any bias offering.

That that's that's that's part of it. And then the last bit is, of course, to measure some progress, what what's going on. Are we actually, are we actually seeing some progress and and and get that at the leaders as well to see if they are actually also able to to, to develop the people, and develop those that they actually put into the to the time they do. So I would say that those are some of the things that you can do if you've done it before.

Yeah. No.

I love that particular piece, which is a multi year or a multicycle trend of how this particular individual has performed across various roles.

Would both of you kind of say a common source could be, let's say, any sort of a performance assessment that you kind of already run Can can practitioners looking at running talent reviews dip into that data for performance? Is that like a good place so that they don't end up creating their own new data source?

Yes. I I think keeping it simple and not overly, burdening the participants with a lot of extra steps to the process.

Is always a better way to go especially if you want to get them on board with the process and, get their support for it. Multi source feedback it can also be a very helpful piece of data.

Because oftentimes a manager's point of view is just that a point of view. And so having other sources of feedback, that you can use as data points, for the conversation can be very helpful.


Would you say that 360s or multi-stakeholder crowdsourced feedback is that much more critical of a data point with a diverse and geographically spread population where you don't have the luxury of physical proximity?


would you say that with a with a kind of diverse and a geographically spread population where you don't have the luxury of physical proximity three sixties or multi, you know, multi stakeholder crowdsourced feedback. Is that much more critical at data point?

I think so. I think if you are a global organization, if, you are geographically dispersed, if your employees are working maybe in agile scrum teams or in multiple projects, you know, I I think the the latest statistic I saw from Gartner was man managers and employees, managers and direct reports spend about twenty percent of their time together. So employees are spending eighty percent of their time working with others other than their managers. Their manager has a very limited perspective and view of their performance.

Absolutely. Simon. Yeah. I would I would also add I I completely agree to what Tracy said, but I think also there is, of course, a a limit to what all those kind of measurements can can do.

And I I I do I want to say here also the the calibration management teams, that are -- they are also very valid data points and having the discussion. They, of course, managers do not know all of the people in in others organization, but they do have a discussion on what they see.

I'm here. We also talk a lot about behaviors, of course, So that's also something they can have a discussion and and and and and activate date themselves on that. So when we talk about, again, back to nine grid model, we talk about high potential or medium potential, what is the difference there? And again, I don't want to have a loan discussion that, but I still have that kind of standing of what is that we see in an individual that makes him or her hypotension.

And we want to put, that guy or that that that a female up to, to a certain grade. So I think that also is extremely important that we take that into consideration.

So Yeah. That was just an extra data point, which is maybe more a dialogue, but but, very valid. Yeah. I and and Simon, I'm gonna come back that in a lot more detail with both Tracy and you, when we talk about, you know, setting up the meeting itself for success.

But just summarizing there, we've, you know, one piece, we've looked at what are the data points that you should kind of look at existing data sources for, have that together I think we've talked about performance. We've seen a performance in various roles over a multiple period, you know, multiple year periods so that you can actually take the entire career trajectory into account while having that conversation.


What are some best practices for measuring potential?


one common question that very often kind of, you know, is is a common kind of ground for debate. Is measuring potential.

Any any common practices that, you know, come to mind, Tracy, any kind of best practices on how organizations can have a organization by common kind of standard or a yardstick where people understand and are able to fairly assess what potential means that you've seen work out well?

Well, I'd I'd like to answer by going back to the point. Simon made in the very beginning about you have to understand your culture.

You have to really understand where you are in terms of your process? Are you new to it? Are you more experienced?

Have you been doing this for a long period of time? There are many many assessments out there that you can use.

I think you have to be aligned as an organization on what potential means and that is gonna look different in every organization. There is, not gonna be a common definition of potential that runs across all industries, all companies So I think spending some time getting alignment around that. It usually is a set of behaviors that you expect to see, a set of a set of skills.

There's the corn fairy model. Right? There's all of these different models that you can look at. But, to the point Simon made earlier, and I think he made earlier, it not a lift and shift.

You have to really look at what makes sense for your organization based on your culture and your goals. But I do think that once you can come up with a definition that works for you and you can get alignment on that. It can be a useful tool in terms of identifying potential, what that really looks like. One of the, things that I personally believe is part of that definition of potential that is very important is learning agility.

And, that is something that has been identified, by many, external vendors who specialize in assessments and in doing a lot of research around potential and and what that looks like in organizations learning agility is, often cited as one of the critical components of potential to really know if someone can be identified as a high potential. You know, can they learn from experiences, usually experiences that they never had before by applying, similar experiences they had in the past, and those who can do that, who have that kind of learning agility, are often those who stand out as being those who have a high potential.

But what do you think Simon not an easy answer. Absolutely, Simon.

Well, I think I think you're right. I was actually, we actually did some some it was not a such a scientific survey, but we actually did a a survey on, on learning an ability to learn. And we can see that there is a clear sort of connection also to the people that and, of course, you can say, yeah, you're biased because you do that, and then you also promote people. But there is also a tendency that we see more of those people not necessarily moving into promotion, but moving on because they are eager to learn.

They're eager to, to try new things. They want to, to, continue development, and some take sidestep and some takes, steps up. So so I think I think that's, that's that's a very great way to, look at it. We also do, which is a very simple thing again, but I guess, simple is also good.

We we do a lot of, of workshops before ten, where we also we we gather leaders, and some are more mandatory, some are less where we discuss cases, and we discuss cases of, of potential. And and then we discuss it back and forth. And then, you know, there's ways different opinions. And and I guess also to your point, Tracy, we will never get to a if this definition of everybody says, yes, that's it.

And then I know how to do it. But, you know, the more we have that discussion, the more we also get to understand what we mean by by by, you know, really a high potential and what what it means to us in our organization, how we how we nurture it, but also how we see it.

Alright. I'm gonna go out on a limb because it's my job to summarize that in a flow, but we started off by trying to get handle on how organizations can have a common definition or yardstick around potential.

Tracy, what I heard you say is, hey, get a The science around this has been solved for. You can have behaviors, values, skills, sometimes called the competency rubric.

You can start off with an existing dictionary that exists, but it's very critical to contextualize that to your business, to your career parts, to your particular industry and skills that is required.

You know, once that's kind of done, then you have a handle on that, is when you can start kind of possibly running crowdsourced three sixties to assess people's values, behaviors, or skills as their peers and colleagues see there are assessments out there as well. You know, sometimes off the shelf, sometimes you can bring in consulting firms who have a framework who can run those assessments typically, I've seen that work well in setups where talent reviews are run for a smaller part of the population than the whole population, but then the three sixty is what I heard you say is how you can scale it in house as well.

And subsequent to that, I think very, very critical what I love with what Simon mentioned, is getting your leaders into a room in a workshop format and getting them some batting practice or some swinging practice to see whether they swim or sync per se, and then kind of coaching them when they feel safer because it's a dry run rather than kind of pushing back on some of the biases or bad habits or lack of awareness that they might have in the actual talent from your meeting. That is so, so powerful as a simple kind of an actionable step that organizations can take.

Sure. And and if I could if I could add another point, the focus on potential may or may not be relevant. For your organization in terms of where you are. I can give you a very quick example in an organization that I worked at several years ago in the talent review discussion The CEO kept referencing terms like influencer Connector.

And so it became really clear to us in the discussion that it was more important to have the behaviors and skills of an influencer and a connector than it was to have what was previously identified as high potential. And so we stopped, we paused, and we said, well, what does an influencer and connector look like to us. And we categorize or define that, and then we use that to define a small group of individuals that we believed we're going to be our future leaders that we would develop and invest in. I love that.

So organizations can possibly simplify the definition or potential, you you you don't need a multi year competency framework design process. If it's important for your business, you can identify connector roles through organization network analysis, and look at that as the sole definition.

You know, of essentially potential. The other one that both of you agreed on was learning agility, which is so critical, when the skills required to do our everyday jobs keep changing from week after week. No thanks to generative AI these days, but yeah. Alright.


What's the right headcount size for a business to start running formal 360s or performance reviews?


are two questions on the chat, which seem, fairly relevant at this point in time. Andrea asks us What's the right headcount size for a business to start running formal three sixties or performance reviews? What's the time when this needs to be run, when you don't have the luxury of having everyone in the same room?

I mean, I personally don't think there's a magic number.

I think it's more about your goals in the out comes you're looking to achieve and then mapping the process or laying out a process that's gonna be a process that works for your organization to help you get there. And if that includes a multi source feedback, it doesn't have to be a very sophisticated complex three sixty tool. There are other ways to collect feedback.

If it's for a smaller population, it might be a little bit less automated.

Yep. That sounds like a lot of sense, Tracy. I don't think that is a magic thumb roll, Simon. Yeah.

I would say I would say the same, and maybe I don't think there is a matching number, but I guess the question was raised, you know, if you can be in the same room, and then you probably don't need to have all of these kind of assessment, but it may be adding to what what what Tracy said. I think it's a it's important. Again, you know, I honestly, I don't really believe a lot in sixty. That's me, a lot of others on on your own mic, but, but I think it's it's also, you know, what what, again, what is that you want to understand?

What is that you want to to learn more about? How do you also back to also what you said before, Tracy, how do you really drive performance in your company? And what is really needed? So it it might not be performance review with, you know, five boxes, and who is, top and and who's slow and and who's middle, but maybe more discussion.

So how are we are we actually supporting what we want to do, what is the mission? And how can we how we get on? And is there some blockers, and, of course, you need to take that in a safe way, but is there someone blocking or some some specific ways of people working that is blocking for our success? How can we, how can we take that away?

And that and, you know, in a smaller company, it's easier to do in a in a dialogue based way, and in a bigger company will push you, you know, need to maybe structure it in a different way because you can't reach everyone and you can't do it face to face. So I so I would say probably not a magic number, but there are different ways of doing it, you know, in terms of size. Yeah.

I'd say, Andre, till the time the business leaders don't start feeling that they no longer have the visibility to take decisions on talent. You know, any which way you're trying to kind of strong-arm this with business leaders who don't feel the need, you know, will be will be not a success from day zero itself. So wait till the business leaders start complaining about having too many people, to manage without any such formal processes.

Then the Another question, I think we covered some of this, Melissa, asks,


Given the broad scope of the word 'potential', how can we simplify the definition to what's relevant?


are you seeing alternative access points instead of this big hairy scary definition of potential. I think we already heard some simple simple examples that you can identify certain skills or behaviors which are critical for your business like learning agility or being a connector in the organization, and simplify the definition of a potential to what's relevant. I hope, I summarize that well based on thoughts you shared tracing and Simon.

Yeah. And and maybe just to to add, I think, from what I've seen, I'll move back to your, what, your first question. Someone difficulties is if we have, have a, you know, a definition of of you can tell your potential, which is not aligned with top management or the CEO, because that's the worst thing that can happen in a time when you go through all of the process. And then in the end, maybe in the end, the CEO or or some of the, c suite will say, well, that's not how we see it.

And then you sort of made a process throughout the organization that is not really worth, a lot. So I think that's the important part. So so back to what you, the the the great example you came with, Tracy, I I also hope because that's some of the things we really need to do, is to make sure that it is aligned so you sort of get that understanding. If there's a different way of of of, you know, using potential, then make sure that that's understood in the organization.

And it's not only left in the siege. We do more or with the CEO because then then you fail.

I think that's very powerful, Simon, because if you're gonna invite everyone into a talent review meeting, and this helps me kind of segue into running in the run up towards the talent review meeting themselves and running them successfully. But if you're gonna socialize the framework with participants of a talent review meeting, possibly for the first or at best the second time in the talent review meeting, you're not setting yourself up for success. So that brings me to, you know, one of the aspects that both of you touched upon, even though I kept pushing you to list down n number of

data points.

And I think the audience has enough and more handled on the data points and the frameworks at this point in time,


How best can we create transparency around talent reviews?


how important is it and how best can I create the transparency?

You know, around both understanding what's the data point of the framework for my organization as well as having relevant data points for every individual How critical is that for, let's say, someone who's a manager or a leader and is going to be part of the talent review meeting to have visibility on through the course of the year?

Simon, let's start with you. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so so so I guess, if I'm understanding your question, then then then it's it's shows about how we can, how we can make the data available, and see what's going on, or what is what is your what are your Either make the data available or a key not have the talent reviews be the first time a manager or leader is thinking through those particular data points, as they decide the fate if I can call it off their talent.

Yeah. I guess I guess it's maybe a little bit back to my point. And and and if I misunderstood, then I hope, Tracy can help me. But but I think it's a little bit back to my my point about, you know, making take some time to, to make sure that people really understand what we're talking about, and and also, some of the things that we are trying to do, and that's maybe a little back, and maybe that's a different part of your question, but as a little bit back to getting the managers into it, because I think, you know, it's it's also a selling point sometimes.

You you need to get people, and managers really into why we're doing this. We're trying to give a lot of, data throughout the year of availability because that's also available, because that's also where people start to discuss. So what does it mean? How can I use it?

What How can I, for example, if we we have a we have a data set, a a morbidity of high potential? So if we can see now today, for example, the the time we did earlier this year, we have active transitions, let's say, forty percent. Then we also start to have that discussion with the managers about what does it mean when you have people up in their and the higher level, they are ready to transition. What does that really mean?

We're we're actually talking about. We want to transition people within the next year because that's part of a part of our what so I think it's also about, you know, having the de having the dialogue, but also making it very tangible and easy for for managers to understand what we are trying to obtain throughout the year. I think that's that's that's that's part of the the process because that's where we can, we can use data for getting managers intrigued in the process, we can use data to check on our own process, or we can use them to measure plot progress. So I think they those are the things that that that some, for me, it's important that, you know, you set the targets, you discuss it, you make sure they are there, and you keep on on on having some kind of dialogue around it because that's that is also centering back to what is really what we want to obtain.

I don't know if that answered your your questions. Absolutely. This time. And in fact, the kernel that I'm taking away is that talent reviews are not only to hold our talent accountable for their performance and they broke into the newer opportunities.

We throw at them. But their managers also are equally accountable to kind of drive that growth as almost their career coaches. And that's why the transparency of this data or the conversation flowing through the course of the year right after the talent interview is so so critical. So thank you so much for sharing.

Tracy, I'm I'm gonna kind of come in and and throw the next question at you.

Obviously, we've already kind of looked at how can you simplify defining a common yardstick for performance, potential, how critical it is to kind of hold, you know, both transparently as well as through accountability the individual as well as the manager and the coach, through the course of the year. Now I'm coming closer to my actual big bang event of my talent review discussions or conversations stations. Right?


What should we start working on in the days or weeks leading up to a talent review?


should I be thinking about say a few days or a couple of weeks, you know, in the run up to that series of talent review conversations so that I ensure that those talent review conversations are high quality and give me the kind of outcome that I want. What should I start working on, a few days or a few weeks before the actual event?

Sure. I would I would say do not underestimate the amount of preparation.

That goes into the process before the official meeting.

I think that, to the point of transparency, really making sure that each level of manager, in the process is really fully aware of what we're doing, why we're doing it, what we're hoping to achieve, what the outcomes will be, what the expectations are around gathering career aspiration information. What are the expectations around? How are we following up with these individuals afterwards?

What are we going to share with them? Are we actually sharing a box placement if we're using a nine box or a four box? Are we actually sharing what box we've placed them in? Or are we just sharing anecdotally the feedback and kind of where we see their career going and, you know, how much development we're planning to invest and what what that might look like over time.

So I think being really clear before you get into that room around what you're planning to share, and making sure everyone is aligned and, following up and making sure people understand the expectations following that meeting. Don't wait until the day of the session to do that. Don't wait until you're in the room together because you'll spend However, much time you devote a session, you'll spend most of it debating, at this point. And, you really wanna spend most of your time together in that session in that room talking about the talent, not debating, what we're sharing, why we're sharing it, why we're not sharing it. If we're ready or not, you know, culturally.

Got it. So, I think get your data packs ready, circulate them to the participants If you've got a starting point from the data about where the individual lies on your own framework, it's always helpful to transparently share that so that managers and leaders can come with their point of view ready, you know, in the conversation to help you better save time and have higher quality conversations.

Simon, over and above data packs in the days running up to the talent review, anything else that you'd like to add, which you definitely, considered a must do.

Some of the same, same things. I mean, a tech company and data is extremely important here, and and managers are also sort of motivated by by by by data. So so, yes, I think that's it in important. We actually also give them a data pack a couple of weeks before, and they get that with their HR business partner as a resource to also discuss it. We also compare, not not to make competition, but just so they can see how are they actually ranging towards other parts of the organization, and then gives you some good insights. So I I completely agree that you need to take some time on. Then, of course, again, maybe the I'm saving you up is here, but make sure that you go to the agenda.

So so you can actually also see what are we going to take the time on? Where where are we going to spend the most time, on, and and how are we going to, to sort of, walk through, the the the discussion. So the leaders also are aware of. That is what we want to do.

This is where we want to. Now we're stopping the meeting, now we're now we are now we're moving on. So so I think I complete agreement with Tracy. We need to really prepare, and sometimes all prepare also because we We know, I guess, we all know that we have, people that we're working with, we're very busy.

And and we might believe that they read what we sent to them, but most of the time, they do not. So so take some time, some personal time, also to make sure that they are, wherein they, you know, looked into your eyes, and said, yes, I I know what's going on, and and and I know what's going happen because otherwise you can you can enter the meeting, which is actually very not, you know, it's not a it's not a good meeting because it ends up being a a discussion of things that you should have taken care of before the meeting. That's not what you want.


Get your data packs, share them transparently with the audiences. I think one thing I'll add from the earliest part of the section, that Simon mentioned, which is get some dryer on Zoom, especially if you've got some new leaders and managers who haven't been part of telling tribute conversations in the past.

Third one that I loved that, you know, what you mentioned, Simon is offer up the HR business partners time after the data packs have been sent out for any clarifications, doubts, or understanding these frameworks or the agenda of the conversation as it will flow.

Alright. We've done all of these three, four things, and it's the meeting


How can we manage time during talent reviews?


of the common complaints that we've heard, in fact, there's a question on the chat as well, is that talent review conversations always take super, super long. And the conversations that happen may not be consistent or fair for all the individuals that get discussed. Now some of the insights that both of you share have already addressed how you can save time by helping people come into the meeting itself absolutely ready with their point of view or the aspects of discussions that they'd like to surface.

How about an ideal kind of an agenda. Any thumb rules around the amount of time one should spend any thumb rules around which part of the organization you should spend more time discussing in these reviews versus the others, any best practices there, feel free to kind of jump in and take this on Simon or Tracy.

Well, I'd love to address Patricia's question because I think it's super important.

What I have found to be much more useful and productive after doing this and making lots of mistakes over the years is to really make sure that the group of people who are going to be in room together having these conversations understand what bias is.

And, what I found to be the most helpful to actually make sure everyone understands that there will be someone in the room who will act as a bias interrupter.

And, that person, whether it's, the facilitator, themselves, or whether it's another HR employee or someone else who's skilled up and trained on bias.

That individual will vary gently politely and diplomatically ask questions, right, not point fingers and say you're being biased, but ask questions, open ended questions in a very coaching, supportive way.

That's a really interesting point. Would we have said that if Mary was a man? Right? Or that's a really interesting point.

Right? Are we considering, Jack's health issues as part of our our decisions around whether or not he can take on this next role, you know. So whatever the the situation might be. And I've actually created training, for these leaders prior to going into the session with scenarios that would help them really, see a narrative, see a story, see how it plays out, and be able to identify, oh, yeah.

This is probably not an appropriate way to make this decision. It looks like some of some of our own biases have crept into this scenario.

Absolutely love the role of the bias, interrupter, Tracy, and, and, and that's gonna be my next question. Simon, You know, you're you're really deep into ensuring that everyone shows up for the meeting.

You know, trained and prepared about the the framework and the training of the conversation.


Do we need a facilitator for talent reviews?


you typically recommend having like a facilitator for talent reviews?

Could be someone from the talent management team and experienced business partner or even let's say bringing in an external facilitator, if this is new?

That's a very good question. And I I would say it depends And again, it depends, sir, on on the leadership team, because now, for example, that I'm in a very new leadership team. And here, I would not do it because it will, it would take out the the dialogue where we we really need to center up the dialogue. So I think it's it depends.

I I guess it's I think it's a brilliant idea to take in, but that might also be in a more mature group. I don't know. Maybe you can do it everywhere, but in a mature group where you you're safe, you feel it's okay someone else interrupt and also give you some feedback in during the meeting. But if you are with a new leadership, leadership team, maybe, maybe not.

But I haven't had maybe an another idea. And and some of the things I've done, because I I I smiled a bit when you said it's time consuming and so on, and sometimes we tend to go too too many people. It's difficult to, to somehow control some leaders that talk a lot. What we did, this year, and and and and we'll do again is we also asked, and we we sent out a material before And we ask, you know, specifically what would they like to, you know, dive more into?

Maybe also people, where would you like to dive more into? And that actually created discussion that we we actually got got through all of it, but we actually started with those where we, you know, most people would like to dive into a head discussion, and it was the valid ones that we that we took in the beginning. I think that's a leader group is is most the time well capable of what they really want to discuss. And that sort of took out some of this And we're waiting for the for this, while we're loo we're listening to someone else.

It it actually send the, and focus the discussion. So it's it's, again, back to being prepared and maybe be ready to to share something new even before so they can take that, decision. And I know not all senior leaders would take the time to book and give the feedback. But, you know, if if if eighty percent or seventy five percent actually do, then you then you can focus, the discussion.

So it's so it's it's back to, to some simple steps of trying to get them, them, you know, focused?

I'm absolutely loving how lightweight and pragmatic all of your suggestions are. And, I'll bring something back from what you mentioned, Tracy, when I when we talked about data points. Right? If those data packs have those demographic labels, people can self select or even at the end of a cohort style interview conversation, we can flash if any unconscious biases have come to play when we look at you know, almost like the labeling of our talent based on those demographic slices, you know, to kind of give Patricia another handle to control this over and about the biasing for sure.

I have in the past, had my team after we've collected all the information back. Create a few slides for leadership team that show the the placement. You know, we have, you know, forty percent of our top top talent or white men? Are we comfortable with that?

Right? What do we think about that? Maybe have a conversation around that?

You know, a point that Simon has made a few times that I think we haven't spent a lot of time talking about is the role of the HR business partner. They play a critical role in this whole process. They need to be connected with the talent COE at the hip, and they have to be part of the process, and really engaged.

And their port throughout the process is really important.

I'm actually gonna use that, Tracy. Thank you for kind of surfacing that, amongst all of the high quality conversation we've had. To get into. Alright. I've done my talent reviews. I've possibly documented, you know, every manager or leaders agreement on what the course of action for my talent really looks like.

How how would you suggest closing the loop? And I'm pretty sure HR business partners there why I used that as a sec. We have a huge role to play there.

And I think I'll I'll kind of tie that back also to what Simon mentioned, which is how the importance of holding managers are comfortable for driving that growth for each individual's plan as well. So, Tracy, if if you can expand on thought and marry that and segue, you know, kind of weave the HR business partners role in terms of


How should we close the loop on talent reviews?


time interviews are done. How do I ensure that people come into the next style interview equally excited because they've started seeing the meaning. There's certainly something I need to do between these style interviews. How should I be looking at closing the loop?

Sure. I think you need to set the expectations for the process at the beginning. So everyone understands that the talent of your conversation is not the endpoint.

And that there will be follow-up on what that follow-up looks like and make sure everyone is aware and understands what that is. It could be checking in quarterly, for example, we said we were gonna give Jamie a coach. Where are we with that? We said we were gonna put these twenty people in a leadership development program. Where are we with that? And following up with progress and the outcomes, and just keeping that cadence going so that it's not a once a year check the box activity.

Simon, your keen insights on what's happening between two talent reviews, how are you program managing all of the great things that need to happen which you did the talent reviews in the first place?

No. I think, Tracy, of course, put it, very well as well. But but I think what we've done also, we spend some time also communicating, and, and of course, the past you can't communicate about, but there are also different parts, you can communicate to the organization.

And keep it alive that way then. Then as I said before, we actually use a lot of data, maybe even too many data, and we're trying to to sort them out, but also to to continue to say, so what has happened? So because we know exactly, because I said before we do it for all of our people, so we know exactly where they are in this nine grid, and we can then also go back say to the leaders. So this is what's happening.

This is this is this is the progression. And actually, we're also now starting to share with our recruiters. So they know if there are any people inside organization that are able to take a job that we sort of start to send out to, to the outside because that happens. Of course, all of the time, Amanda's need to recruit a person, but doesn't know everything.

The recruiters window. So they would also be able to say, well, hey, guys. You have actually someone in Germany that is that's looking for for something and is ready for. Something.

So why don't you take a chat with that person? So we're trying to use the data so they can see, okay, it's not a happening here in a in a closed room, and then nobody talks about it, but they're really useful data, and it's something that we we we we we we spread, in the organization in the way we can, of course.

Absolutely. Love that.

We've we've already chalked out an entire year's game plan of the before during and after talent reviews and If I can say so myself some very, very actionable, simple lightweight yet impactful insights coming there from both our experts.


How would you measure the success of your talent review program?


I look at the time, I think now's the time for me to ask you the last two questions to your panelists. The first one is how would you measure the success of your talent review program.

Tracy, we can begin with you.

Well, I think, Simon and I have touched on a few of the key points around that. Sort of quickly to try to be brief and sum it up is, I think that it is important to understand what you're trying to accomplish, whether it was we want to identify the critical roles in the organization. We wanna align our talent to those critical roles. We wanna see where we have gaps that we know what our strategy will be. Will it be to develop internally? If so whom or to recruit externally, if so, when and how, you can use those data points to then create a scorecard, and you can use that scorecard to report on the progress of your talent review process.

I love the go card idea, because that immediately starts to show the ROI and the buy in to all of the business leaders as well.

Simon, any other any other ways in which you define the success or measure the success of time to review programs?

I would say, if there's, of course, the data pattern, I come in and look back to that afterwards, but the level of conversations around talent. If we have a lot of conversations around talent reviews in the organization, then it means something. Then it's something that the leaders really they attention to. So, level of conversation of that and IDPs and so on.

And then, and I mentioned it a couple of times before we actually measure the mobility of high potential of the employees, and that's, you know, comes from the nine grid. So I won't go into details of that. And I think that's also a very powerful way of looking into the success of, those ten moves because if we don't manage to, you know, move our strong people, those who are in the high, high level and ready to move, then they will move out. So that's a very important, key, KPI for us.

Yep. And I'm I'm gonna try and summarize that as a former scorecarding consultant to kind of answer Melissa's question on what metrics are executives asking for around calendar views What I heard Tracy mention, hey, if your strategy for target reviews is plug the leadership roles, by growing talent internally, than possibly percentage of leadership roles that you were able to kind of backfill internally versus the ones that you had to hire external talent for If your strategy is to ensure retention and continuity in the critical roles, measure the average tenure of your people in those critical roles as an outcome, one that I absolutely hit home for me when Simon mentioned it, definitely look at the year on year or period on period growth of individuals and aggregate that by cohorts to see whether talent reviews are actually providing for an accelerating growth on career paths internally.

So some very, very simple to measure actionable pieces and love what Tracy mentioned, which is package all of this into a scorecard and beam it out to your leaders and that should start driving the necessary change to put you in the driver's seat. All of your core looking at making all of these massive improvements to your talent review program Thank you so much for joining us today. I cannot thank Tracy and Simon enough for taking an hour out of their busy schedules, and even more so for really, really demystifying and simplifying talent reviews as a year long approach. Thank you so much, Simon and Tracy. Really, really learned a lot today from you. I hope you enjoyed your time on the show as well.

It's a pleasure. Thank you. Definitely. Alright.

We're hosting it. See, if not all, most of you on the next episode of the performance puzzle, that's all for today. Thank you.

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