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A look at the four challenges facing HR today, when it comes to performance management, development and employee collaboration.


It’s no secret that today’s HR departments are being pushed to focus on employee development and performance management. But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. From smaller budgets to old-tech, these are the kinds of challenges HR departments are facing when it comes to talent development.

HR System Budgets are Under Pressure

If you’re running an HR department today, you’re likely going to have to find creative ways of doing a lot more, with a lot less. On the whole, a company’s HR department is still viewed as a looming overhead by executives – and its often the first place they look to trim from when its time to cut costs. Why? Because of the historical lack of perceived value coming from HR’s systems. “A lot of human resource management software is not delivering on the promises that were made during the sales process,” says Martin Sutherland, co-founder of TalentTalker.

The result is that management is more skeptical of investing time, money and effort into HR software and technology. Thin budgets mean fewer tools and resources, and therefore under-developed talent that will move elsewhere if they can. And, your business will be stuck with the employees who have nowhere else to go.

Rethink: Instead of pushing for large technology solutions off the bat, do small-scale prototyping in the business that allows the users of that technology to become advocates and promoters. That way, it will get pulled into the business by users, instead of pushed by HR.

Managers Lack Information to Connect People with Relevant Development Resources

Companies rely on data to help them tweak and adjust business strategies, and the same rule should apply to HR. You need data to figure out why people join, what makes them stay, who is likely to be successful in certain roles, and how you can develop talent.

The truth is that managers lack the correct, data-driven information about their employees to direct them to relevant development and training.

For starters, the technology they are using to gather the data is often poorly designed and stays around much longer than it should, which leads to less interaction from employees and managers, and more problems around collecting the data. Remember; people’s expectations of user experience are continually raised by the technology they interact with in their personal lives.

Executives are also reluctant to let go of ‘sunk costs’; the money they’ve already invested in poorly-executed solutions, so they insist HR simply ‘makes it work’.

Rethink: The best solution is to constantly seek feedback from the users of your technology during pilot or decision phase, so you can work out if it will answer your questions – before you buy the product. Remember; it’s now far easier to integrate different technologies than to repurpose or redesign existing technology.

Managers Don’t Know How to Have Development Conversations

According to 2016 research from ManpowerGroup, four out of five Millennials say the possibility of learning new skills is a major factor when considering a new job. The workforce has changed. Gone are the days when employees were happy to be given a set of systems to follow – and a job description they could repeat day in and day out for years, with no potential for growth.

Today, employees expect more. They expect high-quality, relevant development conversations with personalized action items, that outline what the business can present to them when it comes to planning their succession. They want to participate in process development, instead of having it directed to them.

On the flipside, companies also can’t afford to overlook internal leadership potential. Sadly, managers are so busy trying to achieve business objectives, they simply don’t prioritize speaking to their talent specifically about their careers and skills. And, when they do have the time, they lack the vocabulary to have effective development management conversations, or feel ill equipped to deal with employees’ high expectations, and so avoid the issue altogether. This is a leading cause of employee disengagement.

Rethink: HR departments need to adopt an employee centric – not HR centric – approach to development. And invest time and money helping managers learn how to have successful development conversations with their team. The concern for business heads is, of course, “what if I spend money training all my people and they leave?” Well, what if you don’t and they stay?

There’s a Broadening Skills Gap

Today, technical skills are simply no longer enough to succeed. The business environment requires proficiencies only dreamed about a decade ago. And, as it is becoming more complex, people are required to build more relationships with more people in order to understand and be effective in that environment. This leads to a broadening skills gap.

Rethink: Talent managers who succeed in bridging this gap will be those who help managers and employees develop their skills, by offering access to training and helpful guides – and, more importantly – the personalized opportunity to apply what they’ve learned.