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 / Summer 2006 / Issue 43(originally published by Booz & Company)


Rethinking the Value of Talent

In our system, the differences among these four segments are expressed in terms of talent valuation — such attributes as knowledge, experience, skills, and personal interaction capabilities — and not in terms of organizational structures (such as business units) or in human resources management terms (such as age, education, seniority, or compensation). This concept for strategically managing the value of employees brings human resources approaches to a new level.

Basic management processes — sourcing, development and training, compensation, retention, and separation — are conceptually the same for all four employee segments. However, since each segment differs in how critical it is to an organization’s success, the practical tools used in applying these processes will also differ. Take sourcing, for instance. Depending on a company’s business model and operational plans, employees in some segments, such as Creators and Ambassadors, are generally hired and trained as part of the permanent corporate head count. In other instances, however, Craft Masters, Drivers, and sometimes even Creators are structurally (though not organizationally) less closely integrated into the organization. Instead, they are brought on as temporary or contract staff or engaged as independent consultants.

After the right people are cast in the right roles, they must be managed in different ways, according to those roles. For example, consider two training officers, Jill and Jack. Jill is highly professional, and her training efforts are almost always successful; she is a Craft Master. But Jack is more creative and is expected not only to train staffers well but also to improve the quality of the teaching materials. He was hired through a headhunter, is paid more than Jill, and knows that he is depended upon to expand the limits of the training organization. Jack is a Creator. Jill and Jack have the same job title and, in general, do the same work. But Jill and Jack are in separate business-critical categories, thus their salaries, evaluations, and promotions must be handled differently.

Dealing with employees in this way can be a complex balancing act for management. But it is exactly what every manager already does — or should do — every day. For example, the manager of an opera house must continually handle a number of distinct segments of people: the singers, the conductor, the casting director, the cast, the musicians, the bartender, the box-office cashier. To do this, he uses varied sourcing techniques, compensation principles, and motivational approaches in a relatively instinctive way.

Yet in many cases, the very rules and procedures of an organization can be obstacles to segmentation and a force for “averaging” the treatment of individuals’ roles. This tendency is a dangerous handicap that makes it impossible to measure the value of employees and, ultimately, to compete successfully in the global marketplace.

Author Profiles:

Jeffrey Joerres ([email protected]) is chairman and chief executive officer of Manpower Inc., an employment services company.

Dominique Turcq ([email protected]), former senior vice president of strategy at Manpower Inc., is a scientific advisor on labor issues to the French government planning authority. 
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