PrintIt’s the first quarter of 2014 and many of us have recently kicked off a talent management process as either a leader or an HR practitioner in our organizations.  So let’s dive in with a provocative question.  “Are our traditional talent management systems driving performance excellence and business results?” Is it possible that our current approach to talent management may have policies, procedures and processes that are well-intentioned, but yield unintended negative consequences?


This 4-part series will explore traditional approaches to four phases of the talent management process: role definition, goal setting, performance management, and compensation.

Part 1: Role Definition

Having clear role definition is arguably necessary to drive performance.  The question is whether the traditional method of putting together job descriptions is the best method to clarify roles.  Job descriptions are a traditional tool used to hire talent, and then used to define roles so that individuals are clear about what they are expected to do.  In a recent article, Get Rid of Job Descriptions and You’ll Hire Better People, Adler argues that job descriptions should be banned as a talent aquisition tool.  Should they also be banned as a tool for ongoing definition of roles once an employee is on board?

A potential unintended negative consequence of job descriptions once a new employee is on the job is that they can be used against us as justification for what people are not going to do. The job description can create limitations, rather than merely being descriptive or foundational.  Is your job to do what is written in your job description, or whatever is necessary to deliver results (within ethical and legal boundaries of course)?  We as leaders and managers would like to think, whatever is necessary to get results, but some employees might say, “what is in my job description.”

Another potential challenge with job descriptions is that they are static in a world that is everchanging.  One could argue that they are obsolete as soon as the ink hits the paper.  How do you ensure that the role evolves with the business needs over time?

A more modern approach to defining roles suggests that rather than creating job descriptions, we should be doing “job design” or even more modern,  “job crafting.”  Both techniques involve a more fluid approach to role definition, with the latter providing more opportunity for participation in job design by the employee.

So we have options.  What approaches to role definition work best to drive performance?  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Part 2: Goal Setting

Bookmark JoinDrPam as a favorite and come back to read the next installment of this 4-part series which explores the potential unintended negative consequences of conventional goal setting….

Dr. Pam