Sommer Hamilton '04, June 1st, 2005
The professional practice of human resources is awaiting the emergence of an offshoot field focused on talent to fuel the strategy that best disperses human capital and creates a competitive advantage. That’s according to HR theorist and consultant Pete Ramstad, who faced a gathering of upper-level HR executives during the Center for Human Resource Management’s Spring Forum.
Nearly 30 HR leaders from such multinational companies as GE, Ford and Southwest Airlines gathered at Mays for the center’s two-day professional development forum in May, hearing from faculty and industry experts on new approaches to managing human capital.
A field focused on decision science is needed to guide talent decisions â€” just as finance enhances and steers the strategic decision framework behind accounting â€” said Ramstad, an executive vice president at industrial psychology firm Personnel Decisions International. “For HR, we have a rich, incredibly robust set of professional practices, but we are largely divorced from decisions just about people. For HR to advance, it’s going to have to separate its services from its support functions.”
Ramstad calls the new area of HR “talentship,” explaining that much like marketing’s affect on sales, an offshoot specialization would take the focus off bottom-line employment support and instead focus on value-added talent pool analysis. Knowing where your most pivotal employees are and guiding their growth and development, therefore, is crucial to a company’s success.
An organized, evolving talent strategy can clear up strategic ambiguity within the company as a whole and enable HR leaders to send their company’s troops out with clearly articulated marching orders. Knowing where to funnel that energy â€” and educating company executives about your plan â€” is key to creating programs for talent pools and directing efforts to improve the company’s image and brand through such talent, Ramstad says.
“How often do you get asked to do a program that you know won’t fly?” Ramstad asked. “You’ve got to shift out of the service framework and into teaching.”