The 2010 HR CEO Networking Meeting - Talking Talent Management in Boston

Before everyone headed to the must-attend 2010 HR Technology event, Rita Jackson, Katrina Busselle and I had the pleasure of participating in our 2010 CEO Networking Meeting. First and foremost a huge thanks to Kronos for hosting the meeting at their very impressive and welcoming world headquarters.

About 20 executives from a variety of human resource software and services companies participated in the networking event from startups like Jobmagic (a super cool platform for recruiting via social media) to established businesses like Sam Gruenbaum's BTHR Solutions (formally BeneTemps), respected industry consultants like Bill Larkin from Executive Alliance and of course, the host of the event and global leader in workforce management solutions, Kronos.

But the undeniable highlight of the morning were the panelists:

David Almeda, VP of HR at Kronos.
Russ Campanello, Senior VP of HR and Administration of Phase Forward
Jack Lane, VP HR of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

It's not everyday you get to spend time with such capable and experienced senior level HR practitioners. These gentlemen are very impressive business executives. As I shared with the group - and I wasn't kidding - this was one of the most informative HR/business conferences I've been to in a while. And I wasn't the only one who expressed that sentiment.

The theme of the meeting was talent management. Specifically, how companies have integrated their talent management with their business strategy. And how it has contributed to revenue growth.

Some of my takeaways from the networking session:
The backgrounds of our three HR executive panelists is interesting. Of course all had decades of proven success in human resource management. But they also had business degrees, a few had MBA's and all had successful experience in non-HR positions from general management to marketing and sales. How can you not have a solid grasp of business knowledge and experience in a position that is so strategically important to the company? You can't. If you are in HR, make a note of that.

Another observation I had while listening to these HR executives was the disconnect between how they view and value HR versus how some HR vendors position the value of their products/services. To illustrate this point lets take a common metric that many vendors focus on when selling the value of their services: "time to hire". And lets compare it to a variation of this metric: "time to contribute". There is a subtle yet important difference. The former is backward looking and cannot be found on a financial statement and by itself it is arguably useless (e.g., you can hire a ton of people really quick but they are the WRONG people).

The later is more strategic, can be directly linked to a financial statement and will likely resonate more with a manager. It is the start of a meaningful business conversation.

A recent discussion I had with Joe Impastato, the CEO of nowHIRE, illustrates this point. One of nowHIRE's products is a talent acquisition software solution for companies that do high volume (hourly) hiring. When Joe describes his solutions to me he does not use the software jargon that is usually associated with talent management products. Joe talks a lot about how HR can be a "profit center" in organizations that do high volume hiring - and he has hard data to support this. The messaging is subtle yet powerful and resonates with business executives more effectively that a features and benefits sell.

Take a fresh look at your messaging. Does it speak to senior level business executives and managers?

Post by HRmarketer CEO Mark Willaman. Join Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Labels: ,