How AI is giving employees more autonomy over their assignments!
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you let your employees choose their next assignment or role?
For those Resource Managers reading this, I can hear it now, your internal voice flagging all the reasons why this would not work…
“Can people really judge what they would and wouldn’t be good at?
Would I lose control over who I get to assign to each project or customer?”
There are, however, factors which sometimes cloud the judgement of Resource Managers (and Hiring Managers), who assign resources based on perceptions of skill set and suitability for a role. This can lead to proximity or recency bias with us selecting the people we engage with most for the role rather than the right person in the organisation.
What if there was an effective and efficient way to match internal roles with internal talent? Like a dating app where you set your preferences and the algorithm will share with you suitable matches and each party swipes right on their ideal match.
For many large enterprises this is now a reality, using Internal Talent Marketplaces. ITMs give both the employee and the resource manager greater opportunity for success.
What is an Internal Talent Marketplace?
Gartner describes Internal Talent Marketplaces as “highly intelligent platforms that democratize access to professional development by connecting people to opportunities.”
They achieve this by using “complex AI-matching algorithms, marketing features and feedback functionality to support agile talent strategies and adaptive organizational design.”
OK That’s Interesting! How do they work?
ITMs provide employees with an opportunity to advance their careers, choose stretch assignments and even pair up with mentors.
- A Resource Manager or Hiring Manager will spec out a role and post the requirements within the ITM, then the algorithm will flag the role to potential candidates who have indicated preferences or skill matches for this type of role.
- You can even profile personality traits to determine if the candidate and hiring manager (or wider team) are a good fit for each other.
- Alternatively initiative leads can post stretch assignments for candidates to align with.
If each party provides accurate information, the platform will use complex algorithms to match candidates with assignments providing greater opportunity to all parties.
The AI has not completely replaced the human touch to the process, both parties will be able to interact before confirming the assignment, to apply the rapport test and validate that there is a shared understanding of the assignment.
Resource Managers, this is where your value remains, and you will be able to interview candidates and to use your intuition to determine if the algorithm provided a good match.
Like a first date scenario on dating apps, no one rushes into marriage just because Bumble says they are your Best Bee.
What are the benefits of Internal Talent Marketplaces?
The resource manager gets insight into skills and experience of individuals who sit outside of their peripheral vision and the ability to select people based on more comprehensive profile matching than CV sifting.
The employee gets more autonomy and control over their career path by selecting assignments that align to their interests and aspirations. In addition, they get to share more of their experience, skill set and preferences than you can on a typical 2-page CV.
A complete win / win – particularly when you bring into play the Uber style rating systems for both parties to rate their mutual experience of the assignment.
For many organisations, it can be hard to retain high achieving talent, particularly where that talent cannot see a clearly defined career path. With a recent study of HR exit interviews showing approximately 50% of leavers doing so due to a lack of growth opportunities (Harvard Business Review 2023) implementing an Internal Talent Marketplace should be a priority for organisations who are struggling to retain and attract top talent. Particularly where these organisations operate on an assignment or deployment-based model.
This approach also tells your people that you respect them and want to create an environment that allows them to pursue their interests and grow their talents. You are telling them that you want to create a culture that leans more towards empowerment than one that leans towards autocracy.
OK! Nice Idea but will it work in reality?
The US Department of Defence is one such organisation who embraces the use of ITMs such as Green Pages to allow their soldiers to apply for assignments. Giving both parties more autonomy over the process and creating more opportunities for individuals to experience a wider range of deployments.
The Green Pages app operates on the principles of categorising opportunities with skill sets and then leaving the detailed decision making to the individuals to select and pair up on opportunities.
There are other examples of ITMs where the algorithm matches the individuals based on preferences and according to Harvard Business Review in these instances 88% of participants preferred the algorithm’s matches to previous models.
AI can further enhance the experience with ‘nudges’, Google for example will provide a ‘Recommended’ Icon for roles the algorithm determines to be a ‘best fit’.
Interesting! Where can I get one?
There are many ITMs solutions on the market, you can secure them as best of breed solutions or as part of a wider ERP Platform.
Gartner provide a catalogue of standalone ITMs (Best Internal Talent Marketplaces Reviews 2023 | Gartner Peer Insights) which can be a great way of introducing the idea to your organisation. For many enterprises you will have already invested in an ERP or HCM platform and will be keen to ensure that you adopt an integrated solution. Not doing so means risking the initiative due to the cost of integration and the impact of maintaining two closely related data sets.
With a vast array of ERP platforms on the market, you may be wondering if this capability is available to them on their chosen platform. You can reach out to your account manager who will be able to share with you the depth and breadth of features available with your platforms Talent Management Modules.
As a Unit4 Evangelist, I will be sharing a little here about U4s features in this area plus my predictions for their Roadmap.
Unit4 and Talent Management
Unit4 have boosted their capabilities in this space with their Talent Management Solutions which have evolved from a product called INTUO, this product covers all the core components of performance management from skills and competencies to learning management.
To expand these capabilities further, Unit4 have partnered with solutions such as HireServe and Smart Recruiters which focus on securing talent and matching CVs to role profiles.
As with the ongoing evolution of ERP platforms, the product roadmap is inevitably set to expand in response to emerging work paradigms and industry trends. What is currently considered a niche service offered by standalone, best-of-breed solutions will inevitably become integrated into the future ERP landscape.
Leading ERP providers like Unit4 are already shifting their focus. They are moving from solely offering talent management tools designed from the employer’s perspective—such as determining an employee’s next career step—to providing more autonomous frameworks.
These advanced systems empower employees to independently discover their next assignments within the organisation, thereby boosting both job satisfaction and retention rates.
As Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies become increasingly prevalent—evidenced by applications like ChatGPT—it is only a matter of time before we see a wider range of SaaS offerings natively incorporating these functionalities. Traditional approaches to talent management often involve complex tables of requirements and algorithmic comparisons that necessitate a computer-centric way of thinking. NLP, on the other hand, allows for a more ‘humanised’ approach. It empowers software applications to understand and interpret human language nuances, thereby bridging the gap between computational algorithms and human interactions. This not only makes the systems more intuitive but also aligns them more closely with how humans naturally communicate and make decisions.
The integration of AI and NLP into ERP systems thus marks a significant shift towards a more employee-centric approach in talent management and recruitment, offering promise for more dynamic, personalised, and engaging experiences for both employers and employees alike.
Taking the concept further
OK so now we have our head around individual self-selection, are we ready to open our minds (and our Technology Roadmaps) further to the idea of Team Self Selection?
We have all been there, having worked with a specific group of people on a project, you have found your groove and are working together like a well-oiled machine, only to find that for your next project you are working with a new group of people and must re-find the flow.
Imagine of you could team up with colleagues that you have already built rapport (you have worked out how each other think, communicate, strengths and weaknesses) to select your next assignment and deliver the best possible outcome for your employer.
While this might not always be practical for business reasons, its surely worth reflection on how the Talent Marketplace Roadmap might evolve.
If you want to learn more about ITMs or Unit4’s approach to Talent Management, please contact email@example.com.