Matrix Management

The Talent Marketplace – far more than just software

The HR community in many of our clients are actively discussing the idea of introducing talent marketplaces.

The idea is to have a system to match people to opportunities, learning and roles they might be interested in based on their existing skills and preferences and also on new skills they want to learn or improve.

The organisation gets better utilisation and transparency of skills and capabilities, and the individual gets more visible opportunities and more chances for development.

As with so many things, the pandemic has accelerated this trend as organisations have needed the information to be able to redeploy people to ensure effective use of talent.

If you are new to the concept, here is a useful article to give you some background, The Company As A Talent Marketplace: Unilever and Schneider Electric Show The Way.

Leaving aside the technical difficulties of making such a system work and keeping the information within it accurate and up to date, this will have significant implications for management and leadership.

In our work in matrix management we often find that managers struggle with the transition from an environment where they effectively “own” a pool of people who they have effective control over to get their work done, to an environment where they need to mobilize resources that they don’t control.

Two popular refrains are “how can I be accountable for results when I don’t control the resources” and “how can I get things done without formal authority” and we have developed some good tools to help managers overcame these reservations.

A talent marketplace is likely to lead to even more activity being done by teams with shorter term members and members who don’t report to the team leader formally. We need different skills to manage short term teams and multiple team membership.

Reporting lines may become more about “host management” of the individual – helping them to develop capabilities and maintaining a sense of community and connection to the organisation.

More of the activity will be driven by virtual managers who put together teams but don’t have long term ownership of the individuals. The activity leaders become more like project managers.

This can be a very positive development, but it is quite different for managers who have been used to having control and ownership.

A transparent talent marketplace can also be very helpful in combatting some aspects of proximity bias. One of the things that people who work remotely are often concerned about is that they feel they get less access to interesting work and development opportunities. Having a system to make all individuals visible and to ensure they are equally considered for opportunities will be very helpful in hybrid and remote working.

Based on our extensive experience in introducing matrix management, where some of these same challenges also exist, it’s not enough just to change reporting lines or to introduce new business systems.

This will challenge power dynamics between managers and individuals and will change how organisations exercise control. It is a skills, mindset, and culture issue just as much as a software implementation project.

Without the right culture it will not be successful.

How are you planning to establish a culture that will enable a talent marketplace to thrive?

If this is something you are thinking about we would be happy to cooperate and kick around a few ideas.

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