Jan: Welcome to the fifth podcast in our Perfect Match series with Ans De Vos on talent management.
Maybe [for] the last in this series, Ans, we can talk about the human versus digital aspect of talent management. So, a statement today as well: ‘Technology plays a pivotal role in many aspects of our lives. It's essential to remember that the realm of talent management thrives on the human touch and expert guidance.’
There you go...
Ans: Thank you. This statement always reminds me of what Peter Drucker already said in the seventies: ‘The major problem with technology is not technology, but it's human.’ So, we should be careful of, on the one hand, or in the one part of the company, kind of working on being on the forefront of all technological adaptations and digitisation, AI, whatever things that can help us optimise what we do as a company, but also as HR. And then on the other hand, having there everything related to employee experience, kind of thinking about how can we optimise the human interaction because, surprise, surprise, when people leave, it often has to do with the fact that they lack decent relationships with their manager or their colleagues, and lack a sense of meaning in what they are doing.
Jan: So, it brings about the debate about artificial intelligence being neutral. Which it’s not, by the way. I think we can all agree that it's just as neutral as the person who programmed the algorithm. But shouldn't we actually rely on people being not neutral? That that is a big advantage, that leaders, managers can actually talk with people focusing on what's important to them? Maybe things that technology cannot offer us?
Ans: And in that sense, you might say that technology gives us information that we can use to start validating when interacting with people. When you have kind of the information, like being informed as a manager that there might be some people in your team that show a risk of having skills becoming obsolete because they have not followed any training for so much time. Is that the case or not? It's never a reason, as a manager, to already form your judgement. It really is a sign that it's time to have a conversation. But at the end it's the manager who knows maybe already, but maybe the system doesn't realise that this person has been doing job shadowing for a long time to prepare himself for something else but that's not put in the system and I have had this conversation last week but I didn't submit it.
So, this kind of information is still, I think, the guiding principles that should be prioritized, also from an HR perspective, not just monitoring like ticking the box, which manager is complying with submitting which kind of documents by which deadline, but rather also asking themselves questions like why are we, in the first place, requiring all these data gathering processes and people complying to that, but also, again, connecting with people, with managers, with teams to understand what is happening. I think that is the biggest pitfall, that we might spend too much time and resources designing new systems but forget to kind of be careful in how we implement it and follow up.
Jan: So, the technology could help us with, let's say, nudging, maybe giving ideas or little nudges to both managers and people to think about their careers. But we should, on the other hand, invest in leadership training in terms of career management skills for leaders?
Ans: Career management skills in terms of going into the conversation with people, absolutely. And in that sense, I have to give credit to Wendy Hirsch from the UK who already several years ago when I attended a workshop with her, she always emphasised, for managers engaging in a real career conversation with your people in a proactive way, not when there is a problem or a question you cannot fulfill or a request from a person. Having these kind of career conversations on a regular basis, when the need is there for whatever reason, it's one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things you can do in your job as a manager. Because at that time, you're really connecting with somebody else and it's connecting around a person and not just around the job and what needs to be done to meet the job requirements. It's about a career perspective that always broadens your perspective because in a career, the work comes together with the private person and career decisions encompass much more than what you can know from purely knowing this person as a worker in the workplace.
Jan: What a promising way, Ans, to complete this podcast series.
For me, the takeaway is: let digitisation do what it does best, give us information. And let people do what they do best, and that's being human.
Thank you so much.
Ans: Thank you, Jan.