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Talent Management During the Crisis—Part 5: Talent Deployment

By Mark Allen, PhD

One of the most overlooked aspects of talent management is deployment. While we often pay a great deal of attention to getting the right people on the bus, we do not always put as much care into ensuring that everyone is in the right seat. Ensuring effective talent deployment within an organization is always important, but is particularly vital now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 6 Rs of Talent

When we hire, we are careful to make sure that we hit the 6 Rs of Talent: having the Right Person with the Right Skills in the Right Job at the Right Time in the Right Place for the Right Cost. But what about after a person has been working for your organization for a few years? Are all of the 6 Rs still true?

How we deploy our available talent can be just as important as having the right talent. Typically, we want to have our top performers in the most important roles. If any of you can remember, we used to have a sport called baseball. Managers would wisely deploy their best hitter near the top of the batting order, not the bottom or even worse, on the bench. We must manage our teams as wisely as the best baseball managers.

The coronavirus pandemic offers new challenges and, as always, new opportunities. There are some roles that aren’t well-suited to working at home. Here’s a simple example: receptionists typically sit at the front desk and greet visitors. Since workplaces are closed and there are no visitors, there’s no need for a greeter. If your organization has compassion and financial ability, you might still be paying your receptionists. But rather than paying these people to sit at home and do nothing, think about tasks that need to be done and that can be done by redeploying your reception staff. While there are many jobs that are less important in a virtual workplace, there are also many new tasks (coordinating Zoom meetings or trainings, for example) that need to be done. Redeployment can maximize the efficiency of talent who we are paying regardless of whether they are doing their traditional jobs.

Taking Inventory of Your Talent

The vital first step in ensuring that you are deploying your people in a way that optimizes your use of talent is take inventory. While retail stores are generally diligent about ensuring that they have an accurate inventory of products, most organizations are not as diligent about fully understanding their inventory of talent. I’m not talking about a headcount of the number of workers. I’m referring to an inventory of the talents possessed by your workers. Do you have people who have acquired skills since they’ve been on the job that you don’t know about? Do you have people who have earned degrees that are not reflected in your HRIS? 

Chances are you are not fully leveraging your talent based on the historically dismal results to Gallup’s Question, “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.” Gallup’s surveys have consistently shown that the majority of employees do not get to do what they do best every day. This is a tremendous waste of human potential. If managers simply knew what employees are capable of, the workforce would be deployed much more strategically. And in addition to the obvious productivity gains, Gallup’s research has shown that workers who do use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged at work. Even more importantly, when managers focus on employees’ strengths, only 1% of employees are actively disengaged. This is the single most staggering talent management statistic I’ve ever encountered. We have the ability to almost completely eradicate disengagement from our workforce. It just requires that our managers seek to understand the strengths and talents of their employees and then let them do what they do best. 

Given the need for greater productivity during this crisis and the challenges of paying people to work at home (or perhaps not work at all), now would be a great time to pause for a moment and take inventory of our talent so we can deploy it strategically and optimize the use of our greatest asset. 

Learn More About Talent Management During the COVID-19 Crisis

This article is part of a series on talent management during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Click a link below to read more: