Toxic    Far too many HR pros have had the experience of seeing a talented person leave the company, mouth non-committal platitudes during the exit interview and not speak to the real reasons for their departure.  Sure, it may have been the recruiter that called out of the blue with the perfect job and a 20% pay increase that simply could not be turned down.  But something made them listen to the pitch in the first place, hold multiple conversations, interviews and final negotiations.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of the University College London has identified five toxic habits of talent management that can neuter even the best planned talent management program:

  1. Being unaware of one’s actual company culture:  Corporate culture may be driven from the top but its practice at the bottom is what determines it.  Does your company profess to hire from within and then continuously hire from outside?  Boast of an open door policy with no real access to business leaders?
  2. Confusing employee engagement with happiness:  Some of the happiest employees I have ever seen worked in one of the most unproductive and ineffective business units that I have ever seen.  Talented employees want to be effective at what they do and want challenges to stay engaged.  I have noticed they somehow mine to find happiness on their own just fine.
  3. Ignoring toxic office politics:  Most all HR pros have had the experience of office politics interfering with internal selection processes.  The issue is not so much the presence of politics in an organization, which is natural, but rather the corrosive type that trump the organization’s best interests.
  4. Misunderstanding leadership:  Few management decisions draw more ire from researchers than leadership selection.  More than one decade after Jim Collins harped on it mercilessly we continue to promote employees into management positions on the basis of technical expertise or popularity.  The most valuable are those that can effectively build and lead teams of people.  These are rarer to begin with and their skills are not measured in most organizations.
  5. Relying on intuition instead of data:  Organizations are especially prone to this failure when under pressure.  My personal observation is that business leaders in these situations tend to magnify the accomplishments of the desired individual and then backfill their deficiencies with optimism.  Such efforts most always end badly for both the individual and the organization.