Discovering Latent Talent in Organizations: Screening-In versus Screening-Out

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas, as in escaping old ones

~John Maynard Keynes

We are all very familiar with the traditional recruitment and selection paradigm: Describe an opportunity; post an advertisement; gather applications; screen; assess and interview; and select. This entire approach is based on the assumption that there are many ‘resources’ available that have the potential to meet the demands of a position, and that getting the ‘best’ talent is the goal. In fact, the belief in the efficacy of this approach is so pervasive that it has been applied internally to fill vacancies as much as it has been applied externally to acquire new talent. In a world where supply of labour outstripped demand for labour, this approach made sense, but it begs the question: What happens when talent shortages become a growing reality?

This concern is being answered in a variety of ways. For example, many employers are working to create an attractive ‘employee experience’ brand in hopes of attracting and retaining talent, while others are turning to new ways of getting work done, such as automation, to reduce their dependency on worker supply. What few are doing is looking to unleash the latent talent of their existing workforce.

By definition, a selection process that is designed to screen people out based on specific role criteria, gathers little information about the breadth and depth of candidates’ potential. As a result, most organizations have only credentials, work history, and years of experience information sitting in their HRIS. Some have behavioural competency information that has been established as part of training and development efforts, but don’t have an assessment tool that can rigorously assess against those competencies. And some have on-the-job performance information that may or may not be tied to the behavioural competencies. All to say, that line-of-sight in terms of understanding the internal talent pool is often constrained and fractured.

This is where predictive behavioural analytics are game-changers. The process for determining right-fit talent has been steadily improving for many years. A significant leap forward is on the horizon with the increase in popularity of predictive behavioural analytics. These tools give hiring parties the means to rigorously screen for the behavioural preferences that will ensure consistent high performance on the job. They can even help ensure culture-fit, thereby further increasing the likelihood of positive engagement and contribution over the longer term. What is most important about these tools is that they make it possible to manage talent in a whole new way: to screen-in instead of out when seeking to assign talent to projects or fill internal vacancies.

How do they do it? Predictive behavioural analytics identify suitability for roles based on the degree similarity between the in interest and trait preferences of an individual with those of high performer benchmarks for different roles. In other words, they make it possible to anticipate a candidate’s suitability (and likely interest and motivation) to perform a wide range of roles, including progression and succession roles.

By making a one-time investment in gathering this type of workforce data, organizations gain the ability to actively invite suitable internal talent to consider applying for available opportunities. They increase their options for filling hard-to-fill positions with candidates that are suitable as well as knowledgeable and committed to organization. And, viewed from the flip-side, they are better able to anticipate critical future talent gaps, giving the organization more lead time to come up with workable solutions.

Not only is this positive for organizations, it is a boost for employees too who will feel seen and valued by a process that encourages them to step forward based on who they are and what they bring. This is particularly true for the roughly 30% of the workforce who are introverts, and by virtue of a quieter ego, may be less inclined to the self-promotion and advancement-seeking upon which the prevailing model relies.

Best of all, this approach can improve an organization’s aggregate efficiency in terms of talent utilization. By inviting talent to assume roles for which they are better suited, organizations can systematically improve performance levels, creating a win-win for all.

Knowing that an employer will be proactive in identifying rewarding career opportunities may be THE best employee experience brand an organization can have.