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Human Resources



Marc Effron's Guide to Building Better Talent Faster

Marc Effron

Marc Effron

33 minutes

May 26, 2024

Marc Effron's Guide to Building Better Talent Faster
Interview Highlights

Finding skilled talent has become increasingly challenging for employers worldwide, with almost 4 in 5 reporting significant difficulty in 2023. This figure has doubled since 2015, underlining the pressing issue of talent shortage.

In response, organizations are turning to innovative solutions such as the "talent production line" to address this challenge effectively.

Think of it as a structured assembly line for developing human capital rather than manufacturing products. By implementing a talent production line, organizations can mitigate the impact of talent shortages and build a workforce tailored to their evolving needs.

But what exactly does a talent production line entail, and how can organizations effectively implement it? Let's delve into the insights shared by Marc Effron, President of The Talent Strategy Group.


Understanding the Talent Production Line:

The talent production line is a strategic approach to talent management that involves systematically identifying key skills, nurturing individuals, and efficiently distributing talent where it's needed most. It mirrors the disciplined process used in product development, ensuring that similar attention is given to developing people.

Effron outlines four key steps in the talent production line:


Specification: Define the key skills and capabilities required for specific roles.

Raw Materials: Assess existing talent within the organization and identify individuals with the potential to meet the specified requirements.

Production: Provide a structured sequence of experiences, exposure, and education to develop talent effectively.

Distribution: Ensure talent is deployed strategically, with leaders accountable for nurturing and advancing their development.


Addressing Common Misconceptions:

One common misconception is assuming that leaders are inherently good at developing people. Effron emphasizes that this is not always the case and that a disciplined approach is necessary. Organizations need to establish a collective point of view on how to build people and hold leaders accountable for developing talent.

Successful Implementation: A Case Study:

Effron shares an example of a large food company that successfully implemented the talent production line strategy to produce more general managers quickly. This involved defining the specifications for a good general manager, selecting high-potential candidates, and providing them with relevant experiences and exposure.


The Importance of Transparency and Accountability:

Transparency is crucial in communicating the organization's talent philosophy and managing expectations. Effron highlights the need for organizations to be transparent with their employees about how talent management is conducted and the expectations for career advancement.


Nurturing Talent Through Feedback and Continuous Development:

Effron stresses the importance of providing constructive feedback and continuous development opportunities to individuals on the talent production line. This ensures that they are aware of what they need to learn and can track their progress effectively.


Balancing Structure and Adaptability:

A critical consideration in implementing a talent production line is striking the right balance between structure and adaptability. While some roles may require a predictable path of development, others, particularly in rapidly evolving fields like AI, demand flexibility and ongoing adjustments. Effron suggests maintaining a dual approach, combining a foundational structure with adaptive elements to accommodate changing needs and emerging trends.


The Future of Talent Management:

Looking ahead, Effron highlights the evolving landscape of talent management, particularly in light of remote work trends and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As organizations navigate hybrid work environments and new modes of collaboration, understanding how to effectively manage and develop talent in this context will be crucial for future success.

Official Transcript

The challenge of finding skilled talent has reached critical levels for employers globally in 2023, with nearly 4 in 5 reporting significant difficulty—a figure that has strengthened by 2 percentage points year-over-year.

This issue has more than doubled since 2015 when only 38% of employers faced such challenges, highlighting the growing urgency of the talent shortage problem.

To address this pressing concern, organizations can turn to the concept of a "talent production line." This strategic approach involves systematically identifying the key skills and capabilities required for specific roles, selecting and nurturing the right individuals for these positions, and efficiently distributing talent where it's needed most.

By implementing a disciplined talent production line, organizations can mitigate the impact of talent shortages and proactively build a workforce tailored to their evolving needs, ultimately driving business growth and resilience in a competitive market.

Joining us today is Marc Effron, President of The Talent Strategy Group.

Mark, welcome to the show.

Marc Effron: Very happy to be here. Thank you for the invitation.

A talent production line is a way of thinking about building better talent faster. Here's the concept. Most companies take a lot of care with the products and the services that they produce. They want to make sure that they've designed that product properly. They put the best raw material into it, they have a disciplined process to build it.

And they certainly want to get it to the customer who's anxiously waiting for the product. Why wouldn't we take at least as much care with our people, as we do with our products? We know how to build people, if you've been an HR, you're smart enough to know how to grow people. But in many cases, we have a very undisciplined process around doing this. So the concept of a talent production line says, let's apply that same care and discipline.

Let's start by saying what are the specifications for what we're trying to build? Because if you can't clarify what you're trying to build, you're going to be producing random talent, because you're just trying to grow people, as opposed to people with particular skills. 

So let's start by saying, what specifications are we trying to build to? 

And then raw materials, think of this as your talent review, you have lots of good talent in your company, but not all of it can be built into what you've specified? How predictably accurate are you in saying, Oh, I think Suzy can move this far this fast into this role. So a good process for sorting through all your talent, all that raw materials.

Third step out of more production. This is where most companies fall down, which is do you know, the right sequence of experiences, exposure and education to actually build that talent? So if you're trying to build a good general manager, do you know what the steps are to build a good general manager? And are you moving people through those steps in a disciplined way?

Final step distribution, two things get in the way there; sometimes leaders hold on to talent too long, sometimes the talent doesn't go where you want them to go. 

But the overall concept says, Let's take at least as much care with our people as we do with our products and services and have a disciplined approach to building.

So in your experience, what are the common misconceptions or challenges that organizations face when it comes to talent management? And I know you alluded to it earlier, you said most organizations fall down at step three, which it sounds like a learning and development piece. But how can a disciplined approach, like the talent production line, address them?

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