Promise and Peril

December 26, 2012 by Wally Bock

It’s always like this at the end of the year. The papers and the blog are filled with articles looking forward and backward. What was great or awful about 2012? What can we expect in 2013? This post is almost like those posts.

I’ve noticed four key talent development issues that offer both promise and peril. Here’s my take on each one.

The Seat at the Table

The peril here is that the same old debate will drag on with more yearning than doing. But the promise is in the doing. This won’t change with more debate. It will change if a lot of people in HR concentrate on doing things that contribute to their company’s business success.

HR Analytics

There’s big promise here. The magic of technology will help us do better talent management. We will be able to spot critical patterns about things like the way people leave the company so that we can deal with them more effectively. There are two kinds of peril, though.

One danger is that the people who do the analytics will become a priesthood and spend more time guarding their status that contributing to the business. The other danger is that talent development people will lose sight of the fact that no matter how big the data is, no program or algorithm should make decisions for you. People have judgment which can be improved with better data. We need to apply it.

Performance Appraisal

The peril lies in either continuing the same old debate until we subside into silence or trying to eliminate performance appraisal from the workplace. Performance appraisal is necessary, but we don’t have to do it the way we’ve been doing it. The promise lies in finding new and effective ways to evaluate performance. We can learn some important lessons from games.


From where I sit, gamification is the fad of the moment. The promise is that we can learn things from games and why people love them that will help us improve our workplaces. Good games offer people clear goals, a way to win, and constant feedback on how they’re doing. Good workplaces have the same characteristics. The peril is that games and “fun” at work will become the goal.

There are no predictions here. How things look at the end of 2013 depend on what we do between now and then.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Talent Management

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