One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value


By Isabelle St-Jean

As is known, technology continues to increase in complexity and speed in all ever-expanding areas of practical application. Under its influence, we too have, intentionally or not, infused complexity into most aspects of our workplaces.

Fortunately, experienced HR professionals, coaches and consultants and HR experts have noted that at a certain point, those layers upon layers of complexity become counter-productive and time-wasting. Moreover, undue complexity denies organizations the ability to fluidly adapt at a time when change is a constant and innovation a necessity.

In answer to the burdens of complexity and the current business landscape, authors Marc Effron and Miriam Ort go the very human heart of the issue in their book One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value. In building their case for a simplified and effective model of managing talent, the benefits of “basics” are brought home.

This book not only provides the formula for a more expedient talent management plan, it explains clearly how to do it and gives impressive research results to back their claims.

A Principled Approach Works Best
In contrast to the relentless trend of growing complexity in technology and business, these authors convincingly explain the imperative of setting limits to counter this trend in the realm of human resources. Effron and Ort bring us back to the often-overlooked reality that simple, straightforward, easy-to-use methods of harnessing and deepening talent produces the best results.

What OPTM does not recommend is a cookie-cutter approach to talent management; the authors recognize that every business has its own unique set of challenges, leadership style and values.  By spelling out the underlying principles and beliefs of the OPTM approach, the authors further enable HR practitioners and managers to apply the model and adapt it to their own organization.  Throughout this book, Effron and Ort also provide strong responses and strategies to meet the common objections to change that may come about in the process of adopting the OPTM model.

The Four Big Barriers to Talent Management or Development
To begin with, Effron and Ort identify the four most common barriers to building solid talent:

  • creating needless complexity;
  • failing to add new value;
  • ignoring the research; and
  • lacking accountability and transparency.

The last of these barriers resonates particularly with a growing yearning felt in the context of our current, pervasive North American political climate—we crave transparency and accountability.  While fiscal transparency is increasingly recognized as being good for business, there is still significant resistance to the idea of adopting it on the people side of the equation.

Truth Trumps Turnover Fable
For co-author Effron, transparency is a topic of passion. As president of The Talent Strategy Group, as well as co-founder of the Talent Management Institute and creator/publisher of Talent Quarterly, he consults globally and has much to share on the topic beyond the pages of OPTM.

In his article, “Calculating the Optimal Length of Time to Lie to Your Employees,” republished in 2016 on LinkedIn, Effron denounces the fact that many companies worldwide still think that telling the truth will demotivate employees and lead to high turnover among the top talent.  This is untrue, affirms Effron, stating that “the consequence of transparency may be momentarily challenging but the long-term benefits are tremendous.”

The Fivefold Effect: Transparency and Trust
That message emerges as a mantra throughout One Page Talent Management—any difficulty associated with adopting transparency is absolutely worthwhile.  Not only does telling the truth creates a culture of trust, it helps to give employees ownership of their careers, encourages loyalty and best efforts, and is simply a more ethical way of running a business.

With the busy pace of business, we know that accountability is often neglected; Effron and Ort’s book offers practical suggestions and strategies to counter this tendency to overlook the importance of following up on implementation and measurements.  Moreover, they stress that, when simplified, the power and effectiveness of a value-driven talent system buoyed by transparency and accountability increases “fivefold.”

Raise the Bar on Goal Setting
Drawing upon relevant research throughout, OPTM is geared very much on goal setting as a critical catalyst and constant benchmark. That those goals are sufficiently challenging is of key importance as shown by authors’ selected studies; simply put—the harder the goal, the more it motivates. Save for in cases of physical or mental limitations, the correlation between the level of challenge and resulting motivation has been repeatedly proven.

This provides a tremendous support for those HR professionals and managers facing adversity while continuously encouraging organizational excellence; it is not only a necessary and laudable goal, it is possible. Moreover, in the absence of such striving or challenge, a more negative malaise often settles in, a complacency into which employees settle that can swiftly flatline into mediocrity.

As a result, for the OPTM model to be effective, it is imperative that goals are carefully selected, limited in numbers and specifically-stated.  Too often still, employees are urged to “do their best” which never results in improved performance.  In contrast, clearly set goals and expectations help to stimulate motivation, like an underlying current, moving people towards sustained efforts and substantially improved performance.

Short yet equipped with a full suite of insights and tools, Effron and Ort have opened a book that broadens the talent management conversation. In doing so, they have also provided HR professionals and managers with a powerful tool: step-by-step solutions to effectively restart and accelerate talent growth geared towards generating unprecedented success.

Professional speaker, author and business coach, Isabelle St-Jean, RSW, PCC brings to her clients two decades of experience in leading, educating and providing practical solutions to major work/life challenges and transitions. (

(PeopleTalk Spring 2017)

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