Featured Expert

Marc Effron

The Talent Strategy Group

Marc helps the world’s largest and most successful companies improve the quality and depth of their talent.

His consulting work focuses on creating clear talent strategies and on detailed talent management process design, all using the One Page Talent Management approach –Simplicity, Accountability and Transparency.

With deep consulting and corporate talent management experience, Marc provides a highly practical, broadly informed perspective to his clients.

Marc has served as Vice President, Global Talent Management for Avon Products, and started and led the Global Leadership Consulting Practice at consultancy Hewitt Associates

He was also Senior Vice President, Leadership Development for Bank of America. He previously served as a political consultant and a staff assistant to a United States Congressman.

Marc recently wrote One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value (Harvard Business Press, 2010) with co-author Miriam Ort, which was a #1 best selling HR book on Amazon.com. He also co-author Leading the Way, co-edited Human Resources in the 21st Century and has written chapters in eight management and leadership books. He is a regular columnist for Talent Management magazine and the Chinese-language HR Value magazine.

He is a sought after speaker on talent management and leadership topics by both corporations and conferences. He is widely quoted on talent issues in the business media and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Influencers in HR. He earned a M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management and a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Washington.

In 2007, Marc founded the New Talent Management Network, a non-profit networking and research organization that is now the world's largest talent management organization with more than 2,400 members.


Ques. How did you happen to envision The Talent Strategy Group? What was your inspiration behind it?

Ans. The Talent Strategy Group was envisioned as a way to help companies dramatically improve their ability to grow talent. Based on my experience as a talent executive and a consulting partner, I knew that the traditional solutions being offered by consulting firms weren’t working. I knew that a radically simpler approach to talent management – what we describe in One Page Talent Management – was the key to their success.

I also knew that the prices being charged by large consulting firms for designing talent management process were outrageous, especially considering the questionable effectiveness of what they designed. I was confident that we would be very successful if we offered superior results at a lower price. So far, it’s working very nicely . . .

Ques. Can you please share a little about the One Page Talent Management methodology? How does it help ensure picking the right people for the right job?

Ans. The One Page Talent Management (OPTM) approach focuses on successfully implementing talent management practices. We know that these pratices – from performance management to 360s – are effective only if they’re used. In too many companies however, those processes are so bureaucratic and complex that managers want nothing to do with them.

The OPTM approach fundamentally transforms how talent management practices are built and implemented. The core approach uses Simplicity, Accountability and Transparency to create talent process that are easy to use and that have clear accountabilty for implementation.

The OPTM approach can be applied across every talent process. In the selection process, it identifies the vital few factors (four or five) that differentiate high potential in a company (the Success Model). This makes it easier to evaluate talent. It then creates an easy to use assessment process to evaluate candidates against that Success Model. This results in more accurate talent choices.

Ques. Please tell us about your book “One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value”. What has it tried to capture and convey to the readers?

Ans. OPTM speaks to the fact that executives are not happy with the quality and depth of talent in their organizations. It presents a fundamentally different way to grow talent – an approach based in the strongest academic research but incredibly practical and easy to use.

We thought it was important to show HR leaders that there was an alternative to the complex, theoretical processes that they were taught to build. Most of us learned HR from professors and consultants. What they taught us was academically correct, but didn’t work in the real world. Because those academics and consultants didn’t have their annual bonus based on successful implementation (like the HR and talent leaders do), they never got the feedback that their process designs didn’t work!

Our message is that Simplicity, Accountability and Transparency will revolutionize your talent practices and give your executives the quality and depth of talent they’ve been demanding.

Ques. You had been VP Talent Management in Avon, the world's largest direct seller. Would you say that executive development there is strikingly different from that in other organizations?

Ans. As I work with clients around the world, I find that the talent issues and solutions are remarkably similar across countries and industries. All organizations are trying to solve the same problem – how to get the right people to be highly productive.

We know from the science exactly how to do that, so the challenge is one of successful implementation, not coming up with a new way to develop leaders.

Ques. You had started and led the Global Leadership Consulting Practice at Hewitt Associates. What would you say was your biggest take-away in terms of learning from that entire experience?

Ans. My experience there added to my insights about why companies succeed or fail. When I was there I created the Top Companies for Leaders research, which is now published each year by Fortune magazine. That research showed us that financially successful companies grew talent with a different approach than their less successful peers. I wrote about this in my second book Leading the Way, which said that in Top Companies:

    • The CEO and Board members are actively involved in developing talent
    • High potential leaders are carefully identified and have a meaningfully differentiated experience; and
    • Talent management practices are designed in relatively simple way and are flawlessly executed.

It was that final point that was behind our writing OPTM. We wanted to provide a practical guide for corporate talent management leaders telling them exactly how they could build Top Company-like talent practices.

Ques. You have worked in different industry sectors, from management consulting to banking, cosmetics or HR. Did you find any one of these slightly more challenging than the rest?

Ans. It would be nice if there was a perfect environment in which to do talent work. Unfortunately, they all have their unique benefits and challenges!

    • In consulting you get amazing exposure to companies around the world but work very long hours and focus on selling at least 50% of the time. There’s always a new challenge to keep your brain sharp. But, you aren’t able to control how your ideas are implemented.

    • In corporate roles you can ensure that talent is being grown in the way that you believe is most effective. The downside is that you often have many different clients within the company that have many different ideas about what’s “right.” And, of course, there are the wonderful corporate politics to manage through . . . .

Ques. You have been recognized as one of the Top 100 Influencers in HR. A word of caution that you would like to give to all the HR professionals in designing their company HR policies.

Ans. My word of caution is to always stay objective. I’ve seen far too many HR leaders “go native” and do whatever their boss requests, rather than offering an independent point of view. Successful HR leaders can’t be order-takers – they must have the courage to do what’s right.

Ques. What changes or development you anticipate in the talent management process in the next 5-6 years?

Ans. I believe that talent management will eventually become the heart of HR work. We’re seeing outsourcing of benefits, compensation, employee relations and almost every other aspect of HR. The only thing left – and the most important thing according to executives – is how talent is managed.

Ques. A motto or philosophy or idol that keeps you so passionate about your work.

Ans. When a company develops higher quality leaders, the impact extends far beyond that organization. Their leaders become higher quality parents, higher quality community members and higher quality citizens. Given these benefits, we must ensure that our companies are producing as many great leaders as efficiently as possible.

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