10 Tips to Manage Talent Effectively

10 Tips to Manage Talent Effectively

Effectively managing talent is critical for project-focused companies who rely on their people to provide
value to the business. Leverage these ten tips to ensure your people are working at peak productivity,
delivering exceptional projects to delight clients, and driving organizational growth. Each of these tips will
help you manage and retain more top talent while consistently contributing to the overall business strategy.

  1. Keep Communicating – Make a conscious effort to listen and talk to your employees about their
    frustrations and aspirations within the company. Take time to really listen; remind them how much you
    appreciate their work and value their contribution to the firm. Keep the lines of communication open
    by leveraging continuous feedback sessions and implementing project-based appraisals.
  2. The Stars Are Aligned – Keep your top performers in tune with the current corporate strategy. This
    creates a culture of reciprocity and mutual understanding for both the company and its employees.
    You will start to see personal goals align with the overall organization’s goals.
  3. Emphasize Strengths – Use development plans to address the weaknesses and problems of your
    employees while honing in on their talent potential. Consider strategically assigning employees to
    projects that will help them strengthen new skills. Utilize development plans, career paths, and
    learning opportunities to help employees recognize their strengths while closing competency gaps.
  4. Think Like a Headhunter – When it comes to your top talent you must know who they are, what skills
    they possess, and their potential within your firm before someone else does. There are few things
    worse than losing an important project leader or an individual contributor at a critical juncture in a project
    delivery cycle. Think like a recruiter and cultivate your existing talent by including them in succession
    plans. Employees are more likely to stay with you longer if they understand their path within your
  5. Be More Inclusive – Research shows that 75% of diverse organizations are more likely to see their
    innovative ideas brought to life. This statistic stems from leaders embracing diversity and encouraging
    their employees to speak up about their opinions. Creating a diverse and inclusive environment
    allows employees and managers to embrace innovation.
  6. Know What Success Looks Like – Define success by creating competency models. The ability to
    measure your employees’ performance allows you to determine their success within the construct of
    your company. Best-in-class companies don’t rely on subjective thoughts to determine their talent
    performance, but rather, they create competency models throughout their organization to build a
    model of sustainable success.
  7. Who’s Ready to Move Up? – Identifying potential leaders is one step towards filling vacant leadership
    roles. The second step is to have a clear path to identify and develop their skills. Most companies
    identify but forget to develop leadership skills. Take the time to identify, develop, and refine your
    potential leaders.
  8. Plan, Plan, Plan – The best thing you can do to face the competition for talent is to plan. Creating and
    building a robust and comprehensive talent management solution strategy is a big feat. Take the time
    to plan and build your talent management solution strategy for effective and sustainable success
    that flows from within.
  9. Embrace Data – Big Data seems overwhelming, but with the help of a unified technology solution, it
    can be a manageable and powerful tool to fuel the success of your company. Having a unified HR
    technology solution can help you handle talent-related data and provide straightforward and
    powerful analytics utilized in all stages of the talent management strategy.
  10. Reduce Turnover, But Do It Right – Low turnover sounds great, but make sure that the small number
    of people leaving are not your best people. Turnover is expensive, but no matter the size, make sure
    that the attrition of your best talent stays low. Top performers are difficult to replace and can have
    a material impact on your project delivery
HR Monster Mash: Week 3

HR Monster Mash: Week 3

Welcome back to Week 3 of the HR Monster Mash!

This week, we’re talking about Witches & Warlocks – employees who cast a spell on the work environment creating a toxic work culture. Toxic employees come in many forms, cause harm, and spread their bad behavior to others. Let’s review the cast of characters.

“Not my problem” and their cousin “Not my job” – This employee does the bare minimum to get by, complains when asked to help out, and if what is being requested doesn’t fall squarely in his or her ball court, good luck getting the assist! The risk here is this bare minimum attitude is contagious, other employees may decide it’s just the standard. So, what do you do? First, let’s look at what might be motivating this behavior. An employee may feel like the company doesn’t really care about them, they are just a “number” or “it’s just a job”.  So, he or she does only what is required and is first out the door at closing time.

Employees may be more willing to go the extra mile if they feel leadership is willing to invest in their career development. Schedule some time for an open and honest career goals discussion. Set clear expectations, lay out a plan for career development with regular check-ins, holding the employee accountable for continued progress. With a little focused attention, “Not my problem” could transform into “Put me in coach!”

Eeyore – This employee is best described as mopey, depressed-like, and generally negative. While we want everyone to feel welcome to express their opinions, the Eeyore tends to only express negativity and focuses on the problem without bringing ideas for a solution. All you need do is turn on the evening news or look at social media to know, bad news is popular and can spread like wildfire!

While it may not be Eeyore’s intention to usher in the rain cloud, the negativity has the potential to be a real morale buster! Your employees may feel like they need to look at rainbows and kittens just to make it through the rest of the day after encountering an Eeyore.

There are a few things you might try in this situation. Set aside a few minutes of each team meeting and ask employees to share some positive news. Encourage, and potentially incentivize celebrating the successes of others. If you are in an office setting, you might keep blank notecards handy that anyone can grab to write an encouraging note to a deserving co-worker. Virtual notes are just as encouraging! Consider creating a contest where your team emphasizes positive feedback. An increasingly popular idea is an electronic system which awards points for praise, and then the points can be redeemed for merchandise.

Gossip Girl (not the TV series) – We all love a little drama, but the Gossip Girl (or Guy) is someone who thrives on drama and talks eagerly and casually about other people. They like to hear the latest news about people and may seek out opportunities to interact with others, intent on prying into everyone’s life, sucking up all the gory details like a vacuum cleaner on Sunday.

If it starts with “Did you hear” — just don’t.

So, what’s the best way to handle this issue? It’s simple— gossip should not be tolerated. A one on one meeting is a must. It’s important to let this employee know that his or her behavior is disruptive, unprofessional and diminishes the respect and dignity of other employees, be quick to set boundaries and stay firm.

“Not my Fault” – This employee refuses to admit when they are wrong, is quick to point the finger, and is more concerned with defending themselves than finding a solution to a problem. They don’t embrace the “we are all in this together” attitude, but rather only look out for themselves. In this toxic situation, it is important to listen first and to test the claims. Is the passing of the ‘proverbial buck’ a symptom of poor performance? Try assigning this employee more solo assignments, then carefully review their work. If there are no other co-workers to blame, any persistent claims of not being at fault will become more transparent. Better to remedy poor performance sooner, than later.

Toxic employees and the toxic culture they bring come with a price tag. Research shows that good employees are 54 percent more likely to quit a toxic work environment and team wide performance drops by 30 to 40 percent. What’s the best way to avoid a toxic employee culture? To not hire them in the first place. Careful screening and leadership development are the top ways to build a strong culture.


What did you think of the different types of witches and warlocks? Have you encountered any of these in the workplace? Let us know what you did to help solve the dilemma! 


Your competitors are turning to Continuous Performance Management, are you?

Your competitors are turning to Continuous Performance Management, are you?

We have been reading about Continuous Performance Management for years. Initially, the concept seemed like a great direction, but for many it just “wasn’t time yet” to transition.

Even though we understand that engaged employees fuel business and project success, transformation is difficult. We may be constrained by understaffed Human Resources teams and lack of organizational buy-in. Certain members of leadership feel lost without attaching employee performance to a number for various purposes.

According to this CoreAxis article, 45% of HR Leaders do not think annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for an employee’s work. Additionally, according to the 2019 Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Survey, the top 3 challenges participants are facing managing talent are: career development planning, employee engagement, and performance management.

With this information, why are we allowing this organizational resistance to deter us from impacting lives, transforming and modernizing our organizations’ processes, and solving tomorrow’s staffing challenges today? This resistance is holding us back from taking care of our most precious resource, the people we need and value. It is way past the right time to make a shift, and start changing and modernizing for all the right reasons.


Expectations of the modern project-based workforce are high, especially in a candidate-driven market with low unemployment. The modern project-based workforce craves variety, autonomy, and constant development. They are looking for opportunities to showcase their skills, be competitive, and advance.


We know the expectations and needs of the workforce are shifting and still we are not acting. The companies that do act now will have a significant advantage. As an example, consider the following:

  • According to a SHRM/Globoforce Survey, 89% of HR leaders surveyed agree ongoing feedback and check-ins have a positive impact on their organizations, yet according to Gallup, only 19% of millennials say they receive routine feedback, and only 17% say the feedback they receive is meaningful.
  • Consider that if you had to engage a 3rd party recruiting firm to replace just one disengaged employee (let’s use an Engineer for example), you are most likely paying a 25% fee of $21,000-$31,000 to replace a key performer. How much revenue must your organization generate to cover that expense? What else could you do from an employee development perspective for your entire organization with $21,000-$31,000?


Annual appraisals are often viewed as inaccurate and unhelpful, so why wouldn’t we be willing to spend 10-12 hours per year on something highly impactful rather than wasting 6-8 hours on something that is not? In addition, organizations can rely on technology to alleviate training and consistency issues when it comes to supporting conversations, those between Manager and Employee.


Any time an organization attempts to rebuild performance management processes, it is imperative to build off of these two key principles:

  1. Performance management should fuel the employee’s development and growth. It must be objective, impactful, authentic, and intentional. Employees must have the opportunity to drive and steer their careers while engaged in continuous development that allows them to grow and provide for themselves, their families, etc.
  2. Performance management must also have an obvious alignment to the organization, and a substantial mutual benefit that increases profitability and organizational success. Employees drive their development, and managers facilitate it.


Three are three ingredients at the core of the Continuous Performance Management recipe:

#1 Continuous Feedback

There is a common misconception Continuous Feedback is just a “check-in.” This sells the process way short. Continuous Feedback, while it can be used to fuel the check-in process, goes substantially further. It can be used to pull in third parties such as project leads and owners, matrix managers, HR, and peers. It should be used to keep project leads/owners or managers in lock-step with team members and employees, but should also be used to discuss Learning outcomes and practical application, project milestone progress, and goals/development progress. It can even be used to have real-time discussions on items the employee will be rated on for their appraisal. Note that according to the same SHRM/Globoforce survey, semiannual appraisals accompanied by continuous feedback are twice as likely to be accepted and viewed as accurate than annual appraisals without ongoing feedback.

#2 Continuous Goal Management

This process is exactly as it sounds, allowing for managing goals continuously, outside of a traditional appraisal workflow. It provides the opportunity for a fluid view of the employee and is not time-boxed looking at human beings in six-month or one-year increments. Our lives are those of a continuous progression, as should our performance and growth be managed.

#3 Development Plans

These are starting to gain a lot of steam, but something that has been central to the Deltek Talent Management system for a long time. Development plans should be used for three key benefits:

  1. Onboarding- not the onboarding of new hire form completion, but the onboarding that quickly engages a new hire and focuses on the most effective and efficient way to onboard them to the point where they become a billable or productive resource.
  2. Role Proficiency/Mastery- once billable or productive, this new plan now focuses on becoming a high performer in the role.
  3. Upskill/Reskill- this final plan is implemented to prepare the employee for promotion into management or technical lead positions, or to reskill them for a transition to a different area of your organization.


It is a simple and highly compelling concept to realize that revolutionizing your performance management process to meet the needs of the modern workforce is quite simple. The 2019 Deltek Clarity Government Contracting Survey shows that Continuous Performance Management is considered to be the most important Human Capital Management trend to focus on. With your competitors keenly aware of this issue, and your organization suffering from stagnancy and engagement/retention issues, are you ready to make the transition? Deltek’s expertise in performance management and project-based business support is the key missing component to your organization’s success.

Increase Employee Engagement with Continuous Goal Management

Increase Employee Engagement with Continuous Goal Management

Only 40% of employees strongly agree that in the last year, they have had opportunities to learn and grow and almost 80% of employees feel that they do not have performance metrics that are within their control, according to research conducted by Gallup. There are ways to fill these gaps in your talent management strategy and ensure that your employees have access to the growth opportunities they want and the learning options that they need. You can even align all of these efforts with the strategic goals of your firm while retaining more top talent.

Continuous goal management enables employees and managers to keep track of their goals all year round, without these goals necessarily being tied to a performance review to do so. This makes it easy for both managers and employees to set, update progress, and review goals at any point in time. This makes it easy to be adaptive throughout the year, aligning goals to current business requirements, changes in responsibility, or new projects. By regularly reviewing progress, opportunities for development can be identified quickly, instead of waiting until the annual appraisal.

Increase Employee Engagement with Continuous Goal Management

Employee Engagement

Administrators can maintain a library of goals for use by employees. This can aid in goal setting, giving employees a starting point for the types of goals that are used across the organization.

Employee Engagement

Employees can access their goals, both those set within the appraisal and those from continuous goal management, from the My Goals link under Performance.

Employee Engagement

Both employees and managers can set goals for employees. This is done with a simple one-step process.  They can choose goals from the library, past appraisals, or other employees as a starting point, or create their own goals. This include SMART goal instructions to help make the goal Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Goals can be based on a scale, numerical target, percentage complete, complete/incomplete, or with no score for informational purposes.

Employee Engagement

Report: The Digital HR Function

Managers can access employee goals from the Actions menu for an employee. This will give them a listing of all active employee goals, both those set within appraisals and those through continuous goal management. For example, we can see the goal set by Matthew and review it here. They have the option to edit goals, update goal status, retire goals, or delete goals. Any updates to goal progress made here will also update these goals within appraisals, so that all goals can easily be tracked in one place.

Employee Engagement

Goals can dynamically be added to employee appraisals, similar to how job competencies can be automatically added. When you add the new Employee Goals category to the appraisal workflow, in the Content step, the option to Include Active Employee Goals is available, that will pull in any active employee goals into the appraisal automatically.

New Year, New Performance Management Process

New Year, New Performance Management Process

Why Your Firm Needs to Implement Continuous Feedback Now

group of asian colleagues collaborating around computers at open office spaceContinuous feedback and goal-based performance management strategies can help to more quickly and easily drive consistency in employee development and engagement in your organization. This modern approach is a key strategy for businesses that have employees constantly rotating on and off projects. Continuous feedback discussions can drive productive performance management conversations between employees and managers that in turn, can help to drive employee engagement, productivity, and even profitability.

We like to talk about continuous feedback at Deltek, the performance management method our teams use.  If you’re new to the continuous feedback method, it includes ongoing feedback between two or more parties. These active discussions provide opportunities to check-in, build relationships between employees and managers, foster innovation and creativity, and address action items or issues. Sessions can focus on various aspects of performance; such as initial feedback when a new hire joins the company, general check-ins throughout the year, project-based feedback around an employee’s involvement in a project, growth opportunities for the employee, progress tracking toward goals, salary discussions, and performance review discussions.

One of the top challenges facing firms cited in Deltek’s Clarity surveys year after year is “Employee Retention.” Poor retention results in the constant need for firms to recruit new employees, especially in fast-growing organizations. When organizations are stuck in recruitment mode, it can be nearly impossible to advance strategic initiatives that would actually have a positive impact on employee engagement and retention. It can be a vicious cycle if you get caught in it.

Consider this:

  • According to Gallup, only 30% of employees strongly agree that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress
  • Additional research shows that people aren’t motivated by outdated annual performance reviews. Only 21% of employees strongly agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work
  • Only 19% of millennials say they receive routine feedback. An even smaller percentage of millennials (17%) say the feedback they do receive is meaningful

As managers and leaders, one of our top priorities is to maximize the output, productivity, and efficiency of our people.  We know the key to achieving this is retaining, engaged employees who know what to do and how to do it. So why are we not talking to our employees more regularly?  Often times, even when feedback is being provided, there are issues with the quality of that feedback.  Managers may be biased, causing their feedback to come across as being tinted with favoritism or inconsistent in terms of timing and delivery.  Feedback can be perceived as untimely, irrelevant, or lacking in specificity if it isn’t given at the right point in time (such as at the end of an employee’s engagement in a project).

Many managers and employees experience fear and discomfort around feedback discussions. Often there is uncertainty around how to broach topics that need to be covered or what type of reaction it will trigger when you do.  Some managers fear the effect of the discussion on their popularity and may feel uncomfortable with being direct and/or critical. These types of discussions are MUCH easier and more comfortable when the exchange is relevant, timely, and objective. This also helps to alleviate concerns around being too critical. Regular and consistent interactions can go a long way to help employees and managers develop a good rapport for making even difficult conversations less scary and intense.

My colleagues and I have benefited immensely from the continuous feedback model that we use. I know your employees will, too.

Under-Utilized Features: Employee Recognition , 360 Reviews, and Project Appraisals

Under-Utilized Features: Employee Recognition , 360 Reviews, and Project Appraisals

As a part of our underused Talent Management features series, we wanted to highlight some of the different ways you can recognize the accomplishments of your employees. In this post, we will walk through three underused Talent Management features: Employee Recognition, 360 Reviews, and Project Appraisals. Each of these features makes it easy for you to recognize your employees and for your employees to recognize each other.

We often talk about the modern workforce in our posts, but I think the desire for recognition is pretty universal. Your employees want to feel like they are contributing to your business and they want to know that they are having a positive impact on their colleagues. It can be difficult to find the time to create these types of programs and that’s why we’ve built features into Talent Management to help you create a positive culture of recognition and collaboration. If you’d like to learn more or see these features in action, check out our recent demo called “Give Employees What They Crave: Recognition.”

#1) Employee Recognition

Within Deltek Talent Performance, employees can submit recognition for other employees in the organization.  The employee giving recognition can provide information by selecting “create new employee recognition” and inputting information for one or more employees. They can include specifics about the situation and the skills and competencies that the employee or team demonstrated.

Once employee recognition has been given, the employee who gave this recognition can see the feedback they’ve given and received, and can drill down to view the details of each entry.  This screen lists recognition created by the logged in user, as well as recognition submitted by other employees to recognize the currently logged in user.

employee recognition tool screenshot

Employees can view the feedback they have given and received

When the entry is submitted, an email notification is sent to the employee being recognized, his or her manager, and the user who submitted the entry. Additionally, both the manager and employee can access recognition as a part of the employee’s performance review.

preview company appraisal screenshot

Include Employee Recognition entries in performance discussions

#2) 360 Reviews

Another way to collect information is through the use of 360 appraisals. These reviews expand the performance process from managers/team leads and employees to others who have information about the employee’s performance (both inside and outside of the organization). Managers can easily launch a 360 using a workflow template and choose who the feedback will be requested from.

new 360 assessment screenshot

360 Reviews are easy and intuitive to launch and use

If you enable the option, employees can also recommended others they would like to participate. It is also possible to keep the participants anonymous in the employee’s view. Once all participants are confirmed, the manager can review and advance the 360 to the next phase. At this point, participants in the 360 receive an email notification with a link to the solution to complete their task.  They are able to review the items included in the form, as well as provide comments where applicable.

As participants complete the review, managers can view who has/hasn’t completed their tasks.  They can drill-down into each completed review to see individual responses.  They also have a summary view available to them to see results side-by-side.

step 2 of 360 assessment wizard screenshot

All completed 360s are stored within the employee’s past appraisals section

Additionally, a project team lead can launch project 360s for members of the project team. External participants (such as the client they worked with) can also be included to obtain feedback on project delivery. Reports on 360s are also available, making it easy to see what feedback is being captured.

#3 Project-Based Appraisals

What can you do to make sure that the feedback you’re providing your employees is both timely and relevant? One answer may be at your fingertips. There are many different ways to manage employee performance, ranging from annual performance reviews to continuous feedback sessions. Deltek’s strong focus on projects means we also provide project-based appraisals for your project team members. This makes it easy to involve project managers in the review process and solicit feedback on employee performance at the end of projects they are engaged in.

Within Talent Development, project teams can be added and team members and a team lead established.

project team for business process improvements screenshot

As a part of the project team, performance reviews can be launched for team members by the team lead.

Project reviews can include goals, competencies, achievements, and other components. These components are then available for review and scoring by the team lead. This means your employees are getting relevant and timely feedback that can be immediately applied to their next project. You will create a culture of performance and recognition while helping your employees to develop and advance more quickly.

If you are looking for ways to drive employee engagement and improve performance across your project teams, then you’ve found a great place to get started with these features.

The three features discussed here are easy to use and easy to implement.  Make sure to subscribe to hear more about ways you could be leveraging your Talent Management solution more fully.