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Why People are a Company’s Products, Too

Product innovation is at the heart of Procter & Gamble’s success in numerous consumer product categories. But that isn’t the only ingredient in P&G’s secret sauce.

For a legacy company to maintain its competitive edge, it has to constantly be strategizing about the next wave of leadership that will drive results. That’s why P&G applies the same level of attention and rigor to its talent pipeline as it does to its product pipeline. says Mark Biegger, chief human resources officer for P&G.

Although the talent management process may be owned by human resources, line executives do the work, says Biegger. “We have hundreds of line leaders from all over the world involved in on-campus interviews, for example.” Those entry-level hires are seen as critical additions to P&G’s talent pipeline.

Senior executives are involved in every step, from recruiting and vetting new talent to training and development to managing employee relations issues and ultimately shepherding high potentials through their careers at P&G. “We believe that’s the role [of line executives]—to deliver the business and also to build the organization,” says Biegger, who adds that executive performance is judged, and compensation awarded, in part by how well they execute on building talent.

“We believe that’s the role [of line executives]—to deliver the business and also to build the organization.”

That tone is set from the top. David Taylor, P&G’s CEO, spends hours regularly reviewing talent strategy with Biegger and Laura Mattimore, vice president of global talent. “He also coaches other line leaders on managing talent, sharing his approach and how he’s done it,” says Biegger. “It’s a major part of who he is.”

As long as a company’s CEO is intimately involved and a believer in talent management as a business opportunity rather than strictly the task of HR, company size makes no difference as far as implementation. “I think it would be even easier to do some of these things in a smaller company,” says Mattimore, noting that small and mid-size organizations don’t have the same global complexity and hierarchies to deal with. “Even the sophisticated technologies we use today, we didn’t always have those tools at our disposal. We started doing this on simple Excel spreadsheets,” she says. “The concepts and principles have merit regardless of size.”


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