What Should HR Leaders Focus On In 2014?

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The main focus for most organizations in 2014 should be on talent management and talent development, particularly the managerial and technical roles that are the difference makers.  One of the major reasons to focus on talent is that it is a great way to get the HR function into a broader discussion about what is next for the organization and what the business strategy should be. Positioning the HR function and talent management to contribute to the overall effectiveness and financial performance of the organization is the best way the HR function can add value to corporations.

The most important thing that HR should focus on in talent management is assessing the skills the organization needs to implement its strategy and the plan for recruiting and managing that critical talent. It is important to understand what the organization can do to add the right talent: Whether it is best recruited or best internally developed, and whether it is even possible to develop the right talent in order to implement business strategy. Understanding the availability of talent in combination with knowing how it is critical for the business strategy should lead to a more interactive relationship between the strategic choices of the organization and how its talent is trained and managed. Often, the reasons why business strategies fail is that they mistakenly assume that the organization can get the right talent in order to perform the way the strategy calls for. All too often organizations cannot attract or develop it, and as a result, the strategy is not feasible.

Talent has always been important, but it has increasingly become more critical because so many organizations are doing much more complex, knowledge-based work and operating globally. This has created a situation where the performance of talent has a major impact on the bottom line. The difference in many critical jobs between good talent performance and poor talent performance is 100 to 1. That reality is increasingly causing knowledge work-based organizations to focus on talent as a source of competitive advantage.

Google GOOG -0.09% is a good example of a company that has done an exceptional job of recruiting and managing people who have critical knowledge skills. It needs talented people to perform well and that translates into how they communicate about the kind of talent they are looking for and the jobs they offer. Further, they identify critical positions in the organization, where performance can differentiate them from their competitors. They make sure they fill those jobs with the right talent. This is an important and critical part of the whole recruitment and selection process. In the selection process, they ensure that they test for the ability to develop the key skills that are needed for the job.

Decades ago, Google, like 3M MMM +0.75%, began giving everybody 10-15% free time to work on their pet projects. People have used this time to come up with new business ideas and business projects. They have created work that fits the talent of the people in the organization, and they have attracted talented people to come to work for them. This allows them not only to implement their business strategy but to also grow and develop their business strategy based on the skills of their employees and their ability to attract top talent.

Why aren’t there more organizations that focus on talent? Some businessleaders think they can live without top talent. Others believe talent management is important, but they do not see it as important as finance or technology. Finally, many executives are unable to see the relationship between talent issues and the business strategy of their organization. Many executives do not have a background in talent management. They are trained in finance or engineering and they see them as the major determinants of organizational performance. The challenge for HR is not just to establish the importance of talent, but it is to link talent management to the business strategy.

Lawyers Expect IPO Boom to Roll On In 2014

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With more than 200 deals, 2013 was a blockbuster year for domestic initial public offerings—the best on record since the turn of the millennium. And some of the biggest hits, like Twitter’s hotly anticipated shares, came out of California. Issuers headquartered in the Golden State accounted for nearly 20 percent of the total IPOs, with 44 going public.

Latham & Watkins and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati shared the distinction of bringing the most California issuers to market, advising eight apiece, according to a Recorder study of geographic IPO data supplied by Renaissance Capital. Wilson Sonsini, however, which won the coveted Twitter advisory role, handily outpaced its peers in total amount raised by clients issuing shares.

Attorneys say the strength of the equity capital markets is likely to continue into the new year. If their own pipelines are any indication, many said, the first quarter is going to be busy.

The first IPO of 2014 came Friday from Maryland-based biotech company GlycoMimetics, which soared in its debut, pricing an upsized offering after it postponed its plans in November. Many similarly situated biotechs put their IPOs on hold during the last few weeks of the fourth quarter.

An end-of-year slowdown reverberated across sectors, but some attorneys said this came as no surprise. They attributed it to a few factors, investor fatigue and gains-preservation among them. After a strong year, many institutional investors “don’t want to put their bonuses at risk,” said Patrick Pohlen, a Silicon Valley–based partner at Latham & Watkins.

But the GlycoMimetrics offering—in addition to a number of biotechs waiting in the wings—shows continuing confidence in the biotech space, a sector where IPOs have sometimes struggled.

Cooley partner Charles Kim noted that several of the companies that put the brakes on their offerings have now priced, and the firm has helped seven other health care companies file publicly in recent weeks. San Diego’s Receptos Inc., which went public in May, is trading at more than double its IPO price and is planning to close a secondary offering next week.

Several factors paved the way for life sciences companies to have their biggest year in recent memory. During a sustained bull market, investors looking for significant returns might become a bit more receptive to riskier bets, like those offered by biotechs, observed Latham partner Alan Mendelson. Like other companies, life sciences firms were further empowered by the flexibility brought by the JOBS Act, which permits so-called emerging growth companies to file confidentially with the SEC and test the waters with early investor meetings.

“All in all it was a really positive year,” Mendelson said. “It was so positive I have to admit to you I got a little twitchy toward the end of the year.” As counsel, it’s important to tease out the companies that are really ready to embark on a public offering from those simply rushing out to take advantage of the open window.

“Investor demand will be there for good companies,” Cooley’s Kim said.

But with companies able to weather—and wait out—a lull, the market for biotech offerings seems to have matured a bit. Many attorneys in the life sciences space are expecting a flurry of activity on the heels of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, which begins Jan. 13 in San Francisco.

The tech industry also contributed to California’s busy launch pad. Though 2014 isn’t expected to feature the kind of shadow-casting offering that Facebook and Twitter brought to 2012 and 2013, respectively, attorneys said the pipeline of exciting, “real” companies remains strong.

The strong IPO market has inevitably drawn comparisons to 2000, and suggestions that the boom could signal a bubble poised to burst. But Silicon Valley attorneys reached by The Recorder said that although the past year was record-busting, it looks less like 2000 than one might be inclined to think. For one, there were 406 initial public offerings that year, nearly double last year’s haul. For another, the fever in the air more than a decade ago meant the companies getting to market were weaker, puffed up by hype, not financial fundamentals.

“In 2000 there were companies going public that had no business being public companies,” said Richard Kline, a partner at Goodwin Procter. “They might have had ‘clicks and eyeballs,’ but couldn’t convert on their revenue.” Today’s companies, by contrast, are profitable or have clear paths to it, he said.

Contact the reporter at callison@alm.com.

Read more: http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202637669084/Lawyers-Expect-IPO-Boom-to-Roll-On-In-2014#ixzz2qKIV1uXI