“Tools trump training, said Marcus Buckingham”

Marcus BuckinghamLast week, Buckingham, the author or co-author of several bestselling books — First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths and StandOut — and founder of The Marcus Buckingham Co., was the opening keynote speaker at the 18th HR Technology Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas. He began his speech by quoting Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who said that "we shape our tools, and then our tools shape us." Tools trump training, said Buckingham, regardless of how good the ideas behind the training are. We, at Talent Tools, agree, tools do trump training, and we also believe that tools teamed with training are a "lay-down misere."  

Don't get me wrong, I am a great fan of Marcus Buckingham. I have been for many years; and yes, I've read all his books and recommended most. I know where he is coming from when he said, "we haven't built our tools to serve the team leader; instead, they serve the organisation."   Instead, it's collecting data from annual engagement surveys, scrubbing it and sharing it with the CEO first, and only afterward sharing it with team leaders three or four months later. Instead, he said, team leaders should be getting that information first, and should be getting it immediately. Hear, hear! Annual employee (and customer) surveys are good for benchmarking and tracking longitudinal change. Useful stuff for upper management to monitor; but useless for managers to operationally action by the time it's been sanitised and promulgated to their level.  So it is probably a good thing when Marcus says that HR isn't sharing critical information such as  employee  engagement data directly with team leaders and managers. 

What's most distressing, he said, is that team leaders today are being undermined by tools that impede them from creating top-performing teams. What is needed today is tools that support an agility and innovation at the operational level. Tools that enable adaptive management. Buckingham explained that managers want to know three things, he said: What are my people capable of, what are they doing now and how are they feeling [now]?  This is the information that feeds adaptive management, and we at Talent Tools have the tools to give you that real-time data.  The challenge in using the adaptive management approach is having a continuous status feed of variables and dependable static data to improve management in the future and to be achieving the best possible short-term productivity.

Talent Tools for Adaptive Management

What are my people capable of?

 What are they doing now?

 How are they feeling [now]?

Talent Behavioural Profile

Talent Diagnostics


Emotional Intelligence

Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile

Talent Performance 

Talent 360


Talent Pulse

Axis NeuroPerformance

profit by locationTeam leaders are crucial to a company's success, said Buckingham, even using the same training processes team performance varies dramatically. It's a testament to the impact top-performing teams TPulse Feedback Gauges can have, he said. 

Organisations thrive when managers are able to assemble dynamic teams, he said. HR can help them do this by giving them tools based on "reliable, real-time data, not junk data," he added.  Baird and Griffin (2006) described how organisations are beginning to see self-awareness and adaptability as the two most critical employee strengths.  They note that even “the U.S. Army bases its leader training programs on these two dimensions [adaptability and self-awareness]” (p. 372).  Therefore, teams that can look at their performance (i.e., self-awareness)  and learn from it (i.e., adaptability) will be primed to succeed in today’s organisational climate. 

"You need differentiating data," he said, "the issue is whether you want good data or bad data?"


Talent Pulse is available in two versions. The Check Version provides an instant representation while, the Monitor Version checks in at regular intervals over a set period of time. Contact Talent Tools for a demo, or tap here to see more. 

RSSWebsite Design by Altitude CommunicationsFasttrack