Chronus—A Development Approach to Talent Management

Headquartered in Seattle and founded by former employees at Microsoft and Oracle, Chronus focuses on talent development within corporate, government, and educational institutions. Chronus’ software solutions aim to help organizations to administer mentoring activities and programs, deliver and scale these programs beyond what can be done manually, as well as help participants be successful in these programs.

Company Background

Of course, Chronus talent development suite is not intended to replace professionals involved in coaching and mentoring processes, but it helps streamline and standardize these processes within an organization. The tool therefore facilitates person-to-person professional connections and long-term employee development, which typically cannot be fostered within a more formal learning environment. To date, Chronus has about half a million users worldwide.

The company’s initial principal source of revenue was from clients in education—where student mentoring is very popular, but as the company grew, it garnered more corporate and government clients. The Chronus talent development suite can be employed to deliver general career mentoring programs (intended to develop individual skills for a certain job) as well as more focused career development programs (leadership development, executive coaching, etc). All these programs can run at the same time. 

The company began operations as a mentoring and coaching enterprise, but upon becoming more acquainted with the possibilities folded within mentoring and coaching, it expanded further. Corporate customers—the company’s main target—typically need to address employee retention challenges, which unveil perhaps problematic aspects of the company’s care for its employees: employee development, employee satisfaction, new employee integration, etc. So an organization oftentimes does not come to Chronus to start a mentoring program, per se, but rather an employee development program or an onboarding program.

Extending Onboarding

Mentoring can be viewed narrowly—i.e., matching young apprentice to a senior expert. Or, it can be viewed more liberally, as a technique that has various use cases and ways to impact the talent development life cycle. For example, one of the applications of mentoring is targeted at new employees of an organization. After going through the first week of introductions, organizations have to figure out how to integrate new hires into the overall flow of an organization and get them learning quickly so that they can do their jobs. The notion of extended onboarding is a great use case for mentoring. This allows companies to go further and complement the initial training period that they typically offer to new hires with mentoring activities.

Developing Talent

Besides addressing employee retention challenges, the Chronus suite also tackles practical aspects of talent development programs. These types of programs tend to be quite elaborate from an administrative side, as they involve several different tasks: enrolling employees into mentoring or coaching programs, matching them with the right person for mentoring purposes, tracking their performance, or intervening when their performance is not up to par or when red flags are raised. All these hurdles limit talent development programs from spanning across an organization to instead concentrating only at the management and senior executives’ level. Software facilitates most of these tedious tasks, enabling these programs to span across the organization.

Automated compatibility score supports intelligent matching

Optimizing Mentoring Programs

Additionally, Chronus dedicates time to its clients to help them configure the system to their needs given that no two mentoring or coaching programs are the same. A case in point is the application in charge of matching the right employee with the right expert. When it comes to mentoring, for instance, the core elements that go into the mix of things are the employee’s need for and interest in a certain area of development and the corresponding attributes from the mentor pool. Next, the solution takes into account common predilections or shared experiences—e.g., if two people went to the same college or worked in the past for the same employer. Lastly, individual compatibility is also taken into account, which allows each mentee to choose a mentor of the same gender or same age range, for example.

Dashboard to view the health of mentoring/coaching programs

Chronus Flexibility

The solution is flexible, allowing employers to set up a general set of rules that individual employees can fine-tune. In fact, for some more liberal organizations, if you will, the solution can be configured such that it is completely administered by the employee, with employee self-picked mentoring programs. These programs can be either one-on-one or in a group setting, and can last as long as the employer sees fit.

The advantage of Chronus’ flexibility comes also from the fact that it can continue or improve the mentoring programs that companies already have in place. In other words, the solution does not confine its clients’ requirements to a limited number of models that mentoring and coaching programs are expected to follow. Instead, it recognizes that there are no two identical mentoring or coaching programs and it accommodates all possible flavors.

Chronus Suite—Mentoring, Coaching, Collaborating

Furthermore, Chronus’ platform offers a number of features, such as workflows, which provide structure to the programs and allow users to set goals, milestones, tasks, etc. This departs from the more unstructured social model, which does not facilitate building talent development programs with outcome measures.

Setting goals and milestones

The Chronus suite has three different solutions which serve different use cases:

  • Chronus Mentor—places the mentee at its core to ensure activity completion and participant satisfaction. The progress of employees can be monitored and the overall success of a program can be analyzed thanks to real-time analytics and reporting capabilities.
  • Chronus Coach—focuses on the coach’s responsibility to assess and evaluate needs, track progress of coachee participation, and continuously collect feedback.
  • Chronus Learn—extends training beyond the classroom with a blended learning format.
As Chronus is not a talent management suite, it is capable of integrating with solutions that have an employee system of record, from where its solutions can import the necessary data and, furthermore, upon the completion of a mentoring or coaching program update the employer’s HR/HCM system. The integration delivers a unified environment where employees can access a mentoring program, for example, without knowing that it is delivered through a separate solution. Similarly, the solution can sit on top of community software solutions—such as Yammer or Jive—thus eliminating multiple login points for users.

Final Word

The company uses a direct sales as well as a channel partner approach to engaging prospects. Additionally, it also partners with consulting firms specializing in mentoring and coaching to complement its tools with subject matter expertise. In the future, Chronus will be announcing a series of partnerships with other HCM technology providers to ensure better market visibility and attract new clients.
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