The Talent Stakes
The talent stakes continue to grow. And the talent holds a lot of the cards.
Demographic changes have triggered skill shortages in certain fields leaving organisations with problems attracting critical-skill employees. Globalisation and technology now empower talented individuals to find opportunities anywhere in the world. Career expectations continue to evolve, with Generation Y expecting multiple employers and several discreet careers during their lifetime. The end of ‘jobs-for-life’ encouraged employees to manage their own career, and the most talented and entrepreneurial are doing so in our web-enabled, real-time, face-paced world with ease and success.
Global organisations meanwhile need to find talent faster, knowing that the speed at which they can move talent to the right place leads to their competitive advantage. They need to keep talent longer, knowing the high costs of turnover amongst high potentials, and the timescales to replace them.
The problem is, many organisations still have poor visibility of their ‘talent’. They haven’t defined it. They don’t explicitly measure it. They have ill-defined subjective impressions of their ‘top performers’ and ‘stars’ but they hesitate to treat them any differently preferring to take an egalitarian approach, treating all employees ‘fairly’. In short, they don’t manage their talent.
Does that matter? Isn’t all this talk about talent management just another fad that will soon pass and give way to the next?
I agree that the words may pass, the terminology and some of the gimmicks and ‘frameworks’ and ‘paradigms’. But as competition looks set to only increase in our global economy, and as technology enables those with the will and foresight to manage talent better (either their own or that of their organization), I believe that the management of talent will increasingly be a key differentiator between organizational success and failure.
Twelve Talent Trends
It’s a significant investment decision to invest in managing talent to the optimum. Like any other such decision, a return on investment needs to be demonstrated. Any amongst those organisations who have decided to make this investment, certain key trends are noticeable:
- Senior Sponsorship
The CEO and Executive Team include talent amongst their top priorities. They are not sponsors in name only, but have regular involvement and insight into talent metrics.
Line managers and executives are held accountable for selecting, and growing talent. This is no longer an HR KPI, but has moved to those who have day to day responsibility.
This is not paternalism. Employees share responsibility for forging their own development and career paths, harnessing tools & support from the organization.
- Talent Sharing
Talent is seen as a shared asset of the entire organization, not to be hoarded or exploited for the benefit of one function or ‘silo’. Talent production and growth is rewarded, while talent hoarding is penalized.
- Pipeline Approach
Performance and potential are increasingly differentiated, with a focus on readiness for the next move rather than a static assessment of performance in the current role
- Long Term
Talent strategies move from being simply position replacement to being long term projected needs, often including management of career pools of critical skilled employees
- Career Mobility
Increasingly fluid and mobile career paths become the norm, with facilitation of lateral, cross-functional, cross-border moves, in order to be ready for promotional opportunities
The opaque talent practices of the past are replacement by refreshing transparency, with an openness to discuss how talent is defined, measured, rewarded and managed
Complexity has been replaced by fewer, simple processes. Making the tools realistic for line managers and executives to use in their every day work lives is a key to success.
These organisations are comfortable to differentiate between different talent groups, being explicit about the rationale, the expected outcomes, and the potential to move between groups
Where different business units used to have freedom to develop their own talent tools, this led to a lack of visibility across the organization, hampering moves, development and pooling of resources. Increasingly consistent frameworks and metrics are applied across entire organisations who are serious about maximizing their talent.
- Discipline and Rigour
Using the simple tools, with top executive sponsorship, talent management moves from being a ‘once in a year’ review meeting, to an everyday responsibility included in metrics, agendas and conversations throughout the year.
In the next article we will see how technology can streamline these processes of change in talent management and provide visibility to the strategic HR function.