Re­think­ing Tal­ent Man­age­ment for Fu­ture Suc­cess

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Writ­ten by: Arinya Talerngsri

Tal­ent is such a buzz­word but many of us are still con­fused about what it really means. We’re not al­ways sure what it is, but we’re sure we need it. The big­gest ques­tion though is: do we truly value tal­ent? How well can we man­age it? Do we really man­age tal­ent at all?

Tal­ent man­age­ment as a con­cept is noth­ing new; you can Google it, read about it, find it in a num­ber of text­books. In re­al­ity, how­ever, not ev­ery the­ory can be im­ple­mented and ap­plied for ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion. In­stead, now more than ever lead­ers and HR prac­ti­tion­ers alike need to pick and choose best fit prac­tices by con­sid­er­ing what is best for their or­ga­ni­za­tion, where they are go­ing and what their cur­rent needs are.

The world is shift­ing at an ex­tremely fast pace and busi­nesses need to ac­cel­er­ate, im­prove and adapt just as quickly in or­der to keep up with the chang­ing re­quire­ments. Con­se­quently, when busi­nesses can no longer op­er­ate un­der the old pa­ram­e­ters, it’s the peo­ple, who are the key driv­ing force in ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion, that need to evolve their skills and ca­pa­bil­i­ties ac­cord­ingly.

Af­ter 25 years in the field of or­ga­ni­za­tional and peo­ple de­vel­op­ment, I have no­ticed dra­mat­i­cally chang­ing pat­terns that could change the na­ture of in­ter­ac­tions and re­la­tion­ships among busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als. Com­pa­nies have to re­design their prod­ucts, ser­vices and strate­gies to stay rel­e­vant in the mar­ket.

Sim­i­larly, as the war for tal­ent has be­come in­evitable, com­pa­nies re­al­ize more and more that find­ing and hir­ing the right tal­ent in­creases their chances of win­ning. The in­creas­ingly free move­ment of skilled la­bor cer­tainly ex­pands op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to choose where they want to work, not where or­ga­ni­za­tions need them. All th­ese rea­sons com­bined are forc­ing com­pa­nies to re­think their tal­ent man­age­ment pro­grams.

Tech­nol­ogy and so­ci­etal changes de­mand that work­ers in each in­dus­try be­come more spe­cific in terms of skills and ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which means com­pa­nies need to dou­ble their ef­forts in ac­quir­ing them.

For ex­am­ple, in the property in­dus­try the spot­light is cur­rently on down­town con­dos as peo­ple look for eas­ier trans­porta­tion op­tions to get to and from work. As a re­sult, en­gi­neers with ex­per­tise in con­struct­ing high- rise build­ing are needed along with in­te­rior de­sign­ers ca­pa­ble of uti­liz­ing small spa­ces.

In hos­pi­tal­ity, the usual on- the- ground mar­ket­ing cam­paign is be­com­ing ob­so­lete whereas vi­ral mar­ket­ing is be­com­ing key in at­tract­ing new cus­tomers. The prob­lem is that most firms are still lack­ing tal­ent equipped with dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing skills so com­pe­ti­tion for them be­comes even more chal­leng­ing. In short, each in­dus­try has unique op­por­tu­ni­ties and bar­ri­ers that will de­ter­mine the pace and de­gree of change re­quired and unique im­pli­ca­tions for both con­sumers and work­force.

In the past, com­pa­nies strug­gling with this prob­lem would sim­ply adopt some offthe- shelf tal­ent man­age­ment prac­tice, but given the chang­ing busi­ness con­di­tion and the shift­ing re­quire­ment of skills and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the work­forces, a one­size-fits- all tal­ent man­age­ment pro­gram is no longer fea­si­ble. In­stead, cus­tom­ized tal­ent so­lu­tions in­clud­ing not only tal­ent man­age­ment but de­vel­op­ment and re­ten­tion prac­tices are the new norm.

Now, if you agree that busi­ness re­quire­ments are rapidly chang­ing along with your work­force needs, I will share a few places you can start to re- eval­u­ate and re­de­ploy your tal­ent ef­forts to se­cure the peo­ple you need for to­day and tomorrow.


In re­al­ity, a good tal­ent man­age­ment pro­gram should start with a very clear tal­ent ob­jec­tive: why are you do­ing it

and what do you want to get out of it in a long run?

If your or­ga­ni­za­tion feels the urge to adopt tal­ent man­age­ment prac­tices just be­cause oth­ers do it, with­out any ob­jec­tive and with­out any com­mit­ment – then don’t waste your time and your bud­get. This is be­cause many or­ga­ni­za­tions tend to ini­ti­ate tal­ent man­age­ment pro­grams as a re­ac­tion to in­ci­dents, such as rapid turnover or the frus­tra­tion of top man­age­ment in not get­ting the right work­force skills. What­ever the mo­tives might be, if or­ga­ni­za­tions sim­ply per­form tal­ent man­age­ment with­out really defin­ing their tal­ent ob­jec­tives, pro­grams will not yield a high re­turn on in­vest­ment or value over time. It’s bet­ter to be clear on your ob­jec­tives from the very be­gin­ning.


It is crit­i­cal to iden­tify and dis­tin­guish your work­force needs in or­der to plan your tal­ent pro­gram.

Tal­ent usu­ally means employees who can not only per­form well in their cur­rent roles but also demon­strate strong po­ten­tial to grow and ex­pand in un­fa­mil­iar roles. High per­form­ers, on the other hand, are a group of employees who con­sis­tently per­form well in given roles but may have lim­ited po­ten­tial to be stretched to work in un­fa­mil­iar roles or take on greater re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Al­though many stud­ies show that tal­ent can cre­ate a much greater im­pact and longer- term strate­gic value, high per­form­ers - oth­er­wise known as work­horses - do con­trib­ute greatly to the compa- ny’s cur­rent busi­ness suc­cess. There­fore, plan­ning a tal­ent pro­gram shouldn’t ne­glect this fact and should find a way to keep this group of employees mo­ti­vated and con­tin­u­ing to de­liver the de­sired value to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

In this sense, when there are dif­fer­ent types of work­force groups, or­ga­ni­za­tions can­not just im­ple­ment one tal­ent pro­gram for all, rather they need to cus­tom­ize the pro­gram for each group of work­ers to suit their needs, roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.


The most crit­i­cal part of the tal­ent pro­gram is the right im­ple­men­ta­tion. “Who should own the pro­gram?” “Who should lead the im­ple­men­ta­tion?” “Who is ac­count­able for groom­ing tal­ent? “Th­ese ques­tions are cru­cial and the right an­swer is definitely not HR. In­stead, it is busi­ness lead­ers work­ing closely with all those tal­ents. HR can only pro­vide pro­cesses and de­vel­op­ment pro­grams and tools to sup­port. Too many tal­ent pro­grams fail due to not get­ting the right sup­port from top man­age­ment.


To keep abreast of an ever- chang­ing work­force and the needs of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, a tal­ent man­age­ment pro­gram re­quires con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment by prop­erly re­view­ing its process as well as the vis­i­bil­ity of tal­ent in­for­ma­tion, and defin­ing clear suc­cess mea­sures at all times. In other words, re­searches shows that suc­cess­ful tal­ent pro­grams are flex­i­ble enough to meet con­stant changes in sur­round­ing con­di­tions. Sim­ply put, glob­al­iza­tion has cre­ated changes at all lev­els in the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and se­cur­ing the most suit­able can­di­dates to join your tal­ent pool is in­creas­ingly a crit­i­cal suc­cess fac­tor.

If you look closely, the war for tal­ent will only get fiercer in the fu­ture given the ag­ing pop­u­la­tion, the so­cial/ cul­tural or lan­guage bar­ri­ers, the lack of in­fra­struc­ture, as well as the low stan­dards of ed­u­ca­tion which se­verely limit the po­ten­tial of many. As the skills short­age is ex­ac­er­bated, hir­ing will be more fo­cused on hav­ing a glob­ally di­verse and highly mo­bile tal­ent pool.

How­ever, the usual off- the- shelf tal­ent man­age­ment prac­tices will not do the trick any­more given the chang­ing busi­ness re­quire­ments and the di­verse work­force and that is why it is crit­i­cal for com­pa­nies to re­think their prac­tices, re­design and tai­lor them to suit their con­text, cul­ture, and work­ing style.

All in all, when the tal­ent map loses its bor­ders and when you can fill la­bor pools by sourc­ing the best avail­able tal­ents world­wide, busi­ness will need to re­align their work­force and lead­er­ship with their new global man­date by en­sur­ing their lead­ers and man­agers have a mind­set that can op­er­ate across bor­ders and cul­tures. At the same time, tal­ent man­age­ment prac­tices need to be rein­vented to re­main rel­e­vant and help or­ga­ni­za­tions nav­i­gate a mul­ti­fac­eted and chang­ing global la­bor mar­ket.

Arinya Talerngsri is Group Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor at Apmgroup. She can be con­tacted at arinya_ t@ apm. co. th.

Arinya Talerngsri

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