Rethinking Talent Management for Future Success
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.
DEFINE YOUR TALENT OBJECTIVES
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.
PLAN YOUR TALENT PROGRAM
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.
IMPLEMENT THE TALENT PROGRAM
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.
EVALUATE YOUR TALENT PROGRAM
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.