Monday, 14 July 2008

Talent Management – A top HR challenge

Not so long ago, many organisations compiled confidential lists of their “Top Managers” or “High Potentials”. People on the lists didn’t know that they had been ear marked for future greatness and the process was cloaked in secrecy.

However, the pressures of globalisation and ageing workforces have changed all this with many organisations pointing to talent management as being a top priority and implementing highly visible talent management processes and programmes.

This is supported by a survey from the Boston Consulting Group and European Association for Personnel Management which highlighted that talent management is currently the most critical challenge for HR.

The survey identified that talent shortages loom, particularly in Europe and that companies need to take steps now if they are to address these shortages in the future.

But what are the characteristics of a successful talent management programme?

  1. It is owned by the senior executives in the organisation. If the Board is not fully involved and committed to it, it won’t work.
  2. It has a clear “profile” of the skills, experiences and attributes that are needed to deliver the organisations strategy.
  3. It is visible and consistent. There must be visibility across the process (i.e. no secret lists!) and the process must eliminate as much as possible different manager’s ideas of “talent”.
  4. It has sophisticated recruitment, selection and succession planning processes to deliver the right people for the organisation.
  5. It provides a range of stretching development opportunities to enable talent to develop the necessary skills, experiences and capabilities.
  6. It identifies and raises talent related issues so that they can be dealt with appropriately. For example when a talented individual becomes disillusioned with the organisation, or is not fulfilling their potential the organisation resolves it quickly.
  7. It uses appropriate metrics to measure effectiveness.

Talent management is a key challenge for organisations and their HR functions. However, it is a challenge that needs to be addressed if organisations are to maintain their success in the future.

Retaining Talent

Retaining talent is a serious issue for many organisations. Each time a talented manager or member of staff leaves, they take valuable knowledge an expertise with them. But why do some organisations struggle to keep their talent, and why do talented people become disillusioned and leave?

One of the main reasons is that talent and their managers are often striving to climb what appears to them as the same ladder to reach higher levels in the organisation. The consequence of this is that they see themselves as “competitors” because they feel their personal career interests are in direct conflict. If the manager then resorts to “blocking“ behaviour, the talented individual quickly becomes disillusioned and leaves.

The second main reason why talent leaves is because they become “turned off” by their line manager. Talented people want stretch opportunities to prove themselves but managers can perceive that giving their staff stretch opportunities to learn and develop is a very risky business. As they are ultimately responsible for what the talent delivers, they do not want to risk their own reputation or career because a particular talent has failed to deliver. The result of this is that the talented individual feels that they are not stretched, they become frustrated and leave.

So how can organisations prevent this from happening? The key is to have a visible talent management programme that is owned by senior executives where these issues can be highlighted and dealt with. In addition, managers need to be given the skills to manage their talent appropriately and helped to understand the benefits of having talent for themselves, their team and ultimately the organisations success.

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