Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do We Really Understand What Talent Really Is?

Cindy McCauley and Michael Wakefield remind us that “today's businesses face increased global competition, shifting markets, and unforeseen events. No wonder they are finding it more difficult than ever to attract, develop, and retain the skilled workers they need. Human resources (HR) departments can set the stage for success by hiring and training capable employees. But developing those personnel into dynamic, motivated, long-term participants in the company's processes must be the responsibility of all management, from CEO to floor supervisor.”
Yet as many sports team’s know, success isn’t just about recruiting the most talented players – it’s about creating a team of people that have talent in specific positions – the positions you need for your sport; and recruiting the right talented people that can work together in a positive organisational culture to achieve your short and long-term strategic goals. So talent management isn’t just about talent – it’s about developing the right talent that can work effectively as a team.
McCauley and Wakefield highlight how “talent management, which incorporates the cooperation and communication of managers at all levels, has become an imperative in the face of today's business challenges. In addition, talent management processes must be more strategic, connected, and broad-based than ever before. Effective talent management becomes even more important with the forthcoming talent shortage as many experienced leaders approach retirement. Globally, fewer and fewer managers and professionals are ready to fill these leadership roles, and companies worldwide find themselves competing for a smaller pool of talent. Businesses must have the ability to identify the most talented individuals, provide them with the necessary training and experiences, and retain valuable employee’s long term.”
Developing talent and retaining talent requires the investment of a significant amount of quality time to have ‘people conversations’ in order to really understand the talent you have, and understand their aspirations and expectations within your organisation.
Talented people look for a lot more than just financial reward – these people have their own future expectations and ambitions and organisations ignore what drives these people at their peril. Retaining talent should not be difficult – but organisations often make it difficult because after they’ve found the talent and attracted it – they then ignore it for the most part, often until it is too late and they move on to greener pastures offering jobs that meet the expectations you simply didn’t become aware of.
According to a recent benchmarking study on talent management conducted by the American Productivity and Quality Center and the Center for Creative Leadership, organizations that excel in talent management follow eight best practices:
1) Defining ‘talent management’ broadly.
2) Integrating the various elements of talent management into a comprehensive system.
3) Focusing talent management on their most highly-valued talent.
4) Getting CEOs and senior executives committed to talent management work.
5) Building competency models to create a shared understanding of the skills and behaviours the organization needs and values in employees.
6) Monitoring talent system-wide to identify potential talent gaps.
7) Excelling at recruiting, identifying, and developing talent, as well as performance management and retention.
8) Regularly evaluating the results of their talent management system.
Talent management should link to some form of succession planning that is helping the organisation develop talent not just for the short-term but for the long-term as well. You’re more likely to retain staff in the long-term if you actually think long-term very early in their careers. This means have solid long-term business strategies, that may be no more than visions – but visions that help define potential future organisation structures and hence the opportunities for different talents within the business – and then matching the organisations dreams with those of your employees.
Every job is crucial in an organisation and hence every person within your organisation should have the talent you need for them to perform their jobs and grow themselves, their roles and in doing so, help grow the organisation. Some organisations have a two tier system where they have high-potentials with talent and ‘the rest’ – the danger with these kind of systems is that you can be giving the wrong message to the ‘b’ team and create demotivation and a two-tier culture, which does not build a cohesive team and will not give you optimal results.
McCauley and Wakefield remind us that “wise leaders do not leave strategy or the bottom line to mere chance. They also know they can't just hope everything somehow works out with the people in their company. By incorporating comprehensive talent management, an organization can assemble the right people it needs to manage and lead in the future.”
McCauley, C. and Wakefield, M. (2006). Talent Management in the 21st Century: Help your company find, develop and keep its strongest workers. Journal for Quality and Participation. Vol. 29, Issue 4, p.4-7.

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