‘The only thing that is constant is change’ (Heraclitus). This well-known saying is truer than ever in our fast-evolving economy. In the last 50 years, we have moved from a factory-based to a knowledge-based workforce. People want greater flexibility in their work life now and the ‘job for life’ is not the Holy Grail for employees. The explosion of social media platforms has also had a huge impact and negative comments from disgruntled employees can make or break a company in hours. In order for any organisation, large or small, to continue to grow and prosper, it is critical for them to have a talent management strategy in place to meet the needs of their current and future workforce.
The CIPD say that talent management ‘seeks to attract, identify, develop, engage, retain and deploy individuals who are considered particularly valuable to an organisation.’
Talent management or development is one of the best ways to ensure your organisation has the leadership and expert knowledge it needs for a strong, competitive future. Of course, to develop talent you first have to attract talent. The good news is that once you have it, developing it is a great way to keep it. According to Mercer’s Global Talent Trends study 2017, 1 in 3 employees are satisfied in their current role but are still planning to leave in the next 12 months, so, in Richard Branson’s words, you need to ‘train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’
Talent management will help your organisation retain the talent it needs to be prepared for the future. According to research by the Association of Talent Development (ATD), high performing organisations tend to integrate talent management components more than low performing ones (The Balance).
There are two critical elements in any successful talent management programme: the first is taking the time and effort to recruit the right people to begin with. What are your company values? What skills do you need? What behaviours are you looking to role model? These are all key questions your senior team should be looking at with your recruitment partner to help you define the type of talent you are trying to attract.
Once you have the answers, make sure the job description and person specification fully reflects your requirements and expectations in order to attract the right talent. The late Stephen Covey, author of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ said: “If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could have ever managed them. Their fire comes from within, not from without.’
Once you have recruited the right people, following your thorough recruitment process, you need to grow and nurture them.
The second element is your ongoing talent management programme. The design of this really depends on the type of industry you are in, your current and future market, any skills gaps you may have and your budget. Once these have been determined, you can begin to develop your programme, either in-house or in partnership with a specialist provider.
The best programmes provide a mix of training, on the job learning, coaching, mentoring and project work to enable staff to build the skills and competencies necessary to take the next steps in their careers. Recognition schemes and 360-degree review processes can also help you identify ways to build and improve on your talent management programme.
This has been a hotly debated topic over the years. There are some companies who ‘cherry pick’ certain individuals who they feel will be the leaders of the future. Others have open assessment centres to identify talent. There are also companies that have a broader talent management strategy to identify and grow talent at all levels according to role skills and competencies.
Your particular programme should depend on the size and type of your company. What is important across the board, however, is transparency. In order to foster a positive, inclusive work culture, all staff should have access to some sort of talent development or know the steps they need to take to access your programme. It is always a good idea to seek advice from a learning and development specialist who will have an unbiased opinion and can advise on what is best for your organisation.
Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own development and employees should never leave the burden completely to the control of their employers. But, according to the Mercer report, 1 in 3 employees don’t feel empowered to create their own career success. Alongside your in-house talent management programme, there’s a lot you can encourage your team of people to do for themselves.
There are thousands of books on various aspects of leadership, management, emotional intelligence and every other subject you can think of, which you can point them in the direction of. The internet is a fantastic resource for everyone interested in advancing their career; there are free online webinars, YouTube videos and TED talks as well as blogs and scholarly articles from sites such as the Harvard Business Review that can help improve your employees’ skills.
Membership bodies such as the CIM, CIPR, ACCA etc. often provide a range of resources and events aimed at supporting continued professional development, so supporting employee membership and their attendance of professional events can be beneficial. There is also a great resource available on the CIPD website
You can also follow the 71% of Fortune 500 companies who have set up a mentorship programme. Glen Tullman argues that employees can benefit most from multiple mentors including colleagues, peers at different companies, people working for them, people who have struggled and visionaries.
If you don’t support employees by providing adequate talent development and opportunities to expand or progress in their roles, you may well find yourself losing highly skilled people to your competition.
A recruitment agency like Sitka can work with you to help you identify opportunities to develop your existing talent and advise you how best to fill any skills gaps. Don’t just sit back and leave it to chance; there’s no better time than the present to invest in your future workforce.
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