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Talent Management: Your Business’s Most Valuable Player

Wednesday, 7 July 2013


Competition these days is fierce. The economic crisis seems to be coming to an end, and as business picks up, many employers are beginning to discover that they don’t have the talent on their team that they need to keep up with their competitors.

Part of the problem is that for decades they have been spending their valuable time and money on training low-performing employees to work more effectively, in an effort to help them accomplish the tasks they need to survive. On the surface, this strategy makes a great deal of sense. But consider human resources firm Northgate Arinso’s finding, that most high performing executives believe that success comes from putting the right talent to work at just the right time. If that is true, all that time and money spent on an effort to pull underperformers into the boxing ring is robbing resources from the place they’re needed most: namely, investing in the person who has the right talent for the job.

It is equally important that, once managers find the talent they’re looking for, they put an action plan in place to keep that talent in their wheelhouse, and keep them motivated to perform. But there’s a hitch: these days it seems there is a woeful shortage of talented, trained workers to go around. That means, everyone in your industry is competing for the same, small pool of high performers. If you’re not careful, the person you need will be snatched right out of your office.

This is exactly why every business that hopes to succeed in their realm of influence absolutely must have a talent management program. Usually this is accomplished by reexamining the way the human resources department works, and re-imagining its role as a vital force to hunt down and keep the best talent they can find. HR must first examine the organization’s goals and needs, and with that in mind, work to redesign the hiring process, monitoring, retainment, and training necessary to make it happen.

The first step, of course, is hiring. It might seem simple to bring on the best candidate for the job, but history proves that it’s not easy to get this step right. HR managers must take a good, hard look at the employees that perform at the top of their game, and analyze why they are successful. It’s a good idea to look at skills, personality and behavioral traits to get a global view of these individuals.

When the talent management team has pinned down the exact traits that make for a successful profile, they must set out to find the same traits in the candidates they interview. This will create the basis for the questions and assessments required during the hiring process. Ideally, multiple people from the hiring team will work together to interview candidates, and give a broader perspective of who will and won’t be the best fit for the job. It’s also important to make sure the candidate, however talented, is capable of thriving in your unique office culture. If he isn’t happy there, he’s unlikely to keep performing for you in the future.

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Second, HR must keep their talent apprised and accountable for the work they complete. This can be done with regular, purposeful performance reviews from a 360-degree feedback program. Even the most talented person needs to know when he or she is doing the job well, and needs feedback to improve on weaknesses. Just make sure to keep the feedback objective, fact-based, and fair. Otherwise employees are likely to become disgruntled and feel that their efforts are not appreciated or are misunderstood. HR must make sure that the employee has a certain degree of say over who is allowed to report on his progress, and that there is no opening for baseless slander and irrelevant opinion. It is imperative that the 360-degree feedback program is designed with specific criteria to evaluate, with the goal of improvement and understanding.

Third, the company must have strategies in place to deal with talented employees who become difficult to manage. The simple solution might seem to be firing, but a forward-thinking manager realizes that the expense involved in a lengthy job opening, a costly hiring process, and the time involved in training new talent from scratch make firing the last resort. Instead, the talent management team needs to create an infrastructure of coaching and training. Managers need the training and appraisal tools necessary to get to the bottom of the reasons why the employee has become resistant to direction. Once the employee’s hang-ups are addressed, they can work together in a coaching environment to set new goals and strategies, and to outline what needs to take place in order to move forward. This saves time and money, and sends a message to your top talent that they are valued for their contributions.

A good talent management team can mean life or death to a struggling corporation, as the ability to hire, keep, and develop the best talent in your market will make success possible. With an intentionally streamlined HR team focused on these goals, companies can begin to change the way they reward and elevate the best and brightest in their midst, and everyone will benefit.


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