We are all in the people business. Several years ago I worked with a group of managers to develop new methods of managing their talent. After a few minutes of discussion, a high level manager raised his hand and said that he thought he really did not need to be there. He briefly summarized all the important things that he did before concluding that he really is “not in the people part of the business.” More than a few heads nodded after his comment and a few shut their notebooks. All I asked was who thought they “could have a few more stars on their team?” Several attendees looked at each other and then started to raise their hands. Although they felt the team that works for them is very good, they were interested in improving it further. Why? Talent as the building block of our productivity and performance, like other factors of success almost always can be improved.
Talent management like all of the concepts we have discussed as part of this series on organization effectiveness possesses more than one definition. Most commonly, it includes recruiting employees, onboarding, providing professional development, improving performance, creating career path advancement opportunities, and planning for succession. Literally, talent management pertains to how talent as a resource is managed from the time it enters an organization until it departs.
Based on a 2011 survey of 400 executives by HCS, the conceptual areas most important to success with talent management appear Figure 1. The factors most mentioned or with the highest level of consensus relate to recruitment, retention, and development. Recruitment ensures that the right people join the organization, retention ensures that they remain, and development pertains to growing the skills and abilities of those that are par to the organization. Leadership development and performance management follow closely behind and encompass the efforts on the part of the organization to develop highly competent leaders and measure and improve individual, team, and organizational performance. Less highly rated, but still important to more than 60 percent of executives is workforce planning and cultural management. While workforce planning deals with responding to changes in the workforce and the organization’s operating environment, culture management incorporates the actions taken by an organization to ensure that employees feel engaged and motivated to work with a high level of commitment and performance.
Although there is a lot of discussion of what organizations as a whole should do manage talent effectively, it is important to understand what we can do as individual leaders.
Three critical ways we all can support talent management includes:
- Commit to continuous learning
- Link professional and organizational goals
- Provide encouragement
Commit to Continuous Learning
As a leader, we have to plan for and follow through on opportunities for learning. Although it is tempting to focus on the tasks at hand and corresponding immediate deadlines, it is important to invest in the future for ourselves and others. Every project or assignment creates an opportunity to learn something new. However, it is important to supplement our experiences with activities that provide the building blocks for future roles or skills.
Link Professional and Organizational Goals
Although older generations might have been more tolerant of organization only efforts, younger workers are looking for how organizational and personal interests can be more aligned to meet the organization’s needs while simultaneously supporting personal career expectations. At times, a leader needs to be explicit so that there is no ambiguity in the dual value. This is accomplished by engaged the employee and explaining the importance of the duty or assignment for accomplishing both types of goals.
We all have a lot to balance in our lives. Between work, family, and limited personal time, most of us are tired, frazzled, and ready to drop. I have always admired employees that worked all day, took care of a family, and went to school. As leaders, we underestimate the influence we can have on encouraging employees to gain additional formal or informal development. By telling someone we know they can do, can all the difference in the world to them.