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Creating a Talent Revolution

The PwC CEO survey shows that 83% of CEOs worry whether they have the right talent in place to execute their strategy in achieving their business objectives. This means that CEOs understand the essence and basic principles of talent management. Thus, talent management should be the number one priority of HR professionals.  But then we as HR professionals need to step up and get talent management right so that we can proactively address this concern of CEOs.  This is indeed a wonderful opportunity for HR professionals to add significant value to business strategy by ensuring that the organisation has the right talent to execute its strategy. As someone said recently, the talent war is over – talent won!

This talent management opportunity is the good news. The bad news is that as HR professionals we need to face the current gap in talent management, and sadly, this is an HR gap.  Since SABPP launched the National HR Standards, we have audited several companies against all 13 standards, including talent management.  I am sad to report to you that talent management was the area in which HR really under-performed with an average national score of 45% against the talent management standard.

But what is the essence of the talent management message we are taking away at the end of the first Talenttalks Africa Conference hosted by Talent Talks?   As I was listening to several of the presenters, whether they were thought leaders of HR executives and talent managers presenting their case studies, I tried to summarise the main messages from their talks, and interestingly, I managed to extract six key lessons forming the acronym TALENT.  Here they are:

T = Talent should be at the centre of business strategy;
A = Analytics, assessment and measurement is important to show the impact of talent management;
L = Leadership is essential for effective talent management;
E = Engagement is key – we have to engage talent so that they can deliver their best;
N = Nurture – we must really look after our talent so that we can develop and retain them;
T = Time-based – we need talent for achieving our targets today, and talent tomorrow to grow further.

In addition to focusing on talent within our organisations, I think the time is right to elevate talent management to a national level by making it a top priority for government, business, labour and society at large. I therefore want to pose the following questions in positioning talent management as a top priority for the country:

  • Can we start a talent revolution?
  • Can we get talent talking?
  • Can we put talent at the top of the national agenda?
  • Can we put talent at the top of the business agenda?

Of course, I realise that it is not easy to answer these questions today.  We may not be ready to answer them, but that is exactly the reason why I suggest that we need a talent revolution, in other words a total different way of looking and acting on talent.  Nothing is more important than the future of talent in South Africa.  If we want to get the economy growing, there are people who can do it – they are our talent. They are the people who challenge boundaries, who exceed expectations, who make things happen against all odds.

I therefore want to propose three actions going forward:

  • Let us leverage Talent Talks in building a national Talent community.
  • Let us stimulate conversations and actions about talent.
  • Let us continue to write articles about talent and talent management. I invite more and new authors to come to the table. There are good talent management stories in this country that need to be shared.  If for whatever reason, you are not able to write, contact Talent Talks and we will gladly come and interview you, your HR Executive, or your CEO.

Lastly, I want to thank all the speakers at Talenttalks Africa 2017 for their invaluable presentations, but also the delegates, exhibitors, sponsors, partners, our graphic artist Lita Currie and most importantly, our convenor and the Managing Director of Talent Talks Sue de Waal and her team for this magnificent inaugural national talent management conference.  As one of our speakers said earlier, and this is a key message to all of us:  We are shaping the future.

We are talent, but we need more talent to take our organisations forward.  However, a talent revolution is needed to put talent at the top of our agenda.  As Longman Dictionary defines a revolution as “a complete change in ways of thinking and doing,” we need to think differently about talent management today and tomorrow.  Imagine if CEOs have talent at the top of their agenda in the next executive meeting.  The success of the talent revolution will depend on our ability to elevate and multiply talent to the benefit of our companies, sectors and society at large. Let us make it happen.

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