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The SA Talent Management Standard: Raising the bar for talent

Yesterday we debated whether we are leaders or laggers in talent management. Today we accept the fact that there is no time for debate.

Let us face the facts and start working on proper talent management to leverage South Africa’s talent in every organisation.  On the following pages you will see an overview of the Talent Management standard element developed by SABPP.  It was developed by 108 South African Senior HR Directors and Managers.  The standard was also accepted by 21 universities as a framework for their new curriculum.

The main reason why SABPP developed HR Standards was to improve HR practice with standardised practices focusing on aligning HR work to overall business strategy.  It is therefore no co-incidence that the Talent Management standard is right at the centre of the business strategy-HR business alignment component of the National HR Standards.  Talent management flows directly from your HR Strategy and it leads directly to HR Risk Management where businesses may also face HR risks such as skills gaps or other talent risks.

standard model.jpg

While the position of talent management is strategic at the conceptual level, it permeates the other HR standards as part of the HR functional architecture.  For instance, workforce planning is directly affected by talent management because of the importance of identifying all your workforce needs and talent requirements needed to properly do talent planning for the organisation. Likewise, learning and development plays a key role in building talent for the business.
I will now share the full talent management standard with you.  As the second HR standard, it builds on the strategic HR Management standard element.

HR Standard
  1. 1 D E F I N I T I O N

Talent Management is the proactive design and implementation of an integrated talent-driven organisational strategy directed to attracting, deploying, developing, retaining and optimising the appropriate talent requirements as identified in the workforce plan to ensure a sustainable organisation.In simple terms, Talent Management is the identification and development of the organisation’s bench-strength.

2.2.1  To build a talent culture which defines the organisation’s philosophy, principles and integrated approach to talent, which leverages diversity and is communicated in a clear employment value proposition.
2.2.2  To identify strategically critical positions and leadership roles and capabilities in the organisation into the future from the Workforce Plan that will determine the sustainability and growth of the organisation.
2.2.3  To set up processes and systems which will:

  • Attract a sustainable pool of talent for current objectives and future organisation needs.
  • Achieve employment equity progress in the spirit of the legislation to achieve transformation.
  • Manage the retention and reward of talent.
  • Develop the required leadership skills.
  • Plan for succession to key roles.
  • Identify high potential employees and link them with key future roles in the organisation through monitored development plans.
  • Identify where there is under-performance in a key role or in a person identified as high potential and raise the level of performance through a Performance Improvement Plan.
  • Identify through assessment the optimal development opportunities for talent.

2.2.4  To agree appropriate roles for relevant stakeholders in the development and management of talent.
2.2.5  To monitor and report on talent management key results areas and indicators.

As can be seen from the objectives of the talent management standard, it is essential to strategically position talent management in an organisation. Once the strategic role of talent management is recognised, the organisation will be positioned to map the overall talent management process.  This standard element should be read and applied by taking cognisance of all the other standard elements, but with a particular focus on strategic HR management, HR risk management, workforce planning, learning and development, organisation development, HR technology and HR measurement.
It is also important to realise  that talent management implies a high level of HR Competence. The South African HR Competency Model specifies that HR practitioners must be able to play an appropriate role in the following outputs:

  • Employment Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Skills acquisition and retention strategies
  • Leadership development
  • Integration of talent management activities
  • Succession management

HR Competency model

From the HR competency model it is also clear that talent management is second on the list of five HR capabilities. Once again, talent management follows directly on strategy.  Thus, HR standards and HR competencies are two sides of the same coin.  We cannot apply the talent management standard, if we do not have talent management competence.  Hence, the need for the development of a high level of talent management competence among HR Managers.  Some companies have even gone as far as to appoint talent management specialists to work full-time on talent management.  These companies have been quicker adoption of professional talent management practice.  Smaller and medium-sized organisations may find this a challenge.  However, it will still be key for smaller organisations to develop talent management expertise if they want to thrive in a talent-driven business environment.

In conclusion, the South African Talent Management Standard provides a sound framework for developing professional talent management practices in organisations.  It starts with a clear definition of talent management, followed by explicit objectives assisting HR and business leaders to appropriately position talent management in their companies.  Achieving success in talent management requires a high level of talent management competence.  Once a clear philosophy for talent management is strongly embedded into the thinking and culture of managing people, a company is ready to leverage the benefits of talent management.  In this article, I provided an introduction to South Africa’s talent management standard. Tomorrow I will provide some practical guidelines pertaining to the second part of the talent management standard, i.e. the talent management application standard, in other words some pointers on how to make the talent management standard work in practice.

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