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How Serious is Your Business About Talent Management?

The field of talent management has grown significantly over the last five years.  Many companies now have explicit talent management strategies in place.  Companies have created and grown talent pools to ensure that talented employees get the attention and development opportunities they deserve.  In addition, to ensure dedicated commitment to talent management resourcing and implementation, all leading companies now have employed full-time talent managers to drive talent management interventions.  Other companies that can’t yet afford a full-time talent manager, have assigned talent management responsibility to the human resource or learning and development manager. Alternatively, external talent management consultants are utilised to provide advice about the planning and execution of talent management strategies and practices.  Be that as it may, it is clear that talent management has gained traction in both the private and public sectors.  However, despite these positive developments, the question I want to pose today is: How serious is your business about talent management?

The problem in many organisations is that while there is generally an improved awareness of talent management, very often it is not easy to embed talent management within an organisation. The main obstacles towards the full implementation of talent management are as follows:

  • An unclear philosophy and approach about the paradigm shift from traditional HR management to talent management;
  • Superficial approaches to simply renaming traditional practices such as recruitment and selection, training and development etc to “talent acquisition,” “talent development” or “talent management” without the requisite changes in fundamental thinking and practice;
  • Silos within the HR department and within the rest of the organisation making it difficult to leverage the talent management value-chain;
  • A lack of management commitment to talent management;
  • Inconsistent and “secret” approaches to talent practices, for instance, when identified talented employees or potential successors don’t know that they have been identified as talent;
  • An inadequate talent culture, and limited opportunities for talent to thrive;
  • A lack of measurement of the impact of talent management interventions.

On the other hand, progressive organisations have embarked on a clear strategy and plan to not only show staff how serious they are about talent management, but also to ensure that it is implemented effectively.  When a business is serious about talent, the following are in place:

  • A clearly articulated talent management strategy;
  • An explicit philosophy on talent management;
  • An employment value proposition;
  • A strong and mature talent management culture;
  • A committed team of managers driving talent management from the top and in all departments;
  • Advanced leadership development programmes, including succession planning;
  • A high performing HR team with good talent management capability and excellent talent-driven HR practices;
  • A suite of talent management interventions used to set talent up for success;
  • Strong talent pools and pipelines, including youth talent;
  • Ample opportunities for talent development;
  • An innovative talent retention strategy;
  • Active involvement in talent management conferences such as Talent Africa to share and implement best practices;
  • A sound talent management measurement system.

In the light of the above discussion, it is evident that business leaders need to show how serious they are about talent management.  If the first set of bullets dealing with the obstacles to talent management are more familiar to you, then the chances are good that your organisation is not serious about talent management, or that you are new to the field of talent management.  Companies serious about talent management typically follow the second set of bullets, because they have already embedded most of the talent management best practices outlined above.  In essence, talent is at the centre of their business success. Hence, based on the key points outlined in this article, my question to you is: How serious is your business about talent management?  

Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practice (SABPP) and vice-chairperson of the UNISA Talent Advisory Board. 

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