The future of talent management
When it comes to processes and technology, it is time to treat talent like a business imperative.
Today’s talent leaders are searching for ways to cope with challenges from skill gaps to globalization to concerns about succession planning and future leadership. Given the critical nature of these talent issues, organizations have responded with a broad array of initiatives that focus on talent attraction, development, and retention. According to a 2010 Deloitte survey, talent leaders’ top concerns include:
- Continuing talent shortages despite high unemployment rates in the U.S. and abroad. Many executives predict talent shortages across key business units and executive leadership — which are needed to drive growth and innovation. Nearly three of four executives surveyed predicted talent shortages in R&D.
- The global race for talent. The recession did not reduce the pace of globalization — instead, many executives recognize that the once-emerging markets of the pre-recession days have become the catalysts for future growth, placing tremendous demands on talent managers to get new people in new jobs at new locations.
- Challenges in developing the next generation of leaders. Looking out over a more complex and ever-changing business environment and the impending retirement of baby boomers, many executives expressed concern over their companies’ leadership development programs and pipelines, believing this will be the highest talent priority three years from now.
- Retention of critical talent. Fifty-nine percent of executives reported that voluntary turnover had increased between October 2009 and October 2010 and 61 percent believed that it would increase over the following 12 months. Moreover, 29 percent of respondents expressed very high concern about losing critical talent and 25 percent reported a very high concern about retaining leadership.
While organizations have had varied outcomes addressing these top talent priorities, many organizations are now sorting through a patchwork of their various talent approaches, programs, and initiatives. The near-term result is an operational headache that should be rationalized and made manageable for the long term. However, a variety of challenges should be overcome.
- A programmatic view. A common response to talent gaps has been to conceive of and execute various “programs” — such as new recruiting strategies, strengthened career paths, enhanced retention incentives, or modified performance management processes. Unfortunately, these approaches have typically focused on what to do, not how to do it. That can place insufficient focus on the resources it will take to implement and then sustain these initiatives over the long run.
- Siloed activities. Even talent-oriented organizations tend to address their talent issues topic by topic, not within the context of an integrated talent strategy or framework. Because different elements in the talent lifecycle are closely related, this lack of a holistic view can stand in the way of achieving strategic talent objectives. In addition, the people, processes, and technology supporting these activities often operate with minimal coordination or integration.
- Localized solutions. Not only are talent programs, policies, and technologies separated across talent silos, they also tend to vary by country and region, which multiplies the effort and cost needed to maintain them. As companies seek to operate on a more global basis, this makes it increasingly challenging to achieve talent objectives both effectively and efficiently.
- Lack of data-driven approaches. Organizations have invested in talent programs based largely on intuition. Some of these investments have yielded benefits, but few organizations can quantity them. Many organizations focus on the investment required to implement a program but fail to account for or monitor the effort to manage it over the long term.
Based on these types of challenges, even organizations that have deployed satisfactory talent management programs have found difficulty controlling the infrastructure — people, processes, and technology — to sustain them. Many are also finding they need to plan, implement, and manage talent initiatives with an operational mindset that more closely resembles the way they address other business challenges. This heightened focus on the operational aspects of talent strategies can be referred to as “talent-led HR Transformation” — and can be a key element in the next evolution of HR Transformation.