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The Trouble with Talent

Optimize Blog - August 7, 2014 - 0 comments

Increasingly companies are viewing the ability to manage talent as a strategic priority or at least that’s what they tell us. However, a lack of time and attention, the inability to remove silo’d thinking and a view that this is an HR problem results in ineffective programs being half-heartedly adopted. It is little surprise that many of these programs fail.
Our experience suggests that the barriers to effective talent management programs are mostly people based and the inability to change old habits. Many people that we talk to suggest that the Executive and senior leadership team do not align talent management strategies with the business strategy. Additionally there is a view that insufficient time is spent by the Executive and senior leadership team on talent management suggesting that even though it is described as a priority the actions suggest that perhaps it is not.
But it’s not just the fault of the top table as line managers appear to be equally culpable. Managers are often unwilling or incapable of being objective around what constitutes great, average or poor when it comes to capability. Fear of having tough conversations precludes the ability to truly develop individuals. Many recognize under performance but they are challenged when deciding what to do about it.
Silo thinking not only hinders the mobility of talent within the organization but it also undermines the sharing of knowledge and the development of interpersonal networks for ‘social capital’.
Succession planning and a fundamental lack of understanding about the organization’s most critical jobs are an issue and the process is often conducted as a HR ‘tick in the box’ rather than a useful source of data to be used when recruiting or moving talent around the company.
The reality is that talent management cannot be isolated from business strategy. Organizations achieve the best outcomes when senior leaders are actively involved in talent development during the early stages of strategy formulation. Those that rely solely on their HR team to drive their strategy for talent will miss the opportunity to align behaviours, values and capabilities of the workforce with the priorities of the business.
The top team needs to ensure that line managers are unambiguously responsible for developing the skills and knowledge of their people and including people development as a specific objective in the performance appraisal system and any incentive program. However, without the top team modelling theses behaviours nothing will change…….
Finally organizations need to actively breakdown the internal silos by moving talent around and promoting the sharing of knowledge across functions and divisions. Top talent belongs to the organization not to the internal fiefdoms.

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