Thursday, 28 October 2010

Talent management is now everybody's business

by WFC Resources

Jobs Vacancy, Employment, Job Vacancies

In 1999, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of The Gallup Organization wrote a book called First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. It was a good book, essentially about talent management, and it was directed towards managers. After analyzing more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years, the authors outlined four keys to becoming an excellent talent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on their strengths, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent rather than just knowledge and skills. "The point," said the book, "is to focus people toward performance. The manager is, and should be, totally responsible for this."

Times have changed. While the description of an excellent talent manager may still apply, it looks like that manager now has some help. A report released last month by the Conference Board, nearly four years later, says talent management is coming into its own. They call it "a major force in corporate strategy" and a "relatively new and increasingly popular human resource area." The report is called Integrated and Integrative Talent Management: A Strategic HR Framework.

What’s really new is the word "integrated." The report talks about "a fully integrated approach" to managing talent. What it means is that no longer is the manager totally and solely responsible for doing that job. Now he/she has the help of not only the human resources department, but the whole leadership team and the board of directors as well.

Managing talent (or human capital) now lies prominently in strategy, says the report, at the core of business success. It means integrating all of a company’s human capital initiatives, anything and everything that is focused on recruitment, retention, professional development, leadership and high potential development, performance management, feedback and measurement, workforce planning, and culture. Such integration says – loudly and clearly – that its people are a company's most important asset.

The report is based on a study of 75 HR executives who direct areas like organizational development, leadership development, succession planning and – in some cases – talent management. Among them were Time Warner, Hewlett-Packard, Delta Air Lines, Medtronic, PepsiCo, Synovus Financial Corp., Goldman Sachs, and Johnson & Johnson. The study found that talent was seen as critical to success in these companies, and that "its management is integral to all aspects of the business." Less than one-third of the surveyed firms cancelled talent management initiatives due to the economy; less than half significantly cut them back.

More than half of the 75 companies reported that their entire leadership team is held accountable for talent management results.
Nearly two-thirds see their use of talent management initiatives as "integrated," defined as the fitting together of different talent management programs to create a single, coherent system. "This study," says author Lynne Morton, principal in Performance Improvement Solutions, "shows that talent is seen as critical to success and that its management is integral to all aspects of the business.”

Integration is still relatively new, says the report. On average, companies that view their talent management programs as integrated say they have only been that way for about 10 years. Some said some of the components had been integrated for only one to three years and a few described themselves as relatively new to integration.

What does it all mean in relation to work-life? The obvious purpose of work-life initiatives is to recruit and retain talent, to create a culture that allows employees to be fully productive and to focus on work when they’re working, a culture that encourages them to feel enough loyalty so the company’s investment in them is maximized, and enough satisfaction so they're willing to go the extra mile. Integrating talent management is a way for human resources and work-life staff to strategically align themselves with the whole organization. If talent management is integrated, work-life will have a very secure seat at that table where business decisions are made.

At least for a while. Eventually, depending on the extent of the integration, work-life may be integrated right out of existence.

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