How to develop a comprehensive Talent Management Strategy

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Let’s talk about that cradle to grave analogy. Mom and Dad plan to start a family – Recruitment. The big day comes and the bouncing baby is born – On-boarding. Teach the little one how to walk and talk – Performance. Potty training, manners, and formal education follow – Training and Development. College and career aspirations – Succession Planning. The little one finally leaves the nest – Off-boarding.

Probably the most important factor in your children’s healthy development is their continuous interaction with you. When you successfully handle the daily and ongoing issues, your child has the opportunity to be happy, thrive and grow. Ignore their concerns and there is the likelihood they may withdraw from a positive relationship with you and potentially develop unsteadiness within the family.

Talent is described as the product of ability (competence, education, training and experience), coupled with motivation (engagement, satisfaction, challenge and wellness) and opportunity.

Talent management is described as the strategic approach to managing a career from attracting, retaining, and developing to transitioning the organisations’ human resources.

There is a war on talent globally, and the advice to human resource departments is to transform from the traditional role, to provide value-added support in attracting and retaining the talent from within.

Key issues that companies are facing currently:

  • Companies are battling to find the correct candidates for the correct position especially candidates with the correct and necessary skills for being successful in the position.

  • Companies struggle to create an environment that employees can thrive in, as they manage employees on a daily basis which the outcome is commonly limited thinking patterns

  • Business change is a constant factor that influences retention of your talent within the company, thus companies need to involve the people that are impacted so that the employees themselves can drive the process and sustain the business change

  • Companies with reward programmes fail to reward the key talent within the company and the performance systems are not effective at all. Performance systems don’t deal with non-performers at all

  • Companies sit with the challenge of keeping the right people in the right places

  • Companies that don’t manage talent over a period of time and see their TMS as a quick fix with a single solution

A successful Talent Management System is one that is made up of unique sets of structures and processes that assists the organisation to drive performance culture within the company, where employees are motivated to achieve common goals which are essentially aligned towards the achievement of business imperatives.

Yes, the very best Talent Management systems are designed to handle the complete life cycle of your workforce. They connect and manage all of the stages of the employee’s career within the organization. Cradle to grave, as they say.

1. Job descriptions

Writing job descriptions is an important step in planning the company’s staffing programs. The job description forms the foundation for many important processes such as recruitment, and selection, setting expectations for the employee, compensation, and training and performance management. Job descriptions should give an employee a brief overview of their role, how it relates to your company vision and objectives, a list of key responsibilities, requirements and qualifications.

Neglecting this specific step in the Talent Management System would also have a negative effect on all the next steps. The employee needs to know what is expected of him/her by the company and what results to work towards to achieve success on a regular basis.

2. Competency framework

The question on all employers’ lips is simply: ‘How do I define the skills, behaviours, and attitudes that my workers need in order to perform their roles effectively?’ In other words, how do you know what to measure?

A competency framework is simply a guideline on what competencies each employee needs in order to achieve success within their current role. Success is measured against what the company objectives are.

Competencies is defined as the integrated knowledge, skills, judgment, and attributes that people need to perform a job effectively. By having a defined set of competencies for each role in your business, it shows workers the kind of behaviours the organization values, and which it requires to help achieve its objectives.

By defining the competencies of each job it will be possible for an employee to be more effective and efficient in their work, to be more productive and to also identify skills gaps within their current role. A company can then link individual performance to the overall goals of the organisation.

An important step that companies mostly forget is to effectively communicate the competencies to all employees within the organisation.

3. Workforce planning

Workforce planning constitutes of assessing whether the company has the right staff composition to deliver what the company promises to its clients. The organisational structure should also support the Talent Management Strategy as well as the current and future needs of the company.

During workforce planning a company will set out a budget for recruitment and also plan on what talent is needed in which positions. The workforce planning process can be a lengthy process but contributes to the overall strategy of the company.

It is said that there is no more important element than the people behind the company and a successful Talent Management System will ensure that the company is fully optimizing its human capital.

4. Recruitment

Before Human Resource managers can cultivate talent, they have to get high-quality candidates in the door. A company would need to develop its own recruitment software that will be able to aid the talent acquisition process. The software will help HR managers to research, source, communicate with and continuously engage with potential job candidates.

Technology has improved tremendously and also assists companies with fast tracking the recruitment process. Platforms like LinkedIn and Skype is used by many companies in South Africa to communicate with candidates at their own convenience.

Platforms enable candidates to ‘sell’ themselves to companies and offer companies with the option of head hunting talented candidates on a daily basis.

5. On-boarding

This process can have a dramatic effect on job performance and satisfaction, organisational commitment, and retention. It is important to make sure the relationship starts off on the right foot, since the first experiences of a new employee in your organization are critical. Here the focus should be on the recruitment policies and procedures as well as employee induction manuals. The employee should go through a thorough on-boarding process to ensure compliance to the whole TMS.

6. Performance Management

The aspect at hand should ensure that employees are aligned to and consistently managed against the company’s objectives and performance standards. Thus Standard Operating Procedures is an important factor to take into account here. During the previous step the employee will be informed of this process and know exactly what the aspects are that is going to be measured. Measurement of Return on Investment is the only factor that is important to companies and taking this into account if the ROI is worthwhile the company will develop a talented pool from within.

7. Training & Development

After each performance review it is possible to identify strategies to improve before the next review date. Thus a company should know where the skills gaps are within the company and also recruit candidates that meet the requirements of the job. A career development plan can be drawn up in order to ensure compliance to specific company policies and also to ensure promotional opportunities for candidates that are up to date with their career paths. Without a vision for the future, it will be difficult for companies to motivate their employees to become better employees.

8. Retention and Succession planning

A company that has a high staff turnover will definitely benefit from a comprehensive TMS. Each person that exits the company should be interviewed in order to ensure that nothing internally has gone wrong. Reasons for staff leaving and factors which will retain staff as well as structures for retention and succession planning should be set out in a strategy. This strategy should be communicated to all personnel during the on-boarding process.

The company can do internal survey’s for a variety of reasons (e.g. to identify reasons for bad retention, to identify the company culture). When drafting the strategy for retention, succession planning should be kept to the centre of the strategy. One cannot develop a retention strategy in a vacuum. Thus career paths and personal development plans should be drafted for each employee within the company and agreed objectives should be set out. This will also motivate employees to be up to date with their career paths and personal development plans. A critical part of this process is for the manager and employee to ensure that this is not only get reduced to paper, but to stay engaged with the process, to keep following up and to keep working on it day after day.

9. Compensation and Benefits

A company should ensure that all positions are graded according to a set structure. There is a variety of grading systems that can be used and the most common system that is used is the Paterson Grading system. This system comprises of six major levels which in turn has been sub-divided into categories. A company must also ensure that a thorough income differential analysis is conducted as this will have a direct impact when discussing the budget for the next financial period. Employee incentive schemes should also be included into the income differential analysis as this will be a factor that is taken into account when making an offer to a newly appointed candidate.

10. Internal audits

Buzz terms like “talent-management strategy” are often dismissed as “consultant speak,” and are not widely present in the internal audit departments I have looked at. Yet, it is really not a complex concept. An effective approach to internal audit talent management requires a vision (e.g., the ability to address key enterprise risks in the future), a gap analysis (what skills will we need that we do not have now and what gaps might develop in the future), and a plan to address the gap (how will we acquire the skills/capabilities to address tomorrow’s risks).

Internal Talent Management audits are so important for the success of the whole strategy. As seen in this article it is not possible to do each of these processes in a vacuum and each step relies on the preceding step and also influences the step thereafter. It should thus be a compulsory step within your TMS to audit the process internally and to get feedback from all stakeholders involved in this process. Each step should be analysed for success and improved or revised on a yearly basis.

When a company has successfully implemented the above system the management of the system is critical to achieve ongoing success. Thus people need to be appointed to manage each element of the human resource value chain within the company and to ensure that the company has the right people, with the right skills, doing the right things, at the right time; and ultimately leading to bottom line success.

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