HR agenda or wish list?

12 May 2018

This article was featured in the June 2018 issue of the magazine.

Sandra Walker, Frontier Software consultant, argues for talent management to receive appropriate attention to make it happen

Though talent management has been rising up the human resources (HR) priority list for some time it is often considered a long-term goal that never actually comes to fruition. Is it a well-worn topic, a ‘fad’ that gets passing attention or is it a key item on the HR agenda? What does it actually mean to your organisation and employees?     

According to Wikipedia, “everything done to recruit, retain, develop, reward and make people perform forms a part of talent management”. That’s a very big remit, and does HR have the time, resources or budget to implement a programme and make it a priority now and not at some point in the future? It can often feel like talent management is a moving target.

Talent management programmes require investment and may not deliver on expectations. Perhaps it is time to move slowly and not take the ‘big bang’ approach to talent management. Be more organic; support small initiatives, give them time to develop and don’t take companywide too soon – or they may be doomed to fail. We all know it is hard to maintain a project once every department and employee is involved. Encourage and motivate employees when they think big. Don’t let their enthusiasm and excitement for their role become stifled by those with no desire to progress or taking the been-there-done-that approach to ideas. When employees are encouraged to think about their development and performance, some of the proposed initiatives may not be ‘new’, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be looked at again through a fresh pair of eyes. If it doesn’t feel right to have an all-encompassing programme of recruitment and development that never gets off the ground, take the pressure off and look at individuals in small teams and how they grow ideas and develop as people.


...create a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your human resource...


As millennials become the key workforce demographic you can ( no longer apply a one-size-fits-all approach to talent management. People are now pursuing opportunities at every age and tailored learning for employees will become the norm. Instead of focusing on development programmes for the future, focus on actions that will have a more immediate effect, such as removing negative influences from a team and including the more enthusiastic to get things going. Don’t hesitate to use the best person for the job, regardless of age or length of service. Try it and just go with the flow. You will find yourself liberated from the constraint of trying to deliver a programme that is difficult to monitor and measure. Enable your individuals to be great all the time and not just as part of a result driven, corporate talent management programme; let them feel satisfaction and joy every day at the difference they make through their initiative and hard work. Encourage your talent, reward good work, train when it is needed and review. Help your people to become better through regular feedback, based on real performance. Stop investing precious time in talking about it and let it occur more naturally; encourage ability and support initiatives that promote personal development and performance.

Know the capabilities of your people, what their ambitions are and in what direction they want to develop; and you are then better placed to present the right opportunities. And look outside your organisation and develop a talent pool. With the technology of today you are able to know both current and potential employees better. 

A talent management software solution will enable you to keep track from recruitment, through personal development to performance management. All that important data in one place, easily extracted and delivering management information that is accessible and on-demand. Focus on your individuals and then extend the focus to the wider team through talent analytics and reporting. 

Talent management is a huge topic that means different things to different people, but don’t be put off by the perceived size of the task. Use talent analytics as a foundation stone and move your focus from the future to today. With the right software solution, you can keep track of individual capabilities and how they are evolving and quickly match an opportunity with the right talent. Give your management an insight into the workforce both from the talent pool and your existing teams. These insights can then be used to create a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your human resource and how these can be improved. The concept of talent teams is under developed but will become more and more important in the years ahead. If you’re invested in the individual the talent team should be naturally occurring.

The future will see a closer relationship between people and technology in the workplace; so use it to take talent management off the wish list and onto the HR agenda.