“If a man has talent and can’t use it, he’s failed.”
-Thomas Wolfe

 

Recently I was amazed by some statistics from the Right Management report on talent management; it covered global trends, challenges and priorities.

The historical trends of reduced investment in talent over the last ten years and the recent surge of interest in talent management have been covered in great detail. However, the single greatest obstacle of sustainable talent strategies is the culture that exists in many organizations.

The Implications of Talent Shortages

The results of the Manpower Group Global survey of 38,000 employers:

Starting the Talent Engine

The statistics above show a jarring perspective of the modern talent management culture, there is much room for improvement and initiatives are being put in place at an unprecedented rate.

The report recommends a three-pronged approach to starting the talent engine:

1. Assess
-Strategically assessing the talent you have underpins the ability to meet and exceed organizational goals
-Assessment allows you to build the bridge between your talent strategy and your business strategy

2. Develop

-Companies must continually identify, developer, nurture and retain leaders as part of their ongoing talent development strategy in order to build a global leadership pipeline
-This can be done by offering broad-based programs to all employees to foster career development at higher levels of employee engagement. In addition, specific focus programs can help the advancement of key talent

3. Activate

-Employee engagement should be a key strategic focus when companies recognize talent as their main competitive advantage
-Manpower Group’s survey found that four out of five employees intend to look for employment elsewhere; this should be a wake-up call to top management

All of this is sound advice for implementing a talent management strategy, but if it’s all so easy, why are there so many dismal statistics in the report?

Effective talent management is a cultural organization issue

Does your system maximize the effectiveness of every employee? Are talent management and maximizing contribution a deep seated part of your organization’s culture? An educated guess given the results of the survey: the majority of organizations, large and small, fundamentally overlook these drivers of success.

So what do you need to do in order to build out a culture of talent development? One that sits in the very DNA of the organization?

Numbers & undisputed results speak loudly

As with any business activity, quantification, results and attribution all provide the reinforcement loop required to ingrain a culture of supportive talent management. However, a small minority of survey respondents (30%) believed that talent management initiatives had any effect on overall business performance.

The key is clean attribution; clearly connect some of the initial activities to tangible business outcomes (growth, retention, satisfaction, product improvements). Even if your plan is wide-scope, focus energy into a key area, after all without work how will anything get done?

If a model can be proved in the small scale, it is much easier to see the feasibility of it in the large scale, talent management is no different.

A satisfaction and triumph few men ever know

I began this post with a quote by Thomas Wolfe. There is actually more to the quote:

“If a man has talent and can’t use it, he’s failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.”

-Thomas Wolfe

Top management needs to strategically approach talent management using the insights from reports such as the one published by the Manpower Group.

By allowing work to get muddled and attribution to fade, no system can truly be measured for effectiveness.

By focusing on the employees, the entire organization will begin to learn the choices to be made that will change the culture forever.

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