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Talent Management Special Report

> talent management with Rudi Kindts > sustaining talent development > focus on talent management > the candidate’s perspective


special report: talent management Rudi Kindts gives us an insight into the talent management industry.

According to recent surveys amongst Chief Executives, the ‘talent agenda’ has again risen to the top of their concerns. Fifteen years on from McKinsey’s ‘War for Talent’, numerous research studies have confirmed that people do have a major influence on the successful performance of organisations. Not a lot has changed in the debate though and often the same old questions are being asked, such as ‘how to identify and assess talent?’, ‘what is the best way to retain talent?’ ‘how to develop the leaders of the future?’ and ‘how to create greater inclusivity in our organisation?’ There are several reasons why these questions keep popping up. One of the reasons is complacency. A loose chat over a cup of coffee is not what I would call a rigorous candidate selection process. In too many cases, the pendulum has swung too far from the more scientific approach to the so-called ‘nononsense’ approach, which leads to an ever increasing cost of mis-hiring. A lack of innovation in the recruitment area often leads to depleted pools of potential hires. HR professionals can learn from brand marketeers about how to create, trial and repeat with an identified employer brand, and from trade marketeers about how to engage with candidates through various channels and available touch points; the use of social media being one of several.

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The same lack of innovation applies to employee development. Knowledge transfer has rightly been moved from the classroom to fancy online learning systems, leading to increased efficiencies. On the other hand, companies are shying away from the cost that comes with transformational development such as coaching/mentoring, the design of tailormade, first-hand experience and programmes that stretch participants through wider exposure (e.g. international, across sectors, across functions etc.). One thing is sure; change and increased complexity are here to stay and should form the focal point of any development intervention. The talent management arena has become a showroom of best practices and flavour of the month that are often disconnected with the real needs of the business. In a worst case scenario, leaders can’t be bothered to apply them effectively because of a lack of user-friendliness; in some cases the processes are boringly complex. There is the other scenario; when leaders comply and ritualize the process, turning talent management into a ‘tick the box’ exercise.


In most cases, the main reason talent management approaches fail is not related to the quality of the processes, tools and practices being introduced. Instead, it lies in the lack of leadership behaviours that have proven to determine the successful outcome of any talent strategy implementation.” Four conditions spring to mind: 1) Discipline: Leaders in the business invest time and effort in bringing talent development to life. This includes thorough selection interviewing, productive performance conversations, thoughtful potential assessments, effective coaching and exciting on-thejob development plans. 2) Accountability: Leaders in the business are happy to be held accountable for the level of competence and commitment of their people, their development and retention. This responsibility is not delegated to the HR function. 3) Ownership: The development of talent, the creation of a pipeline of quality future leaders and the exchange of views around emerging talent issues form part of the business agenda and feature repeatedly on the agenda of key business meetings. 4) Transparency: The debate ‘about people’, is complemented by meaningful and adult conversations ‘with people’ about development issues, work/life ambitions and (realistic) career aspirations. In doing so, talent management becomes an exciting and dynamic event, rather than a bureaucratic ‘black box’ exercise taking place behind closed doors.

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Recently, more strategic talent issues are emerging, in line with changing demographics

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So far, I have covered what I would call the basics. Getting those right, in particular the leadership behaviours as outlined previously, will take talent management a long way. Recently, more strategic talent issues are emerging, in line with changing demographics (e.g. multi-generational workforce, millennials), evolving ways of working (e.g. connectivity in a matrix organisation, virtual organisation), increased pressures at work (e.g. well-being), further globalisation (e.g. international workforce), to name a few.

The most personalised interaction is the relationship between leaders and their people. That’s why ultimately, the leaders in the business carry the end responsibility for success or failure of any talent strategy. The old saying still stands: ‘People join companies, they leave bosses.’ CEOs are moving talent management to the top of their agenda again and will hopefully go beyond paying lip service to what they claim is one of the key contributors to their companies’ current and future success. - Esher, June 17, 2012.

The old saying still stands: ‘People join companies, they leave bosses.’ There is one certainty for the future; the world and hence the business world will continue to change and will become ever more complex. Consequently, talent management needs to respond to this reality by becoming more agile and responsive. This requires the careful management of a challenging paradox. On the one hand, it is paramount to increase efficiencies through simplification and standardisation. On the other hand though, practice should allow to personalise as much as possible.

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sustaining talent development Rory Fidgeon and Bill Davies from JCA Occupational Psychologists look at sustaining talent development through emotional intelligence.

In this article, we will discuss seven recommendations for making talent management and development sustainable through the application of emotional intelligence (EI). Our definition of EI stresses the importance of focusing on both skills ‘and’ attitude. If talent management equally focused on attracting or building the right attitude as well as the right skills, participants would be more likely to approach development with an interested, open and positive mind-set rather than with suspicion or indifference. If this were the case, then all talent development would stand much more of a chance of delivering results. Focus on managing attitude just as much as skill People who are closed minded, lack awareness and feel defensive are not ready to change. Without managing attitude, organisations risk wasting a lot of time, money and effort when investing in development activities. At best, they may deliver transitory developmental benefits and at worst, the feedback will be viewed with indifference, suspicion or anger. Allow sufficient time Changing attitudes and habits can take time, but the pay off is worthwhile. It may be more difficult to sell to budget holders, who are drawn to the quicker fix options, but it is inevitably a false economy if the old behaviour or problem soon returns.

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Be interactive and work in groups One form of experiential learning is to make it interactive. Working in groups provides a wonderful source of feedback from others and the opportunity to try out new techniques with people. Focus on feelings and the self A useful technique is to discuss how uncomfortable people feel talking about themselves. Also notice the depth of the conversation; it is all too easy to discuss other people, the past, the future or task issues and avoid talking about current feelings about oneself. Seek to change habits Most of what we do is unconscious, automatic and habitual behaviour. If change is to be sustainable it must, therefore, become habitual. Making a change is one thing but maintaining the change is far more difficult; all too often people will revert back to old behaviours when under pressure or the initial motivation for change has gone. One reason for this is that the person does not really want to change. Being in touch with our feelings will help us know what we really want, rather than pretending to ourselves, following other people’s expectations of us, doing the ‘right’ thing or keeping others happy.


Apply multiple sources of feedback Feedback is the source to self-awareness and knowledge and allows us to make informed and realistic choices on our behaviour. There are many forms by which we can gain feedback, all of which are valuable. Some will work better for some people than others, so it is usually more effective to include several approaches. Make learning experiential All too often people know what they should do but don’t do it in practice. The reason is that what we learn as knowledge happens in a different part of the brain from experiential learning. Learning from experience involves the whole body and engages our emotions, which is processed in the limbic brain where we create new attitudinal patterns.

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case study we have recently measured the impact of an EI programme with a group of 150 managers The proportion of managers achieving high levels of EI before and 3 months after the intervention are shown below. Our research confirms sustained improvements in performance and include: • Self Regard: Before 43% After 68% (25% increase) • Regard for Others: Before 58% After 82% (24% increase) • Emotional Resilience: Before 64% After 84% (20% increase) • Personal Power (self-efficacy): Before 45% After 81% (36 % increase) • Goal Directedness: Before 42% After 67% (25% increase) • Flexibility: Before 65% After 86% (21% increase) In the same study, there was testimony evidence for improved retention, improved relationships and, critically, improved impact on customers as well as general performance.

References Hunter, J.E. (1984). Validity and utility of alternate predictors of job performance. Psychological Bulletin, 96, 72–98. Jenkins, D. & Maddocks, J. (2005). Prison officers, emotional labour and the intelligent management of emotions. SDR. BPS Conference. Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. LeDoux, J. (2003). The emotional brain. Phoenix. A Division of Orion. Maddocks, J. (2005). Research studies on the ‘ie’ – Technical manual. JCA. Maddocks, J. (2007). A three-month pre- and post-study applying the human element to developing emotional intelligence. Ezine. www.emotionalintelligence.co.uk Maddocks, J. & Sparrow, T. (1998). The Individual Effectiveness Questionnaire. JCA.

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focus on talent management In order to understand what the term ‘talent management’ means in the current marketplace, how companies best identify talent and how programs to develop it are measured, we interviewed the HR directors of 20 medium and large organisations. The first question we asked, was to describe what the term means to them? “Identification, development and effective deployment of employees who are likely to make a significant difference to the performance of an organisation.” “Developing and orchestrating the potential and identified capability contained within a workforce.” “A structured plan to evaluate the levels of talent available to an organisation, both internally and externally, and to be able to maximise that talent in ways that continually improve business performance.” For most, it was a process which comprises of identifying the very best internal and external candidates, developing their potential and ensuring the right drivers are put in place to ensure talent is valued, and therefore retained, within an organisation. When questioned on how companies can best identify and develop talent, the HR directors felt a collaboration of ‘sourcing, attracting, recruiting and onboarding’ was the most important factor, but that a combination of different tactics was the best solution.

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Primarily, providing promotion and transitioning, as well as training and development opportunities were identified as the forefront of any programme. However, managing and defining competitive salaries remains a key consideration for both internal and external candidates and must be offered in partnership with other benefits in order to distinguish an organisation from its competitors. Interestingly, for most of the HR directors ‘talent management’ had become an overused phrase, with more than three quarters (76.2%) feeling that it was repeated too much within their organisation or industry. There was an opinion in some quarters that it seems to be applied to only the “special ones”, and that in fact talent should be seen as potential to add significant value to an organisation not just select individuals.


So not only did they feel it was being used too frequently but also that it was being misused on some levels. However, despite the term being first introduced back in the 1990’s, HR directors felt ‘talent’ was still the right word to be using – with 71.4% in agreement. However, one individual suggested this is due to the fact that there are currently are no alternatives. There was less of a consensus on how best to measure ROI within talent management programs. A few of the HR directors we interviewed identified a measure against the number of appointments and promotions of internal candidates compared to those recruited externally. Although for the majority of HR directors the view was that is very hard to measure ROI accurately, and any judgement was based loosely on subjective, qualitative data. For example, the perceived value they added to a department or whether the individual envisaged a future in the company and whether they felt valued. It is clear that measuring ROI within a talent management programme is a challenge and that many HR directors admit their current process falls short. In the current economic climate the need to identify and retain talent to maximise the potential of an organisation is increasingly important. The recruitment industry must look at helping companies to find the best talent. Organisations must also continue to develop an effective model for defining and measuring talent, to ensure they retain their very best employees and maximise business performance.

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the candidate’s perspective To provide an alternative view, we interviewed four candidates working in Procurement, HR and Finance and asked them what they thought of ‘talent management’.

What in your opinion does the term ‘talent management’ mean?

1. Guidance for able employees 2. The business to provide the recruitment team with numbers as well as the makeup of skills required both in short and long term, having a structured system in place to not only attract talent but also to keep them within the organisation. This whilst making them feel they will have the opportunities to grow 3. Pairing great people’s current skills and desires with opportunities to excel & feel rewarded 4. Managing talent

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Do you consider talent management to be an important factor in your decision to join an organisation?

1. Yes, it’s important for organisation to have a plan 2. Yes, the opportunity to not only offer jobs to professionals, but to have the chance to offer careers. Working within a company that has a structured path for career development 3. Yes, because you will not stand still, your career will be dynamic 4. Yes, this shows how employees future is to be progressed

How do you think companies should go about attracting and retaining the best talent?

1. Offer diverse and more free range roles; more autonomy 2. It is crucial that the centre of excellence for talent within an organisation makes time to listen and take on board the needs of the business. To understand not only the talent they require, but also to understand both the long term and short term plans for particular areas. Certainly the best way to retain talent is to make the best feel appreciated. Offer a structured and stable path for career development 3. Listen to the genuine goals and aspirations in regular reviews. The person who joined with a certain CV and aims will mature and change. Matching this fluidity with opportunities (including secondments and sabbaticals) will retain the best 4. Clear lines of promotion

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If your employer has a talent management programme how has it impacted on your career development? 1. N/a 2. I have already been promoted and moved into more challenging roles twice. This hasn’t just been down to what I have done within my roles, but also the leaders making sure they have an in-depth understanding of what I enjoy to do and what motivates me on a daily basis 3. Positive opportunity to move to our London office and work with global clients 4. No programme in my company

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Do you see talent management as an integral part of your career development?

1. Not so far 2. Absolutely. Being involved in attracting, retaining and creating talent pipelines also gives me additional confidence that the organisation goes out of its way to make its employees feel respected and sought after 3. Yes 4. Yes as it shows how valued I am as an employee and will show if my talents will go to a waste at this company or used better elsewhere

What are you/what will you be doing to ensure you get the best out of the organisation you work for?

1. Looking for opportunities; making connections 2. Keeping in contact with all parts of the business. Understanding the needs of the business, future opportunities and projects in the pipeline and also understanding where and how my department plans to evolve. Certainly communication is the key 3. I have regular sessions, in which I am open and honest about my life goals, so that they can understand me as person as well as a worker 4. Work honestly

From your experience have employers put enough emphasis on your personal development? 1. No 2. Yes 3. No 4. No

To summarise, three of four interviewed consider talent management to be an important factor in their decision process when joining a new organisation. There is a clear consistency in the definition, with focus on individual skills and personal opportunities. Those with a talent management programme in place have experienced only positive associations which in turn is suggested to retain and develop top talent.

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about Barclay Meade Barclay Meade is one of the UK’s leading professional staffing recruitment agencies, specialising in finance & accounting, financial services, human resources, procurement, supply chain and logistics, sales, marketing communications and e-commerce and executive search. With experts across all eight fields dealing with permanent and temporary recruitment solutions on a nationwide basis, Barclay Meade listens, questions and offers advice based on client aspirations. Barclay Meade has four regional offices based in the Solent, London, St Albans and Aberdeen. www.barclaymeade.com

t: 0843 208 1255 www.barclaymeade.com


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