Talent Management is more than getting and keeping great employees


For those who are interested effective Talent Management (TM) I wonder if you are frustrated with the ineffective singular focus on employee centric solutions. By this I mean that the secret to successful TM is to be a great employer. Almost all reading and listening I have done on this subject accentuates this core message – it’s all about getting and keeping great employees. Witness a recent look at how Wikipedia described TM:

“… the process of developing and integrating mew workers, developing and retaining current workers, and attracting highly skilled workers to work for your company.”

Over the last number of years as a management consultant I have been  suggesting that this employee centric notion of TM is operationally and competitively limiting. I believe this “problem” has been poorly defined and stated. The risk of poorly stated issues is we are lead into sub-optimum strategies. When we don’t improve our problem description we are challenged to find something more effective where our recent efforts were not successful enough. See the issue as a nail, you will tend to look for a better hammer when your current hammer is ineffective!

Over future BLOG postings I will offer up insights that have come my way through the work I’ve done with many well meaning and intelligent people. I hope that those who have a parallel passion to mine will be inclined to make suggestions too. My best learning has been by the “pushing” others have done on my thinking.

Let me start by offering up my current approach to describing the TM issue:

“Continuously meeting highly effective access and use of necessary talent as and when we we need it.”

There are a couple of key features imbedded in this description: it is truly strategy neutral (unlike the Wikipedia one); it focuses on “use” as much as access; and it establishes a “conditional” linkage between use and access (i.e., effective access is conditional on type of use, and vice versa). I have come to believe these features provide significant benefits to those who make TM decisions both strategically and operationally.

Based on this description, staffing is a specific strategy to access and make use of talent as it is needed. This is a Human Resource” view, and HR is charged with leading the TM practice in most organizations. This employee centric focus is understandable, in virtually all organizations that have HR departments – they deal “only” with employment issues.

My current approach to viewing TM is to borrow from the financial management discipline: the Chief Financial Officer role – access and use of  working capital to meet the organization’s needs. There are two subsidiary financial roles.

A Treasurer looks at several core strategic options in meeting an organization’s working capital access needs: retained earnings (the employee like option), debt, equity, bonds, etc.

A Comptroller looks at the effective use of working capital within the organization. So apart from the authorizing, recording and reporting aspects of this role, there is the underlying financial use performance aspect.

My mental model considers the the use of talent as a non financial form of working capital. This adoption has lead me to some surprising conclusions. For my clients this has lead them to more useful and competitive TM strategies that were not obvious to them when using the conventional employee centric approach.

What do you think? Looking the two TM description options what comes to your mind in terms of implications and possibilities?

I would love to hear from you. Your thoughts will help guide me in terms of what you might appreciate specifically hearing from me in this BLOG.

In future BLOGS on TM I will offer these “surprising conclusions”

In my next BLOG I will provide a similar context to that on TM in the area of Risk and Uncertainty (RU).

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About 123stilllearning456

As a management consultant I am passionately interested in talent management and risk/uncertainty issues. In the area of talent management I propose that we seek strategies that look beyond the staffing/employee centric frames of reference. I have been frustrated at the "closing down on possibilities" by these more conventional staffing/employee centric approaches. I have been impressed where people have found systematic solutions to their talent management issues by going beyond the conventional approaches. In the area of risk and uncertainty, I am interested in making this topic relevant to more normal decision making situations. My conceptual foundation is to use the micro-economist's fixed/variable cost theme. I also think it is important to look at these issues for people through their emotional and psychological lens. As a premise I think risk and uncertainty only exist where there is a person who cares about possible events and its consequences. Hence, risk and uncertainty are social based concepts (no sentience, no risk and uncertainty). A major influence on my thinking in this area is Nassim Taleb of "Black Swan" fame. This BLOG provides me with an opportunity to express my thoughts on topics that interest me. As this is an online diary, content is more important to me than polish. I apologize if this distracts from readers' enjoyment and learning. Still I find this a useful way to live up to my namesake, learn more from others and hopefully provoke creative thoughts and ideas in others.
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