How do we anticipate the sources of uncertainty and risk (U&R) when we do talent management (TM) work? this post explores this topic and provides a conceptual framework for developing a talent strategy specific check sheet.
We can begin by considering how we visualize TM in the first place. How we define something determines our more immediate sources of U&R
We define TM as:
Continuously meeting our timely access and use of talent needs in highly effective business driven ways.
- continuous – events that interrupt
- meeting timely access – events that impact whether talent we need is on time (versus too early, and/or too late) we could even include ought right shortages
- use – we become unable to make use of the available talent we have access to (strikes/work to rules, sickness, performance robbing aspects (poor supervision, poor tools, etc.)
- effective use – again performance impacting events, regulations and rules
- business driven – changes in business model events that impact our talent needs and/or relative position of strength
We can also look to what contributes to uncertainty. These would be events where predictability (even foreseeability) are upset. these will typically be externalities. For example, do you know what the impacts on your business could be if China decided to build a two kilometre high super building/city? If you are in construction, or are planning on expanding your operations with a new facility, you better. Hint: access to glass (glaziers and glass manufacturing talent).
In the main, U events are Impacting our supplies of talent, our use of talent, our demand for talent outcomes. Clearly we can build specific lists of possible events that can impact in any one of these three areas.
We can use the above to develop a conceptual list of topics (and a checklist) that outline possible risk like events. For TM, risk like events are foreseeable, the dynamics of how they occur and influence and the likelihood are discernible. TM risk like events tend to be “eroding” like events. That is, over time, our access and use of talent deteriorates. Most larger firms handle these forms of U&R by doing workforce planning types of TM.
We can identify three general categories of TM risk:
This includes retirement, sick leave, turnover, churnover, retirement on the job, etc.
Second: Competency erosion
There are two typical event sources here. The first source is the effects of our capital investments – they drive what talent we need. If we maintain investments over time, we run the risk of becoming obsolete. Obsolescence can take the form that our outside sources of talent (e.g., technical trained students) are no longer trained in our capital invested systems
A second source, is the business model itself, we can have a business that limits the ability of our critical talent to learn new competencies through experiential means.
Third: Jump shifts in our business model/operations
Effective TM is a why, what, how, where, and when effort. Obviously, if we change our operations in a significant way, we place demands on TM in the areas of where and when. If we change our business model, we affect our TM requirements in the why, what, how as well as the where and when areas.
How do we deal with Black Swan events? Apart from praying I suggest we can do the following:
- Be clear on the critical TM assumptions that makes our approaches effective.
- Be clear on the critical causal aspects for each of these assumptions.
- Encourage people and take periodic reviews to assess whether there are any events and/or trends that are looking like they could impact our assumptions or what makes them “tick”
- Understand the “lead times” that will be necessary to install an effective mitigation strategy.
- Have more than one active strategy for critical TM components in your operations.
What are your thoughts?