Turn Your Company Into a Talent Factory

By: Nicholas Goh C S

Attracting and retaining the best people is a major priority in the long-term strategic expansion outlook of many companies. With the impending retirement of a graying population and rapidly evolving business climates, faulty leadership development processes and executive inattention now carry a tangible cost. Companies have been forced to pass up on new businesses because they did not have the talent to see their growth strategies to fruition.

Although the importance of developing talent has been recognized, with resources being dedicated to systems and processes that support talent management, an astonishing number of companies still struggle to fill key positions, which puts a considerable constraint on their potential to grow.

The problem for many companies lies in the disjunction between talent processes and growth objectives. Processes need to be functional, with the appropriate tools and systems that allow a company to put the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time. In order to achieve this aim, these processes need to be linked to the company's objectives to support the management's top concerns: driving performance and creating a conducive climate.

Centrally designed human resources practices and policies will assist the management in identifying expertise that supports expansion. Nevertheless, allowing for a degree of built-in flexibility will benefit human resource personnel, who can then accommodate variations according to the disparate demands of the divisions. Companywide processes for assessment, recruitment, performance, career management and leadership development can be supplemented with a menu of tools ranging from psychometric tests to individual interviews that probe employees' aspirations.

Establishing an efficient talent management system will also assist mangers in identifying and tracking the careers of high-potentials within the firm. After these employees have been identified, they can be initially assigned new projects within their line of business and over time, are given opportunities to collaborate with personnel from other divisions. Managers can thus ensure that suitable groups of employees are given a holistic perspective of the company's operations and that they are groomed to assume leadership positions that cut across different areas of expertise.

Similarly, the senior cadre of general managers can be put on a defined track. Employees in this pool are assigned to regional projects and given positions that cross boundaries. This allows them to inculcate global mindsets and aligns their expectations with that of the company's globalization strategies. Such clear stratification of the employees' development tracks gives a sense of security; employees can weigh themselves against the standards benchmarked by the company and develop long-term goals and outlook.

Leaders should also maintain relationship dialogues with members of each pool, in face-to-face conversations where possible, to address their development needs and concerns. The aim is to facilitate a set of experiences that leads to more in-depth knowledge of various facets of the business as well as an understanding of the different cultural environments in which the company operates. When employees comprehend and accept their roles within the organization, their skills and capabilities can be streamlined to meet the needs of the organization.

Allowing for relationship cultivation opportunities will also ensure an active feedback cycle. Rather than assessing each employee on a scale of one to five, which can be demoralizing, actively giving and soliciting feedback is a more well-rounded approach that takes into account early-stage development. Feedback can be framed in terms of development needs and support. Workplace conflicts, a factor that can result in loss of productivity and talent, can also be addressed.

It is widely recognized that people are a company's most important assets, but making the most of them has acquired a new urgency. Any company aiming to grow has little hope of achieving its goals without the ability to put the right people on the ground. Companies can apply focus and drive toward capital, information technology, equipment and world-class processes but if there is an insufficient pipeline of high-potential employees to fill strategic management roles, fulfilling the potential for growth will be an uphill task.

Human Resources
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