Article: Talent management is an approach, not a function: Dr. Sripada


Talent management is an approach, not a function: Dr. Sripada

In conversation with Dr. Sripada Chandrasekhar, Vice President & Head HR, India/South Asia, IBM

Another challenge in having the right people in the right role is that assumption that one needs to have a very deep understanding of the role itself


Talent management is an approach and not a function - Dr. Sripada Chandrasekhar, Vice President & Head - HR, India/South Asia, IBM

Why is Talent Management so important today?

The obvious reason is of course the shortage of talent, both at skills level and at a fitment level. Talent Management becomes business crucial when you need to find the right person for the right role and that is in short supply. The more subtle part of the increasing importance of talent management is to drive economic value of talent. Having the right people at the right place results in business outcome and talent can also become a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The centrality of talent management is the CEO agenda has come as the talent is today in the shareholders mind.

How can Talent Management ensure that right people are in the right roles?

There are many models, literature, studies on this… bottom line is the integrated approach to talent management that is important. The real issue that organizations face is to be able to integrate the different parts of the puzzle. From my experience, each part of the talent management process does well, be it recruitment, be it performance management etc, they independently function well but not as an integrated platform.
To have right people in the right role, one needs to have a very deep understanding of the role itself; people understand job, they understand levels, bands, grades but not roles.
Role is the set of competencies to perform a job. The consequence of it is when we recruit, we look for similar experience from the activities that the job has defined under the assumption that if the person has done the work before, he /she will be able to perform it successfully instead of looking for capability we look for previous experience. People are more than just a bio data and that approach also assumes that what we do today, we will continue to do tomorrow, which is seldom the case.
For example, in the telecom industry if a company is looking for a CEO and the main business goal for the company is increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) we would take a list of CEOs of competitor firms and see which firms had increased ARPU under their tenure. This would be a better talent to look at than any CEO of a telecom firm. So the focus should be to define business outcomes, then to define the talent outcomes and then see the talent pool.

Companies need to look at their role inventory as moving target, we need to keep updating and upgrading the same with a futuristic view on what will the business need in the future. If we get the equation right, one the one hand, the organization looking at their dynamic roles periodically and on the other hand assessing people abilities beyond their pedigree and bio-data, the choices will be right.
I think companies are long way to go on finding this equation, not only in India but globally. Some have got it right but nobody has perfected it.

Do HR departments need to be restructured when launching talent management?

I am not in favor of re-structure or re-naming to create change, I believe that if you do that you get caught in the nomenclature and you do not achieve anything. Integration is based on working together and it is not a structure but a leadership issue. I believe specialization in HR will continue but the framework or the method behind the specialization needs to be common. Talent Management is an approach and not a function.

What are the key elements for a successful Talent Management practice?

Success will not lie on the creativity or innovation of practices but on the implementation. In IBM for example for example stretch assignments, mentoring and job shadowing is used for developing internal talent for the next role. The differentiator between companies who do this well and others, not that they are doing anything different but the focus on execution and when implemented can support the growth of the organization exceptionally.

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Topics: C-Suite, Strategic HR, #ExpertViews

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