Many organisations, when setting up Talent Management practices grapple with these questions - where does one begin and how should one go about it? The answer perhaps lies in getting a few things right the first time and that is the focus of this article. You will still face road blocks, but they may not become show stoppers. This write-up is a practitioners account of a few things to keep in mind when embarking on Talent Management journey.
Clarify what Talent Management means for your organisation: Is it the complete process of selection, development, performance management, engagement, career and succession planning or do you want to start with a few of them? Is it for everyone or is it at a certain level and above? Is the outcome to develop leaders for tomorrow or is to identify business critical roles and succession planning for those roles? What ever it is you decide to do, its important that everyone has clarity on that. Thats the first step!
Engage leadership team into defining and owning the TM agenda: Often times, TM becomes HR’s baby to raise. Don’t fall into that trap - this is for business leaders to lead and HR to support. Define clearly roles that leadership teams and HR will play in this journey. e.g., One organisation conducted a design workshop with executive leadership team in which the TM framework was defined and journey for next 3 years planned. Other organisations have Steering Committees supported by HR which guide the talent agenda.
Its not about complex frameworks: Keep your framework simple. Too often, the technicalities make it difficult for people to understand and implement the framework. e.g. using a multitude of psychometrics or complex assessments to identify talent can itself become a block. Do what is needed and keep the process simple for ease of implementation in the early years. As process matures and people become more comfortable, it can be reevaluated.
Make it local: There are many frameworks and models available but what is important is to recognise what fits the current context and realities of the organisation. A good question to ask is - given the strategic and cultural context, will this work here? e.g., while assessment centers are a good way of identifying top talent, one organisation did not think it was feasible given the geographic spread and time and cost constraints. It decided to use other ways, which though not as robust as AC’s, never the less fit the bill for that organisation.
Start small: And that brings us to this next point - It doesn’t have to be grand as Oscars. You can start small, set the processes, test what’s working and then scale it up. One organization starting on this journey decided to institutionalise this first for CEO-2 levels before taking it down. Another chose to do this BU wise. Again, context of the organisation matters.
Get an external perspective where ever possible: If you can, work with an external consultant as they bring tremendous value by way of best practices and research. More importantly, it helps build credibility for the initiative amongst the stakeholders. Else, find other ways of bringing in external perspectives. One of the HR Heads of an organization did it beautifully when she invited some HR and Business Leads from her network of organisations that had implemented TM fr;ameworks for a sharing session with her executive leadership team. The exchange of ideas was equally beneficial for all.
Have an agreed plan and stay the course: Don’t give up and keep doing course correction as new realities emerge. Define outcomes and review against them. Have a strong governance and communication mechanism but don’t stop because its not a smooth ride. There will be bumps along the way especially in the initial years, but following some of the practices mentioned above can help you tide them over.