Global Talent Management4th March 2021
The primary purpose of talent management is to create a motivated workforce who will stay with your company in the long run. The exact way to achieve this will differ from company to company.
A multi-year, collaborative research study set out to examine the steps global companies can take to ensure that they recruit, develop and deploy the right people. Researchers from institutions including INSEAD, Cornell, and Cambridge University came together and analysed companies that were selected based on superior business performance and reputation.
They found that in addition to adhering to a common set of talent management principles, leading companies follow many of the same talent-related practices. During their study, they asked interviewees why they thought their company’s individual practices were effective and valuable. As a result of their responses, the authors formulated six core principles.
Adopting a set of principles rather than best practices is more effective at challenging current thinking. Moreover, best practices are only ‘best’ in the context for which they were designed; principles, on the other hand, have broad application.
- Alignment with strategy: managers should ask themselves, given the company’s strategy, what kind of talent do we need? Strategic flexibility is important, and organizations must be able to adapt to changing business conditions and revamp their talent approach when necessary. Examples of companies that have done so include; GE and Oracle.
- Internal consistency: implementing practices in isolation may not work and can actually be counter productive. The principle of internal consistency refers to the way the company’s talent management practices fit with each other. Consistency is crucial. The emphasis placed on consistency at companies such as BAE Systems and IBM can help to illustrate why that is paramount.
- Cultural embeddedness: many successful companies make deliberate efforts to integrate their stated core values and business principles into talent management processes such as hiring methods, leadership development activities, performance management systems, and compensation and benefits programs. IKEA, the Sweden-based furniture retailer, for example, where applicants are selected using tools that focus on values and cultural fit. Another approach to promoting the organization’s core values and behavioural standards can through secondary socialization and training.
- Management involvement: successful companies know that the talent management process needs to have broad ownership, not just by HR, but by managers at all levels, including the CEO. Senior leaders need to be actively involved in the talent management process and make recruitment, succession planning, leadership development and retention of key employees their top priorities. One of the most potent tools companies can use to develop leaders is to involve line managers. It means getting them to play a key role in the recruitment of talent and then making them accountable for developing the skills and knowledge of their employees. The research cites the example of Unilever to demonstrate how this can be done.
- Balance of global and local needs: for organizations operating in multiple countries, cultures and institutional environments, managers need to figure out how to respond to local demands while maintaining a coherent HR strategy and management approach. The research found different methods of doing this, giving examples of Matsushita, Rolls Royce, Shell and others. However, among all the companies they studied, there was no single strategy.
- Employer branding through differentiation: companies should find ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors, in order to attract employees with the right skills and attitudes. The companies studied differed considerably in how they resolve the tension between maintaining a consistent brand identity across business units and regions and responding to local demands. One-way companies are trying to get an edge on competitors in attracting talent is by stressing their corporate social responsibility activities.
The differentiated approach. Although the practice of sorting employees based on their performance and potential has generated criticism, many companies in our study placed heavy emphasis on high-potential employees. Companies favoring this approach focused most of the rewards, incentives and attention on their top talent (“A players”); gave less recognition, financial rewards and development attention to the bulk of the other employees (“B players”); and worked aggressively to weed out employees who didn’t meet performance expectations and were deemed to have little potential (“C players”). This approach has been popularized by General Electric’s “vitality curve,” which differentiates between the top 20%, the middle 70% and the bottom 10%. The actual definition of “high potential” tends to vary from company to company, but many factor in the employee’s cultural fit and values. Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, for example, looks at whether someone displays the key values and behaviors the company wants in its future leaders.
The percentage of employees included in the high-potential group also differs across companies. For example, Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer products company, puts 15% of employees from each management level in its high-potential category each year, expecting that they will move to the next management level within five years. Other companies are more selective. Infosys, a global technology services company headquartered in Bangalore, India, limits the high-potential pool to less than 3% of the total work force in an effort to manage expectations and limit potential frustration, productivity loss and harmful attrition.
The inclusive approach. Some companies prefer a more inclusive approach and attempt to address the needs of employees at all levels of the organization. For example, when asked how Shell defined talent, Shell’s new head of talent management replied, Under an inclusive approach, talent management tactics used for different groups are based on an assessment of how best to leverage the value that each group of employees can bring to the company.
The two philosophies of talent management are not mutually exclusive; many of the companies we studied use a combination of both. Depending on the specific talent pool (such as senior executive, technical expert and early career high-potential), there will usually be different career paths and development strategies. A hybrid approach allows for differentiation, and it skirts the controversial issue of whether some employee groups are intrinsically more valuable than others.
Talent Management initiatives
- Recognition: Recognising employees’ contribution and their work on individual grounds, boost up self-confidence in them.
- Remuneration and Reward: Increasing pay and remuneration of the employees as a reward for their better performance.
- Providing Opportunities: Giving the charge of challenging projects to the employees along with the authority and responsibility of the same, makes them more confident.
- Role Design: The role of employees in the organisation must be designed to keep them occupied and committed, it must be flexible enough to inculcate and adapt to the employee’s talent and knowledge.
- Job Rotation: Employees lack enthusiasm if they perform the same kind of work daily. Thus, job rotation or temporary shifting of employees from one job to another within the organisation is essential to keep them engaged and motivated.
- Training and Development: On the job training, e-learning programmes, work-related tutorials, educational courses, internship, etc. are essential to enhance the competencies, skills and knowledge of the employees.
- Succession Planning: Internal promotions helps identify and develop an individual who can be the successor to senior positions in the organisation.
- Flexibility: Providing a flexible work environment to the employees makes them more adaptable to the organisation and brings out their creativity.
- Relationship Management: Maintaining a positive workplace where employees are free to express their ideas, take part in the decision-making process, encourage employees to achieve goals and are rewarded for better performance leads to employee retention.
- Self-motivation: Nothing can be effective if the employee is not self-determined and motivated to work.