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War for talent: myths and facts

The subject of a systemic approach to talent management and organizational development has become a topic of scientific research. The issue of human potential and the right environment for potential development, which would benefit a business organization, requires a multilayered approach. The approach demands understanding of various factors, for example: in what areas people can become excellent, how to provide conditions for learning and for the right use of talent in the organization, how to maintain employee engagement and loyalty and how to manage the level of certain capabilities, understood as a resource, to quickly and adequately meet the market and financial needs of the company. Marta Bara, lecturer in the professional certification and training program “Strategic Talent and Development Management in Companies”, at SWPS University, talks about myths and facts related to talent management in organizations.

War for talent

As a consultant, I meet members of HR departments, business professionals, employees, managers and teams who are the direct addresees of various development programs, on daily basis. Often, I am under the impression that I balance on the line between various perspectives that all these groups easily forget in their daily work. It is easy to let oneself be engrossed in development activities and lose the sight of the overall needs of the business related to human resources management or to completely focus on maintaining the current market position and lose track of what keeps employees motivated to work towards this position. In this respect, people, i.e. managers and employees, talk about something completely different. For many years now, a war for talent has been ongoing. In this war finding and retaining employees has become the most urgent challenge of HR departments and organizations and only the integration of many perspectives has a chance to bring valuable solutions.

The subject of a systemic approach to talent management and organizational development has become a topic of scientific research. The issue of human potential and the right environment for its development that would benefit a business organization requires a multilayered approach. The approach demands understanding of various factors, for example: in what areas people can become excellent, how to provide conditions for learning and for the right use of talent in the organization, how to maintain employee engagement and loyalty and how to manage the level of certain capabilities, understood as a resource, to quickly and adequately meet the market and financial needs of the company.

In an unstable market environment, companies often abandon investment in people, forgo training and development and shelf leadership development projects and internship programs. Actually, especially in these situations, human potential should be treated as part of the investment strategy not as an expenditure. When “the perfect storm” comes, only the most loyal and the most engaged employees will remain on deck.

Myths about talent management in organization

When in the 1990s McKinsey & Company, an American worldwide management consulting firm used a phrase “war for talent” in one of its reports, many people thought that it was an exaggeration or a trendy catchphrase. The term refers to the competitive landscape related to the recruitment and retention of talented employees. With many opportunities, the ease of mobility and employees’ drive for development, the talent war is no longer a novelty, but a constant burning problem. Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones and Beth Axelrod, authors of “The War for Talent” debunk popular myths and ineffective solutions, which are still in use by organizations.

Myth 1: Hire talented specialists

Hiring the best specialists and tempting them with high earnings will help the company to attract people, who may ensure company’s success. However, the lack of opportunities for further development will not be conducive to their feelings of loyalty and they will leave, when they get a better offer. The challenge is to retain employees, support their development and learn how to manage effectiveness as an organization.

Myth 2: Cut costs

In an unstable market environment, companies first look for savings in the areas, which they see as temporarily insignificant, and they focus on interventions. They often abandon investment in people, forgo training and development and shelf leadership development projects and internship programs. Actually, especially in these situations, human potential should be treated as part of the investment strategy instead of being treated as an expenditure in the budget. When “the perfect storm” comes, only the most loyal and the most engaged employees will remain on deck.

Myth 3: HR is responsible for talent management

Talent in organizations is not exclusively limited to high potential employees. However, people who know how to make use of their talent to benefit the organization, are appreciated. Although recognizing employee potential indeed seems to be the task of HR, the effectiveness depends on a direct behavior of an employee in a given role in the organization. Mangers are in charge of their teams and they are responsible for the results. The lack of processes for the recognition and correction of management problems, such as management of relationships and effectiveness, prevents effective potential management of talented employees. This is the reason why talent management transcends diagnostic tools and intervention design and why it demands strategic planning and development of comprehensive solutions.

Summary

Although organizations tend to do well in the area of measurement of employee effectiveness, it is not as easy to measure employee development potential, to plan an optimal development path and to provide development opportunities for many people who, as the result, will tie their achievements and their future with the organization.

 

marta bara

About the Author

Marta Bara - expert in team and leader development, lecturer in the professional certification and training program “Strategic Talent and Development Management in Companies, at SWPS University. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach with several years of experience and holds various professional certificates, including: a certificate of the International Coach Community, Interpersonal Training Intra certificate, and Trop Action Learning certificate. She is also a member of the Polish Psychological Association. She has several years of practical experience in developing leaders and teams and in supervising and training of coaches and trainers. She has been applying the Gallup methodology in her work since 2009. She conducted several thousands professional talent assessments using the Clifton Strengths tool for managers and key employees. She develops and supervises comprehensive development programs focused on strengths and engagement in organizations. She is responsible for aligning the Gallup method and recommended programs to the culture and strategic goals of organizations. She trains coaches, trainers and HR specialists in the Gallup methodology. Together with Strengths Community (www.strengthscommunity.pl) she founded a group of enthusiasts of the strengths development method, which meets regularly.

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