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Home First Months Performance Management Manage your talent with an integrated approach

Manage your talent with an integrated approach

Rob Bothma
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Talent management can best be defined as the integration of all of the complex processes within HR - managed in an integrated and optimised environment - to deliver business benefits to the organisation. Many of the organisations I come into contact with like to say that their employees are their greatest asset and also the source of their competitive advantage, however many of them are unprepared for the challenge they face - to find, motivate and retain the employees they need to achieve their business goals.

I often say that if organisations managed their financial assets as loosely as they do their human assets, then their auditors would probably raise an issue with them on their inefficient use of funds. It's vital to the organisation's success to be able to measure and manage their employees' contributions to the bottom line.

As the effects of the financial crisis linger, organisations are continually faced with the challenges of ensuring their profitability while creating an environment to nurture sustainable growth. As a result, the role of the HR department needs to become strategically focused, as ultimately it's the people and their skills that will determine the future of the organisation.

In 1997, a McKinsey study coined the term 'war for talent'. This research showed that companies with strong talent practices earned 33% higher shareholder returns than their counterparts. In 2012, we are already well into the talent age, so what are some of the challenges that organisations are facing when it comes to managing talent?

Manage your talent with a talent management strategy

Today, organisations need to understand that there's a difference between tactical HR and strategic talent management. Transactional HR activities are an administrative overhead and will always be necessary. The key is to have these as automated as far as possible. Talent management, however, is not just one single function – it's a series of integrated processes that work together to drive strategy outcomes. It's a continuous process that develops the optimal workforce for your business as opposed to being a once-off project.

Today, another great challenge that organisations face in HR is how to manage the different silos of HR processes and technologies that have emerged. Organisations find that the competitive battlefront is for the best people because they're actually the true value contributors to the organisation. There's no doubt that the predicted shortage of skills worldwide will also affect South Africa, which in turn faces its own specific challenges especially when it comes to the effects of HIV on the workforce as well as the seemingly never increasing emigration of our skilled resources.

Organisations need to embark on dual strategies

The first is to ensure that their current workforce is trained regularly to ensure that the skills sets of the employees align with the skills requirements of the organisation. Second is a strategy around the recruitment and selection of the correct people who meet the skills sets required to fulfil the organisation's strategy requirements.

Enough can't be said about an organisation maintaining a suitably skilled workforce, and it stands to reason that if the organisation is not willing to train its employees then they'll certainly leave and join an organisation that will train them.

It should also be remembered that talent management is a forward-looking function, and so planning is essential. In conjunction with this, the organisation's training requirements need to be matched and updated to address its current skills requirements.

Your talent management strategy needs to encompass all the following HR functions - and although segmented – and these should be managed as a single process:

  • Recruitment and selection,
  • Performance management,
  • Workforce planning,
  • Skills gap analysis,
  • Remuneration,
  • Succession planning,
  • Career path planning, and
  • Training and development.

Managing the work-life balance

One of the changes we have seen is that employees are far more aware about the balance between their work life and their home life. It's not uncommon for a candidate to turn a job offer down if it doesn't fit into their personal life plan. Organisations need to have more flexible working arrangements to secure the services of candidates.

Linked to this change in focus on a work-life balance is the employee's desire to have a sense of purpose in his or her work. The scenario of people trudging to work each day to earn their living has become a thing of the past.

Retain your top talent

There are a number of key actions an organisation can implement into its staff retention strategy.

1. Have a training and development plan for every employee

Never underestimate the importance an employee places on his or her career development plan. Employees want to see their careers grow, and key to this is expanding their skills sets. It is, however, unfortunate that the more skilled an employee is, the more attractive they become to the opposition and the more likely it becomes that they'll resign and seek greener pastures elsewhere.

2. Implement a sound remuneration strategy

It's imperative that businesses don't have skills growth as the only strategy for staff retention. Linked to staff retention is the remuneration strategy, which should include aspects such as flexible remuneration - a policy that allows employees to structure their package that suits their lifestyles.

3. Form an incentive scheme

Finally, when it comes to reward an organisation must also ensure that employees are able to accumulate wealth as opposed to just earning a good salary. This can be done through some form of share incentive scheme. This starts focusing employees on the performance of the organisation as a whole, as opposed to just getting their job done, which will put your company on the right track to achieve its strategic outcomes and desired level of success.

In conclusion, your talent management strategy needs to be the key enabler of talent in your organisation. This is because the quality of your employees and the skills they contribute will ultimately determine your competitive advantage.

References: The War on Talent research – McKinsey 1997


Rob Bothma is an HR Systems Industry Specialist at NGA Africa, a non-executive director, Fellow and Vice President of the Institute of People Management, Member of the Executive Board of HR Pulse and co-author of the 4th Edition of Contemporary Issues in HRM.

Contact: Rob Bothma at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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