Talent Management: a real priority or window dressing?

More than 2 years ago we published “10 talent management trends for 2016”. Time for an update.

8 talent management trends for 2018

When you ask CEO’s and CHRO’s what their key priorities are for the coming year, talent management always is one of the issues high on the list. Talent management is an easy and safe choice. Nobody will argue that talent management is not important. Supervisory Boards love to talk about succession and talent management. Talent management is generally seen as something long-term. When you hear terms as “strategic”, “long-term”, “future” and “investment”, you must be careful. For talent management this means: it is important, but not urgent. For the CEO, it means: I have ticked the box, but now HR can deal with it. Of course, I will visit the final session of the senior management program, of course, I will personally mentor one or two high potentials, but please, do not bother me too much about talent management, I have more urgent matters on my plate.  A big challenge for organisations is to make talent management urgent, and to make it a priority of today, not of the future. By Tom Haak, 24th, July 2017

Here is my list with the talent management trends for the coming year. Some of them are wishful thinking, in the hope we are still able to influence the trends.

  1. A focus on today, not on the future

    Instead of focusing on talent management interventions that have, hopefully, a long term effect (such as traineeships and development programs), you can focus on the interventions that have an effect today. Some examples:
    – Remove the blocker in the management team, and appoint one of your top potentials instead;
    – Appoint one of your biggest talents as Chief Digital Officer;
    – Give teams of high potentials responsibility for the development of new markets;
    – Don’t hesitate to put your best people on the most important jobs.

  2. From a standard to an individual approach

    The most important trend in HR is individualisation. Today it is no longer necessary to make assumptions about what people need and want. Today it is no longer necessary to divide the workforce in crude segment (“High Potentials”, “Middle Management”, “The older employees”). In consumer marketing, the individual approach is becoming very common. The way organisations treat employees, is lagging. Employees are more and more expecting the type of experience they have as consumers, in the workplace (read “The consumerisation of HR“).
    In talent management a tailored individual approach is very important. If you know what the capabilities of people are, what their wishes are and in what direction they want to develop, you can design opportunities that fit best with the individual needs and wishes. With the technology of today, you are able to know your employees better than they know themselves.

  3. Blurring boundaries between internal and external

    There is talent everywhere. Organisations limit themselves unnecessary, if they focus too much on developing and retaining the talent on the payroll. You can make your talent pools larger, if you include talent elsewhere (at suppliers and partners, in the group of alumni, the self-employed professionals who work for your organisation).

  4. Performance consulting

    Good people want to become better. Performance consulting is the practice, to help people to become better, by giving them regular and granular feedback, based on real performance. Helping top performers to become better, is not easy. It is a lot easier to give someone with average performance some guidance on how to improve performance.

  5. More focus on teams

    Most of the HR practices, including talent management, are still very much focused on individuals (Read: “From individuals to networks of teams“). At the same time, teams are the major building blocks in most organisations. Developing and strengthening talent teams is still an underdeveloped practice, but will get more attention in the coming years.

  6. The talent experience is important

    On Twitter, there is a hashtag #myfirstday. People post photos of their first day in the new job. A photo of a nice clean desk, with a MacBook Pro and some flowers, or a photo of the nice lunch with the team on Day One. The employee experience better be nice! People like to share experiences, and the more positive experiences they share via social media, the better for the employer branding. Do you know what the experience of your talent is? Do they share heroic stories via Facebook and Instagram? How does the talent experience your company provides score on a scale from 1-100?

  7. A more organic approach to talent management

    Planning and control are overrated. Most talent management programs cost a lot of money, and do not deliver on the high expectations. HR and management are used to design and implement programs, and life might feel empty without. I was Speaking about talent management with a friend, who is working at a medium sized multinational, recently. She said she was now advocating a “go with the flow” approach. Talent in their organisation often start initiatives without any corporate involvement. The main task of the corporate team is to stimulate and not to stop these initiatives, and not to force them to a global approach immediately. An interesting organic approach.

  8. Talent Analytics as the foundation

    Talent analytics is the foundation of all talent management initiatives. The most important talent management trends can be implemented, as they are fuelled by talent analytics. We would hope talent analytics would be mainstream by now, but unfortunately many organisations are still exploring the possibilities to use talent analytics. When to focus is moving from the future to today, speed is more important than ever. Can you keep track of how the capabilities of people are involving? Can you quickly make a match between the urgent opportunity and the available talent? Are you able to track the engagement of key players real time?

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