Talent Management: More of the Same Just Won't Do

By Richard Doherty

The annual PWC CEO survey is a great source of macro level data and I look forward each year to the HR and Talent related insight it generates. The 2014 survey did not disappoint with some quite startling results if you’re involved in HR in some shape or form.

There are a couple of statistics from the talent part of the survey that I would like to focus on for this blog posting. Specifically the fact that 93% of the CEO’s surveyed, yes 93%, “say that they recognise the need to make a change, or are already changing, their strategy for attracting and retaining talent”. This is up from 77% the previous year. So, not only do we have a problem here, but it’s getting worse!

We could interpret this number in one of two ways. Firstly we could say that the importance of attracting and developing talent is increasing, so CEO’s are more focused on it. I think that would be the easy way out. The second interpretation could be that CEO’s are not at all happy with the talent management service and strategy they are currently receiving from HR and are demanding change. I think this is probably nearer to the truth and will be influenced by a number of factors including their perception of HR, the historic level of investment in HR/Talent Management systems and so on.

It does get slightly worse though. According to the survey, only 34% of CEO’s have the confidence that HR is prepared to make the necessary transformative changes to capitalise on the mega trends of mobile, demographic shifts, urbanisation, etc – all of which impact talent strategies directly.

The clear message from the CEO’s is that the way talent is managed has to change and they lack confidence in HR’s ability to execute on that change. 

So what do you do if your CEO is one of the 93%? Even worse, if he/she is one of the 66%? Clearly you need to change the way your organisation manages talent, you need to innovate. This will likely involve changes in strategy, technology and organisation – no mean feat in most organisations. Layer on top of that a multi-generational workforce with significantly different expectations from work, the emergence of social technologies in the workplace, skills shortages and shorter and shorter business cycles requiring greater and greater organisational agility.

I don’t have the silver bullet, however I have some suggestions:

  • The CEO has to be the executive sponsor of your talent initiative;
  • Push as much responsibility as possible for talent to the line managers. HR doesn’t manage talent, managers do;
  • Provide managers with the processes, data, information and tools to manage talent effectively;
  • Get an integrated talent management system. Spreadsheets, documents and Powerpoint presentations just don’t cut it;
  • Make sure your integrated talent management system is in the Cloud because you can implement it quickly and you can change it quickly, supporting the business agility I mentioned earlier;
  • Create a personalised talent experience for each employee – one size doesn’t fit all. For example, some will want to collaborate internally using social tools and some won’t – that should be OK;
  • Make sure talent tools and information can be accessed anytime, anyplace – embrace mobile technology;
  • Reduce the reliance on intuition to manage talent by providing better insight from a more complete, single version of the truth, talent dataset.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought and some inspiration for addressing the major talent challenges many organisations are facing.

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Richard brings more than 14 years of cloud based HCM solution experience to his role as HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, based in the UK. As HCM Strategy Director he has a thought leadership role and works closely with Oracle’s strategic customer accounts to explore the opportunities and benefits that can be realised by the deployment of leading edge HR solutions. Follow Richard on Twitter: @RichardDoherty

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