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The ABC’s of Building Effective Talent Management Strategies
By:  Susan Gervasi

The business world around us is rapidly changing and as Talent Management professionals, we must work with our organizations to help them meet the challenges of their global, digital, leadership, social, and cultural requirements.   Organizations are reshaping the workforce, the workplace, and the work itself.  Our role in managing the talent of the organization has tremendous ramifications for the ultimate success of the organization and its impact on the bottom line results.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US employee stays on the job approximately 5 years.  In order to attract, develop and retain the best employees, Talent Management strategies are critical.  These strategies help employees see opportunities for personal growth and development and make a correlation between their contributions and the paybacks for their efforts. Organizations with formal, structured Talent Management strategies can see revenue growth up 250%.  Many organizations today, are just not ready and are in need of a formal Human Capital Strategy.  As HR professionals, we need to work with our business partners to create a business case and a strategy for integrated Talent Management.

The real question becomes, “Where do we begin?” and “How do we get started?”  Many of our business partners feel the pain of unstructured or a lack of talent management strategies but, have not made the commitment to invest the time and resources that are required.  Our first challenge is to create a business case to influence our senior leaders and gain their commitment for the initiative.  Building the Business Case is not “rocket science” but requires a logical and detailed approach.  We begin with dialog between ourselves and our senior leaders to get clarification on the current state.  The initial questions we want to ask ourselves and our partners include:

}  Who is our top talent?
}  Is our talent fully productive and focused on things that matter and drive the business?
}  What are the strengths and weaknesses of our talent in relation to their abilities to successfully achieve our business goals?
}  Are we at risk of losing top talent because their performance goes unrecognized and is not rewarded properly?
}  Is our top talent aware of development and growth opportunities?

Once we get the right people thinking, we will continue to dig deeper into the future state of the organization.  We will ask our key leaders where the organization wants to be in the next 3, 5, and 10 years.  This could include questions such as:

}  What are the vision, mission, strategic goals, and culture of the organization?
}  How do we need to shape the organizational culture to drive our business strategy?
}  How will we continue to drive employee engagement?
}  What does our learning culture need to be?
}  What competencies and skills are critical for our leaders and key talent?
}  How will we measure success?

The bottom line is:  We need to have on-going discussions with our business partners and get a solid understanding of the organization and what is required to ensure its sustainability and competitiveness in the market.  As we collect and analyze the data, we will need to generate a formal Business Case.

The Business Case for a Talent Management Strategy should include:

1.     Definition of the problem/opportunity
2.     Detailed account of the organization’s current and future states
3.     Identification of the organization’s constraints and gaps
4.     Defined metrics
5.     Objectives of the Talent Management Strategy
6.     Explanation of the Talent Management Strategy’s scope
7.     Projected benefits (WIIFM:  What’s in it for me?)
8.     Targeted populations
9.     Details of Talent Management Program/ Initiatives
10.  Required investments (people, time, budgets)
11.  Project plan

When sharing the Business Case, it is essential to assemble the key players and succinctly articulate the data and recommendations with passion and excitement.  It is most helpful to “divide and conquer” prior to the big meeting.  In doing so, you can hold 1:1 sessions with key senior leaders and give them a “heads up” of what is to come regarding your ideas.  In that way, you align your allies and receive feedback that will allow you to best customize the case/strategy to meet senior leader needs and ensure your success.

Once the Business Case is approved, you will need to define the critical elements of your Talent Management Strategy.  The ideal situation is to create an integrated talent strategy where all the elements are linked together.  However, sometimes, reality dictates another approach.  We have to keep in mind that as we initiate this new talent strategy, we may need to take baby steps.  In doing so, we build our credibility with our business partners and grow their trust.  As you are assembling the strategy pieces, consider the following:

1.     Talent Strategy and Business Alignment:  Be sure your organization’s mission, vision, goals, and culture are linked to the Talent Management Strategy.
2.     Workforce Planning:  Include a gap analysis of your critical talent, diversity planning, talent forecasting, and critical job identification.
3.     Capability and Competency Modeling/Assessment: Build job profiles and competency models/assessments; Identify critical behaviors and required skills/experiences.
4.     Talent Acquisition:  Determine a sourcing strategy and establish candidate pools; Work with business partners to establish employer branding; Establish recruiting and selection guidelines; Create an on-boarding strategy.
5.     Leadership Development:  Establish curriculums, educational solutions, and action learning; Assess and evaluate leaders’ capabilities; Provide coaching and mentoring.
6.     Succession Planning:  Complete talent profiles; Hold talent reviews and calibrate; Identify hi potentials and create talent pools.
7.     Career Management:  Conduct assessments to serve as the basis for career and individual development plans; Establish formal coaching and mentoring programs.
8.     Performance Management:  Create cascading goals and conduct goal evaluation; Link career plans and development plans to goals and measure.
9.     Learning and Development:  Conduct formal and informal needs analyses of individuals, functions, and organizations; Identify targeted populations, content, supporting architecture, and knowledge transfer requirements; Establish curriculums, roadmaps, programs and evaluation methods/tools.
10.  Rewards:  Determine how to recognize and reward successful strategy performance; Institute Pay for Performance Programs.
11.  Talent Infrastructure:  Establish processes and systems to support the talent initiative.
12.  Business Metrics:  Create measurements and tools to demonstrate successful implementation of each component of the Talent Management Strategy.

Remember:  As HR professionals, our roles are critical to the success of the Talent Management Strategy.  We must use a behavioral science approach to gain buy-in, identify senior leader challenges, analyze the current trends and future needs to determine gaps, provide feedback and gain agreement and co-create action plans.  By working in partnership with our business leaders, we can implement the solutions and help the organization realize its full potential.