The future of work demands a significant shift in the allocation of time and resources – from recruitment to development. It’s time for a new paradigm for talent management, says Richard Cowley.
Indeed, talent management remains one of the most value-added and complex organisation processes. An English saying illustrates this well: ‘Nowt as queer as folk!’ – meaning, nothing as complicated as people.
Talent management is a mixture of art and science for me. You can talk to three or five people about an individual, and they will all have their personal perception of that individual. The workplace is full of perceptions, beliefs, emotions, personal experience, and opinions. This is what makes talent management challenging – unlike a scientific approach, which would be more systematic, with rules, procedure and a process to drive the desired outcome. The key organisational challenge is to ensure that investment in talent management drives the balance between business need, employee aspiration, and organisational perception.
Retention of key talent is a constant global challenge, and without a focus on retaining people by centering organisation time and budget resources on this key process, we will continue to be disappointed by the outcomes.
Talent management must happen at all career levels, not just management. It is the simple management of employees through a systematic process (science) while ensuring we capture the sensitivities of people and employee aspirations (art). Focused plans to develop required experience and capability, balanced with building organisational credibility through demonstrated contribution will ensure a positive outcome. However, to be effective, this will demand a higher level of planning, and inevitably increased focus of resources (time and budget) on talent development versus recruitment.
Development, not recruitment
What is the impact on delivering organisational performance when our leaders, management, and HR spend time on recruitment? The resource allocation on recruitment can generally be 30-60 per cent for a HR department – that represents either the actual time spent or the percentage of the HR budget dollars allocated to hiring new employees. However, given the absence of a HR person, the leader or line manager would be spending their time versus delivering their core accountabilities on a critical function they have no support to deliver.
The answer lies in what they are not doing. It is this paradigm shift – development, not recruitment- that is imperative if we are to see a meaningful change in the contribution and productivity of our HR teams, and more importantly, a more value added use of our leaders’ and managers’ time.
What would a 30-60 per cent shift of resource allocation from recruitment to development enable?
Core leader, manager or supervisor role: It may be argued that hiring new talent is a core role of leaders, managers or supervisors (whether people or process supervisor), and of course, that is true. However, ‘core’ in this context are the deliverables that drive the performance of the organisation, for example, any time detracted from driving sales, developing marketing plans, delivering operational or manufacturing goals. With a global norm of only forty hours a week, it is imperative that this time is maximised.
The discipline of organisation development: It is the most undervalued activity that all leaders, managers, and HR teams need to allocate more time to. The value of integrating this activity into an annual event with quarterly review and monthly pulsing can’t be understated. Developing the organisation’s capability is never finished – unless you want your business to decline.
The challenges are generally consistent: How to align individual development to organisation and individual needs, how to enable the desired development, how to allocate limited resources, and of course, how to manage delivery, evaluation, and impact. Continuing to drive this process without the answer to these key questions will often lead to a less than effective and wasteful process outcome for the organisation. A focus of resources on development versus recruitment, enabled by a simple attentive process, tools, templates, and support will drive the desired outcome – sustained delivery of organisational objectives.
A belief in employee engagement
Simply put, it is the quality of the relationship between an organisation and its employees, the outcome of which will have an impact on the contribution, and ultimately, performance of individuals as well as organisations. There are so many factors that drive employee engagement, ranging from pay to the more personal factors related to leadership style. Generational norms and cultural differences are raising the level of complexity to new levels. Therefore, the nature of the solution shifts from homogeneous to heterogeneous – one size definitely does not fit all.
This complexity demands that leaders, managers, supervisors, and HR teams invest significantly in managing organisation climate and take deliberate actions to drive the desired outcomes. While resources (time and budget) are devoted on recruitment, there will never be enough time to work on this.
In summary, we will never stop recruiting, it is the natural processes of helping organisations evolve: enabling new strategies, helping manage under-performing employees or driving growth strategies. However, the current resource allocation of time and money is disproportionate to the value relative to other processes.
Any organisation that reduces resources on recruitment and redirects them to these critical processes will substantially increase their chances of delivering their organisational objectives.
This article was first published in the online edition of Times Ascent.