Talent, Performance, Training and Development
Getting the right people into the right positions is a central focus of human resource management as it stimulates and facilitate long-term organisational success. Talent management strategies are presented and shown to be integrated with a wide range of business processes needed to create a talent mind-set (Ashton & Morton, 2005). An organisations success is dependent upon their ability to transform a vision for its people into reality through talent management strategies. If firms want to remain competitive then they need to be able to attract, develop and retain good staff (McCauley & Wakefield, 2006).
Interpretations of talent management vary and it is inter-linked with succession planning and human resource planning. In essence, it is about ensuring that the right person is in the right job at the right time and being able to manage the supply, demand and flow of talent. Talent management is therefore about identifying, attracting, engaging, deploying and retaining those considered to be of particular value to an organisation. In managing talent strategically, organisations can build a high performance workplace, develop a learning organisation, add brand value and support diversity management.
Talent can manifest itself within a business through high performance (individuals or groups consistently demonstrating high ability/strength across a range of situations over a sustained period) and high potential (individuals or groups showing potential that exceeds expectations).
The strategic management of talent is fundamental if people are to effectively contribute to strategic goals and outcomes. The emergence of strategic human resource management reflects the contention that human capital is important and that organisations must consider how best to invest in people to meet anticipated future human resources needs that meet the demands of increasingly dynamic and competitive operating environments. This reinforces the need to consider talent from individual, social and organisational/institutional perspectives. It is wider than the basic concept of employability and also introduces the concept of the market value of staff.
Essentially, individual goals need to be aligned to the corporate strategy of a business. To achieve such alignment the values and vision of the organisation must be effectively embedded and communicated across the organisation to ensure that employees are able to work together to execute the strategy required. A strategic approach allows an organisation to be pro-active and forward looking in addressing its talent requirements, considering industry/organisational characteristics, the time needed for recruitment and development, and changes in future labour requirements. A more strategic approach supports the effective appraisal of existing talent capabilities and the evolution of plans to make sure that current competency gaps are closed, whilst also recruiting to meet future requirements.
The talent matrix (diagram 1) provides a useful illustration of some key concepts:
Outputs and Results
TALENTS MAY LIE ELSEWHERE
FUTURE TALENT OR POSSIBLE TALENT
Input and Capability
In Diagram1, capability is used to conduct an appreciation of competences and the need for employees to possess a range of skills. The matrix build a link between organisational outputs and talent requirements, the potential sources of talent and the actions that must be taken to build individual and organisational potential. Ultimately, the more an organisation invests in its existing staff, the greater the opportunity to meet future top talent requirements from internal resources. For example, Tesco has invested £3M in the creation of a leadership academy in an effort to protect its competitive position through a more balanced and sustainable talent development approach (Churchard, 2009).
Demographic trends are creating a talent shortage and companies therefore need to focus on how to develop internal talent. Such trends also increase job/role mobility as employees with attractive skills set have the potential to change their employer. Those organisations committed to the training and development of their existing staff are far more likely to retain the internal talent they need to remain competitive. Many companies have learning campuses within the organisation which they use to incorporate the latest learning and the transfer of tacit knowledge across the business.
Whilst training is important, there is also a need to develop a culture of talent recognition and appreciation throughout the organisation. Promoting from within is increasingly viewed as a sustainable approach to training and development as it is possible to retain talent within the organisation by providing such opportunities. Such policies foster commitment and encourages staff to highlight the talents they can bring to the business. However, an exclusive reliance on internal recruitment may not necessarily introduce the new skills and competences needed by the business.
Training and skill development requires a culture of learning underpinned by established learning objectives which are reflected in the organisational vision. It is also important to appreciate that people have different approaches to learning and development and that sometimes less-tangible inter-personal skills are vital (e.g. for roles such as customer service). Individual and organisational learning achievements should also be recognised and celebrated.
Those firms focussing on training and development are often linked to higher levels of organisational innovation and employee commitment (Sung & Choi, 2014; Dhar, 2015). Improved knowledge transfer between employees is the key outcome of effective training and development programmes and it has been argued that applied training (i.e. workplace/experiential based) supported by mentorship are important mechanisms for the capture of tacit knowledge.
Clearly, any training and development programme build skills in those areas where weaknesses exists. Within today’s dynamic workplace, a focus on continuous learning and the development of independent thinking skills can deliver a distinct competitive advantage. Focussed, training and development interventions deliver distinct benefits:
- Individuals develop confidence, capability and a willingness to learn (supporting organisational growth);
- Teams are able to leverage collective/shared knowledge through improved communication and a willingness to accept/respect diverse contributions;
- Organisations become more agile and effective through improved knowledge sharing/transfer and an enduring focus on skills development.
To develop an essential skills capability, a company must first capture the gaps that exist, identifying the role specific skills needed for effective employee performance. These profiles can then be compared to the actual skills and competences of each individual to create the training and development interventions required. Such interventions should also focus on future growth and role requirements, reflecting the need to build a culture that supports the identification and advancement of internal talent. Such a culture supports the corporate agility needed to maintain competitive positioning within an increasingly dynamic operating environment. Mechanisms such as performance appraisals and associated performance and development agreements can be used to maintain the essential linkage between organisational and personal objectives.
A strategic approach to performance management facilitates managerial and behavioural approaches that stimulates success (De Waal, 2013). Linking it to employee effectiveness to corporate goals and objectives through performance management ensures that each individual contributes to the success of the organisation. Organisational direction is set through the systematic definition of mission, strategy, and objectives, making these measurable through critical success factors and performance indicators. This allows suitable interventions to take place across the organisation, such as translating organisational objectives into more personal targets.
Performance management processes must therefore reflect the overall strategic context and associated aims of the business, reinforcing the need to link strategic, mission, vision, corporate objectives and individual goals. Training and development budgets that address corporate skills/competency gaps and which support associated individual staff development should be protected, although there should be measurable business benefits resulting from the interventions made. Articulating clear SMART objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bounded) provides a suitable mechanism to support personal and organisational training and development activities.
Research suggests that the most effective goals are those which strike the right balance between being achievable and ambitious. Too simple and an individual or team might not be focused enough to achieve the goal. Too hard and this may make individuals feel that the goals are not realistic or achievable and so may not try. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the goals set reflect an accurate understanding of individual skills requirements as well as their capacity and desire to learn.
Performance monitoring and employee control in a true talent management environment requires a balance between keeping the organisation on track to deliver clear objectives without limiting the scope for creativity and innovation within the business. As such, it is essential to ensure that the approaches taken reflect the cultural dynamics of both the organisation concerned and the wider operating environment (to ensure that the company remains able to retain essential talent). The ability to achieve this balance can be supported by effective informal communications and feedback mechanisms which continually confirm and reinforce the organisations commitment to continuous learning and development.
The development of a talent management culture within the modern dynamic organisation requires commitment, a focus on continuous learning and a long-term view as to what skills, competences and people are required to sustain the organisation. Talent identification mechanisms are needed, which requires a culture that openly demonstrates and celebrates the value of people as a corporate asset. Many entities develop strategic workforce planning models which provide the holistic overview needed and which helps to ensure that future talent requirements are not subsumed by immediate operational priorities. Such approaches require an analytical approach supported by data (such as emerging customer requirements and capacity planning tools) as well as effective stakeholder engagement to support the capture and transfer of vital corporate knowledge. The culture must therefore also be flexible enough to recognise the changing nature of the employee value proposition as perceived by staff and adjust accordingly. A failure to do so will mean that competitors quickly become viewed as more attractive employment opportunities.
This chapter has introduced the concept of talent management, providing a working definition and highlighting the importance of recruitment, selection and skills development approaches. The need to create a unifying performance management structure is emphasised, along with the need to take a more strategic, long-term focus if the challenges presented by the more dynamic modern business environment are to be effectively addressed. Sustainable employee development programmes require career development approaches and a corporate culture that views employees as being a critical component of any approach to sustaining corporate competitive positioning and capability.
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