A new white paper from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Designing Talent Management to Meet an Organization’s Strategic Needs, explores reasons for this oversight and identifies the business factors that support the creation of a formal talent management process. More importantly, the paper discusses how to achieve senior leader buy-in for talent management by proposing it in a business-relevant manner through a narrative.
Simply stated, talent management is an organization’s formal plan to optimize its talent pool—employee recruitment, retainment, development, and so forth—with a goal to create a culture that will meet the organization’s current and future business objectives. Traditionally, these talent management efforts were often focused exclusively on employees with strategic value to an organization, such as the C-suite and high-potential employees.
Author Chris Miller, program director for UNC Exective Development, explains that employers are starting to realize that they should broaden talent management to all organizational levels to develop a deeper talent pool. “Deeper talent pools can help widen an organization’s leadership ladder and can help channel talent into skill-specific jobs,” writes Miller.
This requires a formal talent management strategy and process. Indeed, a talent management process is part of strategic workforce planning—in that it helps anticipate the changes that may take place in their marketplaces and the types of employees they will need to manage those changes and meet strategic goals of the business. According to Miller, “organizations that have strategic workplace plans are generally more agile in assessing and meeting change than their peers, giving them a competitive advantage.”
To convince senior leaders about the value of a formal talent management process, the UNC white paper advises HR and talent management professionals to follow four basic steps.
#1: Create a Narrative. HR is in a unique position to capture business-relevant stories related to talent across multiple business units. “In telling the story, HR and talent management professionals should weave together the frustrations that keep the business from achieving its goals into an understandable story where talent management is the tie that binds,” says White.
#2: Create Absolution. It is important for HR and talent management professionals to not point the finger leaders about the lack of strategy or process, and instead offer a pardon for this misstep. According to White, “The lack of a formal talent management process is not a poor reflection on existing leaders. There may have been many piecemeal attempts at talent management in the past.”
#3: Identify Current and Future Business Needs. When identifying current and future needs, the paper advises leaders to ask the following questions—with talent management firmly in mind:
• Where has our organization been? Where is it now? Where do the answers to these questions mean for where we are going?
• What are the growth strategies and services that will drive our future growth?
• What competencies do we need to keep, develop, and/or acquire to meet this growth?
• How can we make our HR function more strategic, effective, and efficient to support these growth initiatives?
#4. Find Champions. As with any big change, there will be powerful and influential people who “get it.” These are the folks, says Miller, who “realize that they can’t achieve their goals without the right people in the right places.” It is the job of talent development leaders to find and educate those people about the talent management strategy and benefits moving forward. “Talent management should not be sold as an HR process, but rather a business practice facilitated by HR. HR can guide the process, but the knowledge of current talent and many of the future solutions will come from managers,” reminds White.
For more insight, check out Designing Talent Management to Meet an Organization’s Strategic Needs in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Resource Library