Challenges continue to mount for today’s organisations and its human resource (HR) practitioners whenever the issue of talent is discussed.

Time is spent looking at attrition percentages, expansionary needs, attracting the next wave of talents, engagement initiatives with the existing pool of talent and the expanding list of incentives and perks to achieve retention needs. 

Survey results found that while 85 per cent of leaders in organisations recognise nurturing talent to be important, only 20 per cent have actually allocated resources for talent development.

Many organisations continue to pay lip service to the importance of “people” to their successes. It is alarming that that the HR function in many organisations still remains a “cost centre”.

Having the right team of talented individuals in place is not only crucial to the profitability and survival of organisations but will also enable them to navigate and thrive in today’s highly volatile global environment. 

The right talent pool is undoubtedly an indispensable enabler for organisations to transform from being “good” to “great”. Therefore, a sound talent management strategy is crucial for all organisations.

Bridging the gaps

Some talent management programmes merely focus on filling capability needs and exclude plans for the next wave of leadership.

If this trend continues, divisions within the organisation may end up “fire-fighting” regularly. The organisation needs to align its talent management strategy with succession planning, its vision of suitable talents for the roles and the roadmap to identifying these talents.

Developing a talent management strategy will also require organisations to evaluate if the current pool of talent is sufficient to drive the organisation forward and upward.

The primary challenge is, of course, identifying and nurturing future leaders. Many organisations have attempted to do that with mixed results. Cutting corners in this exercise will continuously rescind them to “start”.

Throughout my interaction with many organisations’ leaders and human resource practitioners, they have often mentioned that the right competencies for talents and future leaders have been identified and the candidates have been selected. This is followed by, “What’s next?”  

The follow-through in talent development is a regularly missed-out step. Be ready to spend time and effort bridging the gaps and ensure talents are better equipped to deal with the future.

Aligning talents to company vision

Picture this situation: The right talents are selected, and the management is satisfied with the competency evaluations of these candidates and have provided their full support.

The new talents themselves consider the organisation to be a good fit. Future leaders seem to understand the challenges ahead and are eager to lend their expertise to help steer the organisation in the right direction. 

Six months down the road, they are struggling or, worse, have resigned. Often, the feedback reveals “…the job was not what I expected it to be”, “…did not fit in well with the team” or even “…there were strategic differences”.

These issues are real and often surface due to a mismatch of the employees’ values and goals and the organisation’s vision or strategy. On a smaller scale, differences could result from a mismatch in management approaches.

The right stuff

Remuneration and growth opportunities can only entice an employee so far. His alignment to the organisation’s aspirations and culture has the ability to retain him far beyond dollars and titles.

Some talents remain with the same organisation after 20 years, and then decide to return on a contractual basis upon retirement. When I spoke to these employees, they say: “It felt comfortable, and was the natural course of action.”

A survey conducted by a global leader in advisory services found that organisations with the right talent and strategies posted a 20 per cent higher return on equity on average, when compared with those that provided insufficient attention to and investment in talent.

Market leaders must not only plan and forecast operational and budgetary needs, but also talent and competency requirements to meet future business strategies.