2008 Trend 1: Talent Management

The extent to which a company can respond to external opportunities and threats is being determined more than ever by the talent of its employees ; the knowledge and abilities of the workforce and the manner in which the organization is able to turn these assets into value are all determining factors. If talent is managed adequately and the interests of the employee and the organization tuned in to one another, this will be to the advantage of both parties. The employee will be competent, and the company will offer him or her sufficient opportunity to develop.

The talent lifecycle initially focuses on listing the required abilities, then on strategic workforce planning. Workforce planning allows one to find a suitable relationship between the company strategy and the abilities of (future) employees: is the strategy achievable with the current set of skills? In the service economy, knowledge is becoming extremely important: if the company does not possess the right knowledge and abilities, the company strategy cannot be executed, and this will affect the future of the enterprise. Knowledge can then be seen as a part of the ‘company capital’, in the same way that a machine is. Through planning HR can foresee any excesses and/or shortcomings of abilities and act upon this before it is too late.

As knowledge exists in the mind of the employee, company capital is a lot more volatile than in the past, and the company will have to put more effort into holding on to its employees. The way we look at employees is changing: where organizations are used to thinking in terms groups of employees, companies are now differentiating based on rare abilities: some employees are simply crucial to the company. HR will have to ensure that this differentiation is emphasized in appraisal and reward schemes, so that crucial employees feel recognized and valued and other employees do not feel ignored. HR also has to support the business by ensuring that adequate knowledge-sharing methods, training and development opportunities are in place, so that a sufficient capacity (in terms of abilities) is available.

Differentiation is also required to ensure that career plans are carried out. A manager relies on a stable team, and will not be inclined to allow a well-performing employee to move into another part of the company: this would be at the cost of his own results. This is not in the interest of the larger whole, though. For the company it is preferable that HR identifies new talent, stimulates their development, and offers these employees challenging opportunities within the company. This is especially true when dealing with members of the new generations: they are used to think in projects, and without hesitation will switch to a different employer that offers them more challenging work, if they view their current work as uninteresting.