Any company that competes on the global stage must, in light of today’s changing workforce, rethink the way it manages people.
Too many companies are wasting their resources — their people and their financial leverage — by perpetuating outdated approaches to talent management. They structure jobs rigidly, forcing many people to work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, workweek. They focus their training on functional skills, not on aligning employees’ capabilities with the strategic objectives of the business. For leadership development and career advancement, they rely on long-standing training courses that don’t reflect the contributions that people can make in today’s flat, flexible, and entrepreneurial organizations. And their compensation systems do not adequately link to performance or hold managers accountable for developing the talent of their staff and their direct reports. In short, the talent management in these companies is not arming them with the decisive, experienced, globally minded visionaries that they need at every level.
DeAnne Aguirre, Laird Post, and Sylvia Ann Hewlett in The Talent Innovation Imperative
This opening paragraph from the Autumn issue of Strategy + Business is, in a word, AWESOME! Creativity and Innovation doesn’t work on a 9 to 5 schedule, there are millions of people in India and China with the functional skills in demand in today’s knowledge economy, and you never get anywhere if all you do is stand in line. So why are you queueing your employees instead of helping them reach their full potential? And more importantly, why are you putting talent management innovation off? The midst of a global economic crisis only heightens the need for talent at the top of their game. Furthermore, the commitment of employees is most needed in a crunch, and it’s not likely to be there if they feel you don’t respect them (and think they’re lucky to have a job). And if you think you’re not losing their loyalty, think again. As quoted in the article, as per surveys conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy, between June 2007 and December 2008, the number of employees expressing loyalty to employers plunged from 95% to 39% while the number trusting their employees fell from 79% to 22%. Surveys in 2009 were even more dismal. Voluntary attrition has spiked by as much as 31% — among the people you need most to get you through these troubled times.
So what can you do? Embrace new employment structures, differentiate capabilities, accelerate performance, develop leadership, and foster a talent culture.
Embrace New Employment Structures
Allow for highly responsible part time work, telecommuting, contracting, and lots of flex time. Retain your aging workforce with their experience — who don’t want to work full time any more but don’t want to completely retire either, and use them to mentor your junior hires. Let people work from remote areas and maintain their community links. Let people work contract until both parties are comfortable and ready for a direct relationship. And let them work on their schedules as well as yours.
Understand the key capabilities, not functional skills, required for competitive advantage, determine the skill gaps in your current workforce, and develop talent strategies to close them. Then develop new and diverse attraction and retention values that include competitive compensation and benefits packages, innovative job designs, flexible schedules, career development opportunities, strong leadership, a distinctive culture, and a welcoming work environment. Furthermore, you should pursue a workforce that is global, diverse, and gender balanced, with discontinuous career progressions, in which high-potential employees may take time off or work for different types of organizations along the way.
Organizational success hinges on the collective daily decisions and actions of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individual employees. To ensure that the decisions are in tune with success, reinforce meritocratic pay and promotion decisions, follow through, and measure outcomes.
Leaders today must be able to master enormous complexity, but too few leaders have the right combination of skils and experience. Companies that want to improve their leadership development must evolve the leadership competencies model, promote and develop people who match the competencies (and who cultivate a team that performs well), and build the leadership bench, because one leader is no longer enough (and a bench will be needed to seat them all).
A talent culture is made up of the value, beliefs, behaviours, and environment required to attract, engage, and retain committed and competent employees. A great culture is not accidental, it is the result of engagement, proper organization, and a commitment to the “talent brand” and a visible “talent culture”. Engagement is key, as more than 100 studies have demonstrated the correlation between employee engagement and business performance. Right now, at most 1 in 4 employees is “engaged”. If you want to lead the pack in today’s economy, getting employees engaged is the surest way to do so.