The Emerging Focus on Talent, Part III

The first post of the series discussed the emerging focus on talent, why top talent, and, more importantly, engaged talent, is important and why an average organization can’t find top talent. The second post discussed some of the insights on the talent topic that were put forth by Cummins, Disney, and Pitney Bowes at the recent Best Practices Conference put on by the Hackett Group. This post will cover some additional insights from HP and the Hackett Group and the final post of the series will outline some key first steps to help an organization start on its talent management journey.

When HP realized it needed to undergo a Finance transformation to become a world-class financial organization, it also realized that a critical component of migration would be its people and that a highly engaged, globally deployed workforce would be a critical success factor. It instituted a people development culture that focussed on reaching out with the current team (through an ambassador program), hiring the best (through a unified on-boarding process), developing its talent (through a centralized people development portal), mentoring its talent (through a high potential program), and effectively managing its talent (across groups within finance and the company as a whole). This helped it to create centers of excellence for high-value work delivery.

The Hackett Group, both in their presentations and in my private conversations, emphasized not only the critical nature of top talent in the Procurement / Supply Management organization, but the importance of understanding the nature of the talent market. What many companies don’t realize is that talent is a market, like IT, but unlike IT, where you have new vendors with new technology popping up every day, in Procurement, you don’t have newly trained professionals entering the talent pool every day because the vast majority of colleges and universities do not produce talent with the education and expertise necessary to succeed in today’s next generation supply management organization. This means that the organization has to have a game plan to recruit and retain raw talent that can be taught the skills, and a methodology program in place to teach the talent the skills, which should include (virtual) “classroom”, on-the-job, peer-group, and mentorship components to get the talent up to speed. It also means that it has to market Procurement as an attractive career opportunity and have a corporate succession path that allows supply management personnel to move out and about in the company. If business grads still think, like the older generation, that Supply Management is where you go to retire, it will be very hard to recruit raw talent with a high EQ.

So how does an organization begin a talent management journey? That’s the subject of tomorrow’s post.