Talent Management – Is That What You Do?

In his groundbreaking book, Intellectual Capital, author Thomas Stewart writes “The management of talent, your human capital is part of an uncertain and complex endeavor that must deal with technology and competitors that won’t stand still, must formulate strategy and place multi-million dollar bets on the basis of highly imperfect information, and that adds to the mix the most intangible and least describable asset of all, plain old good business judgment.”

And we thought your job was easy! And maybe your boss did as well. Managing talent may be the most important and yet underappreciated job in any company. Rarely does a Talent Manager, HR leader or what ever title you use, have a seat at the table; rarely are they consulted on business strategy or rewarded proportionally for the success of the company. And yet most CEOs would say that “our people are our most important asset.”

The true leaders in Talent Management are all involved with establishing policy and implementing procedures for everything from sourcing, screening, selecting, on boarding, succession planning, retention, career advancement, training and when the occasion arises firing, downsizing and outplacement of the workforce. They are also directly involved in many cases in delivering the expected results of these processes, namely, top talent or A-Players.

So why the disconnect? Why is this critical role so underappreciated? The answers could be many depending on your point of view and your familiarity with the job requirement. Remember the old adage that in order to fully appreciate what a person does you need first to walk a mile or two in his/her shoes. Even if the shoes are bright red pumps in size eight and a half double D.

In my role as CEO of Q4B, I have had the pleasure of working with Talent Managers many of whom I would consider leaders in their field. I am also involved in growing and managing our company and managing our talent as well. I think this give me a unique perspective. My response to the question, why so underappreciated is that it is all about time, bandwidth and prioritizing.

If you are in a talent management position ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is your talent acquisition and retention process more reactive than proactive?
  2. Can your internal recruiting engine source and screen high quality candidates consistently?
  3. Is your internal process capable of reacting to a spike in hiring demand?
  4. Do your customers (hiring managers) work with you as an equal partner to help the company succeed?
  5. Do your bosses (C-level) consider what you do as strategic and critical to the company’s success and profitability?
  6. Are your processes aligned with the goals of the company?
  7. How much time do you and your recruiters spend on activity that is of low value to your customers (hiring managers and candidates)?
  8. Do you agree that “our people are our most important asset” or would you say that your talent pipeline is your most important asset?
  9. Do you wish you had more time to plan, analyze and improve your processes and deliverables?

Good talent management leaders, those who do have a seat at the table and who are appreciated by their company’s leadership team (C-level and board) have a keen understanding of their own capabilities, the capacity and bandwidth of their internal staff and are willing to bring in external resources in order to hire, promote and retain the best talent for their company. This willingness to utilize outside resources gives them the time they need to plan, analyze and improve those processes, thus making their contribution more valuable to the success of the company.

Good talent management leaders also have one other trait in common. It is that intangible and hard to describe asset that Stewart talks about, “plain old good business judgment.”

Do you have it?

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