Thought Leadership


Organisational excellence through creative, effective talent management - treat your people like the driving force they are

July 06 2015 By Progression

April 2015

In last month's opinion piece, Progression highlighted the importance of finding and placing the right talent through strategic and effective recruitment and placement strategies. Once this talent has been found, it now becomes imperative to manage and empower the individuals to reach their highest potential.

Julia Wood, Organisational Development Manager for Progression believes deeply in the importance of managing the talent a business has. "The business landscape holds unlimited people potential; exploring and tapping into this potential is a rewarding process for all parties involved" she says. Julia holds a degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology and understands that by using strategic HR (including recruitment and people management) processes, organisations can improve their business value and make it all the more possible to achieve their business goals.

Background of the Talent Management Landscape

The term Talent Management was coined by global management consulting company, McKinsey & Company, following a study done in 1997 where they drew attention to an imminent shortage of business leaders as companies faced a challenge in the demographic landscape by the looming retirement of baby boomers.

Later the concept was unpacked in more detail in the book 'The War for Talent' (Michaels et al.) which highlights that Talent Management is not so much a series of superior Human Resource processes, but rather a mindset that emphasises the importance of talent to the success of the organisation. Authors Kavanagh, Thite and Johnson expand on this idea in their book Human Resource Information Systems which describes Talent Management as a new perspective that unifies recruiting, hiring, training, promoting, and retaining talented individuals who can contribute to the overall growth and competitive advantage of a company, in other words a comprehensive programme of using and developing individuals' knowledge, skills and abilities.

"Forward-thinking organisations should know that people are the driving force of any business. By optimising the use of your people's talent, strengths and skills within their relevant roles; an effective and lasting impact will result for both the business and the individual." says Julia. She adds that organisations will gain a competitive edge by developing platforms that allow them to engage with their talent regularly. "Regular employee engagement and development, will allow organisations the option of career-pathing their talent so as to grow them in alignment with their potential. This kind of strategy then addresses the all too familiar recruitment crises that arises when the right kind of talent is needed to be found for senior roles. If you have implemented an effective talent management strategy correctly, you will have already developed and groomed a pool of great talent from which to select your best leaders." says Julia.

Knowledge Capital as a driving resource

In this, the knowledge and information era, organisations are being asked to acknowledge the extreme importance of their Intangible Capital - their people's skills, knowledge and capabilities. Melanie Sutton, Chief Knowledge Citizen of Intangible Capital Innovation (I-Innovate), an organisation which identifies and develops talent through knowledge management solutions, believes in the value of knowing what your workforce 'knows' and how you can leverage it for business success. "When I think of Talent Management, I think of the 4E's - Education, Experience, Expertise and Exposure. As intangible as this knowledge appears to be, it forms the foundation of successful human capital orchestration, and will contribute to a business's strategic success."

Julia explains that organisations often focus on attracting the right talent but forget to place emphasis on investing in the talent they already have. "Organisations can focus on concepts such as work-life balance, team building, skills development and individual personal growth plans in order to implement a tactical talent strategy." explains Julia. Another barrier that exists is that Talent Management is often not viewed as importantly as other functions in the business like finance or technology, and executives have limited knowledge of what it entails. "There is often a huge gap in understanding how to align an HR strategy with a holistic Talent Management strategy that are both aligned to the overall business strategy." says Julia.

Unpacking a Talent Management strategy

There are a number of 'pillars' to consider when unpacking a talent management strategy.

 Gap Analysis
Organisations need to understand their status quo in terms of their talent pool. A skills audit is a good step to understanding the existing capabilities of the organisation. Aligning what you have with what you want is the next step, in other words ensure that you clearly map out the organisational goals and how they impact every person within the organisation. When this is mapped out, the gaps in skills or people will be easily identifiable.

 Develop a high performance culture

Organisational values are the drivers and motivators behind employee success and participation in the workforce. Companies that bring their values to the work floor and don't only keep them contained to the boardroom have been proven to have better success in managing their overall employee-organisation culture fit. Remember, great working conditions motivate top talent.

 Find out what motivates your employees

Global economic trends are constantly putting pressure on organisations to meet their bottom line needs, and it is often thought that talent costs money. However, research from the aforementioned McKinsey & Company study suggests that incorporating non-financial reward systems into employee incentives is a reliable means of developing better and long-term employee engagement. Effective non-financial rewards can include attention from organisational leaders; praise and commendation from immediate managers; and the opportunity to lead projects and task forces. Implementing non-financial rewards will keep employees motivated and committed to the organisation's success.

 Succession Planning

Succession planning allows organisations to identify future necessary roles within the organisation and increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. An effective succession planning strategy considers a proactive approach to human resources within the business. It also ensures that an organisation's (tacit) knowledge is effectively transferred to successors.

 Harnessing the diverse workforce

A large element of the Talent Management arena within South Africa involves aligning supportive and inclusive policies around diversity. Managing talent effectively involves understanding the value harnessed when managing difference in the workplace, relating to gender, age, disability, and cultural differences.

Growing an Adaptable Workforce

"Companies that pay significant attention to Talent Management planning and implementation within the organisation are not only able to ensure sustainability of their business, but are better placed to achieve their bottom line needs." states Julia. In a world where change is given as a constant in any business, having a workforce that anticipates this change is vital. Talent Management not only nurtures the growth of business expertise and skills, but also creates an adaptable workforce which is capable of addressing current and future business needs.

Progression offers its clients specialised skills development and diversity solutions, which focus on identifying skills gaps within the business and aligning training interventions which make business sense. For more information please call 0860 754557 (SKILLS) or email


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