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  • Writer's pictureMark Hordes

Talent Management Comes of Age

Mark Hordes


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For the many years, I’ve been on the forefront of the culture of talent management for projects utilizing a resources pool of experienced subject matter experts. These experts have varied backgrounds in continuous process manufacturing, plant asset utilization, maintenance, technology application, supply chain, change management, safety, human resources, and knowledge management in petrochemical, refining, pulp and paper and other specialty manufacturing and service-centric organizations.

Below are some of the lessons learned I have experienced in the trenches of talent management.

A few ideas for you to consider:

1. The personnel department is a thing of the past, or is it?

In the 90s and 200’s most companies still had a personnel department. This function handled recruiting, hiring, firing, payroll, benefits, job orientations and other functions. It was the place to call when I didn’t feel like coming to work!

Yet today these responsibilities have been carved out and segmented across and throughout the enterprise. People in this role may now be called talent leader, chief people officer, sourcing catalyst, life balance coordinator, human capital manager, people social media resources lead, and of course, resources manager.

Perhaps we have diluted the personnel function from its original definition and it has lost a great deal of discipline for the fundamentals of talent management by becoming somewhat automated. You’re probably saying, “But Mark, too many people send in resumes. We need to use recruiting automation systems.”

All true, but how well do you know your new recruits with this system and how do you match the best resource with the client requirements and needs? It makes a difference to do a few things in this process that are personal to bring the “personal” back into personnel department!

2. Talent management: More than a trend

Talent management can become a multi-faceted job, depending on how broadly you want to define it. You face an added element when you deal with both full-time employees and part-time contractors. A comprehensive program can include recruiting, on-boarding new hires and contractors, training, performance management and tracking (especially important with part time contractors), competency skills inventories, workforce scheduling and resource planning, succession planning, compensation, benefits, and in some cases union relations and job profiling.

The concept of having an integrated talent management process makes sense and should be managed as such. View this as similar to process management (as in a manufacturing setting) and process-centric organizations. To meet the challenge of today’s competitive business climate, it helps organizations to have a talent management process that is reviewed yearly and revitalized as market conditions change.

3. Knowledge management, a critical element of your talent management program.

Many of organizations are building cross-functional, best practice project teams to meet the challenge of streamlining HR processes, compliance and regulations, and standardizing performance management systems. This is being implemented through the establishment of Human Resources “centers of excellence” that maintain oversight, serve as advocates for change and monitor standardization and knowledge sharing and quality.

This concept has been extended to Joint Venture partners and suppliers as well. Strategic planning meetings support these activities to realize the HR vision and enhance communications with the business. They also help in standardizing HR roles and ignite teamwork.

Knowledge management directly involves the cross-functional, best practice project teams and is rapidly becoming the key driver that supports talent management programs. Tap into this new model for capturing critical information of your most talented employees (some of which may be leaving soon).

4. Consider company culture in recruiting

“I was just shocked that he didn’t work out at the company! He/she had a great resume, a masters in a specialized field and polite in the in the interview. So what happened?”

While behavior-based interviewing strives to avoid this outcome, sometimes people are just darn good actors and can fool anyone. There are no easy answers here, other than perhaps involving as many people as possible in the interview process to get varying points of view. Engaging others can support finding a perfect fit for your company and steer clear the agony of managing a misfit.

5. Compliments and making people feel confident

The next time your employees or co-workers perform in a special way or makes a value-add suggestion, send them a handwritten note thanking and congratulating them. It sure would make me feel proud to receive such a personal note.

Are you seeking answers for your company’s human resources challenges? Does your talent management strategy align with your business strategy? Would you benefit from having your HR community become a stronger team?

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