Time to Rethink
Strategic Talent Management Secures the Future
Experience has shown us that small and middle-sized businesses, the backbone of the economy, hardly ever perform long-term strategic planning. That means that more than 80% of our economic scene is managing planlessly, is stressed by operative day-to-day business and reacts much too hectically to market fluctuations. In large companies merely 2.8% of working time of the management and owner representatives is invested in strategic planning. The awareness and know-how of how realistic scenarios can be developed from visions of the future, and thus how to align business decisions accordingly, seems to be low and simply underdeveloped.
Let’s start from an ideal case: a company – it doesn’t matter what size – possesses a profound strategic planning team. In this team owner representatives and management as well as some informal management persons are permanently represented about eight days a year and constantly work on the future vision of the company as well as the implementation of the latter in the form of action plans. It is clear that not only financing, technology, sales and product innovation are dealt with, but that especially HR management will be a central topic. The future strategy of this company will be broken down to the departmental level. This establishes already how every part of the organization must change in the coming years in order to stay attuned to the market dynamic. Every team knows in advance what will be required in the future, and can therefore align personnel planning accordingly.
When I read the militarist myths of the »War for Talent«, I have to yawn. Whatever about demographic change, this attitude assumes that 1. we either all slowly become zombies and only a very few »smarty-pants« are left or 2. the business challenges in our world will suddenly grow to unbelievable proportions. However neither of these will be the case.
In short: s/he who invests at least 4% of the working time of the top management level in strategy finding and thus learns to see the requirements of the future in advance also knows who is needed now, will be in two to three years time in a position to be still reaping success ahead of the competitors. We will have to get rid of the rather antiquated personnel approach of job titles and get used to thinking in terms of competencies for whole job families. The company strategy with vision and mission statement should contain all core competencies which will be required in the future. If the company management has already today strategically planned, for example, to enter the Turkish market in three years, it is a simple matter to think of training linguistically talented, interculturally flexible and assertive people within the company or recruiting young top performers on the job market.
In long term planning, substitution regulation and succession planning play a fundamental role. However most managers don’t see the point in exerting themselves to implement these minimal planning procedures. Then it is not to be wondered at when panic-laden chaos breaks out due to unforeseen personnel fluctuation!
CEOs must incite their management teams to act as »talent agents« and comb the company for top talents, as ultimately good talent management begins at the very top. Many companies do not need to exert themselves greatly: most talents are already to be found in the company – and are unrecognized. Of course it will always be necessary to seek high potentials on the free job market as well.
How can personnel management circumnavigate the skills shortage? There are many possibilities: on the one hand the requirements profile can be reduced. This is much too seldom considered. HR professionals sometimes persist in creating unrealisable job profiles. On the other hand increasing the attractiveness of working conditions (higher salary, flexi-time, benefits etc.) can still mobilize excellent job seekers in all markets, even in thinned out job groups. In addition, also here long-term planning is key to increasing success: don't just begin hectically searching when you are already under pressure, but rather spread your procedures throughout the year.
A fundamental misconception, which we are constantly encountering, is that personnel search as a tiresome problem situation, which should be solved as quickly and cheaply as possible. Precisely the opposite must be the case: strategic personnel management must be seen as a permanent challenge, so to speak the supreme discipline of management.
Seeking the key players of tomorrow on the basis of strategic planning today, correctly diagnosing these with analysis of potential, fostering their abilities through suitable training and coaching procedures, and creating conditions which make staying in the company an attractive prospect: four keys to a guaranteed company success story!
About the person:
Dr. Othmar Hill, founder and president of HILL International, has been a business psychologist and HR-strategist for over thirty years. He is a pioneer in the development of structured analysis of potential as well as a specialist in intercultural management, competence management and strategic planning, and in addition is the founder of the Institute for Humanistic Management.