Talent Management Winds of Change

Robin Wooddall-Klein
Robin Wooddall-Klein,
Senior Vice President,
Root Inc.

The topic of Talent Management is a broad, but extremely critical one that can mean a lot of different things to different people. It encompasses attracting, selecting, engaging, developing, and retaining an organization’s most important assets – its people. Tired yet? Well, that’s just the beginning. Every experience an employee has at work is part of talent management … each team meeting, one-on-one, town hall, or off-site can be a vehicle for leaders and managers to help their people grow, learn something new about each other’s goals and connect more deeply with the business. It might seem never ending, but your hard work will pay off. Do it right, and the effect of talent management on successfully executing strategy cannot be underestimated.

Even with the huge array of functions falling under the ever-expansive Talent Management umbrella, I’ve seen a few themes bubbling to the top. If you want to up your organization’s game and successfully navigate the current talent winds, consider focusing on the following in 2015 and beyond.

1) Talent acquisition is a leadership differentiator and leadership expectation – it’s not just the job of HR anymore.
Successful organizations are utilizing their leaders to help win the talent acquisition challenge. Today’s economy is a candidate’s market vs. an organizational market. Top talent is in demand everywhere and organizations are competing for high-caliber employees in ways they haven’t had to in the past. Wooing candidates is critical and leaders who take a role in the process are improving the odds and speed at which jobs are filled with the right people. So, this is a shout out to all you leaders out there – you can play an important and impactful role as a liaison or talent chaperone in partnership with candidates and HR. Are you ready?

Discuss with your team

2) Capability building is closer than ever to business strategy and therefore more and more unique to each organization.
In the “old world,” training and development functions looked pretty similar from organization to organization. In today’s world, upping the game of existing talent to be more competitive, with the skills and capabilities needed to execute the organization’s specific strategy, is morphing what training and development looks like. Most organizations now need to build new skills specific to the strategy they have in place to win in the marketplace. Successful organizations are supplementing their internal efforts with external partners and even rotating business leaders into key training and development roles. To truly stay competitive in today’s fluid, fast-paced business world, training and development can be a powerful differentiator for your business. Is that how your leaders view your training programs?

Discuss with your team

3) Managers are becoming the clear owners of engagement, but most are ill-equipped for the job.
This talent wind is not new, but when are we all going to wake up and really do something about it? We’ve all seen the studies on the importance of managers in employee engagement and employee retention. However, even in the face of compelling data, most organizations are still falling short of empowering their managers with the skills and knowledge to successfully deliver as “owners of engagement.” Here at Root, where engagement is high and the employee promise for it is even higher, I still sometimes struggle to remember the support that our managers need. Working hard to acquire great individual contributor talent can be for naught if these candidates are led by managers who aren’t ready to be leaders of engagement. It’s simply an equation that doesn’t add up to success. Navigating this talent wind requires all of us to come to terms with the role of managers in engaging and developing talent, and make the necessary investments. The successful execution of strategies depends on it.

Discuss with your team

4) Millennials are starting to drive the perceptions on who is a good employer – often deeming traditional corporate approaches as “old school.”
Here’s the reality – boomers and Xers may be in the C-Suite, but they’re not the only influencers at play. Understanding what resonates with the incoming workforce – our millennials – is critical to success. We need to connect to what they care about and how they see the world (and your organization). I believe that most of us “get it” from an intellectual perspective, but many leaders (myself included) are still operating with a boomer or Xer mindset and are surprised with the millennial reaction.  We have to spend time consciously learning about, reaching out to and connecting with this generation, knowing that engaging our millennials requires a fairly dramatic change in most large organizations. It’s time to really get curious about the methods, priorities, and engagement approaches that resonate with millennials. The organizations that do this will ride this talent wind rather than be set back by it.

Discuss with your team

5) Talent management and social responsibility leaders can benefit from syncing up.
The world is getting smaller every day and employees of all generations are looking for organizations to step up and make things better. Company reputation is increasingly becoming a differentiator in the employee value proposition and an organization’s social responsibility efforts provide a meaningful way for employees to connect to or feel connected to the efforts of their organization. When the talent agenda connects with the social responsibility agenda, powerful things for good can happen. Leaders in HR and social responsibility:this is a “to do” for you – get your teams together! Make it a priority for your organization, and your culture and community will reap the benefits.

Discuss with your team

What additional winds of change are you experiencing in the Talent Landscape? Drop me a note at rwk@rootinc.com, as I’d love to hear feedback and learnings from your own experiences. You might just find your thoughts and opinions included in our next issue (with your permission of course). Talent management is simply way too important to be put on the sidelines, so let’s keep the conversation going!