Talent Management Issues and Challenges

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In a wired world of easy, me-too replications, solid employeevalue proposition reinforced by ‘The Human Factor’ can provide the winning difference.

By Rajlakshmi Saikia
Are you aware of the decisive impact of talent on your organisation’s success? Have you devised a game plan to retain your competitive advantage? Did you know that despite fluctuating unemployment rates, the competition to source, hire and retain top notch candidates has remained consistent and fierce across most industries? Finally, while every other aspect of business is being easily replicated (products, services and infrastructure) isn’t it amazing to learn that talented people are the ONLY lasting competitive advantage?

McKinsey’s study, which has appeared in the McKinsey Quarterly (1998), focused on 77 large U.S. companies in various industries. The team’s focus was on the human resources department within each company and what their talent-building philosophies, practices, and challenges were. The team also surveyed nearly 400 corporate offices and 6,000 executives from the top ranks of these companies. In addition, the group conducted case studies of 20 companies that were perceived to have considerable talent. The study concluded that companies are about to be engaged in a war for senior executive talent that will remain a defining characteristic of their competitive landscape for decades to come. The report’s even more troubling conclusion was that “most companies are ill-prepared, and even the best are vulnerable.”

This new age economy, with its attendant paradigm shifts in relation to the human capital, in terms of its acquisition, utilisation, development and retention, has placed a heavy demand on today’s HR professionals. Today HR is expected to identify potential talent and also comprehend, conceptualise and implement relevant strategies to contribute effectively to achieve organisational objectives. Hence a serious concern of every HR manager in order to survive this ‘War for Talent’, is to fight against a limited and diminishing pool of qualified available candidates to replace valuable employees when they leave, dramatically underscoring the difficulty to attract, motivate and retain the best employees in an organisation. You will find out more as we reveal our findings from our interactions on the subject with the country’s top HR people from some of the best known and admired companies. To analyse the reasons, we first need to understand what “TALENT” means. People have different views and definitions. According to Leigh Branham, vice president, consulting service at Right Management Consultants and author of the book, “Keeping People Who Keep You in Business”, a talent is not rare and precious. Everyone has talent – too many to possibly name all. Talent is behavior; things we do more easily than the next person. We speak of “natural born talent” but those with a gift, knack, ability or flair for something can refine and develop that talent through experience. Talent, however, cannot be taught. As someone once said, “you can teach a turkey to climb a tree, but it is easier to hire a squirrel”.

Vice President, HR of Seagram, Mr. Gopi Nambiar, says talent can be best described as a combination of abilities and attitudes. The real trick is to match the right motivated talents to the right role, individually and collectively, harnessing and harmonizing this crucial attribute to achieve the objectives of your company.

Today, companies have become fiercely competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. According to Branham, 75 per cent of the senior executives admit that employee retention is a major concern today, the obvious reason being the ‘increasing rate of turnover’. This dynamically changing and volatile demand-supply equation with such erratic attrition trends and cut throat competition has led organisations to focus on mechanisms pertaining to attracting and retaining talent. It is an...
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