January has flown by and hopefully normality has returned to your routine, but it’s possible there is still one outstanding task you want to complete this month: planning! Even if your organisation’s financial year or planning cycle observes a different schedule, January is still a good time to take stock and ensure you are ready for the year ahead. Most of us are mentally primed to begin afresh in the New Year




Why is planning so important?


Like most business activities, success in planning for talent management can be attributed to that old adage: 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration. There are no short cuts and the task is not difficult but does require a methodical approach. We’re going ‘back to basics’ because it never hurts to revisit fundamental principles, especially if last year ended in a flurry of project close-outs, year-end assessments, and multiple demands on your time as a manager.


Who is responsible for talent management?

Unlike traditional HR activities, which are largely concerned with administration and compliance with various legislative acts and statutory processes, talent management is the responsibility of the entire organisation. So whether you are an HR manager, a line manager or a director, this article is for you.


What is talent management?

As long ago as 1997 – 20 years ago! – McKinsey defined talent management as “the anticipation of required human capital for an organisation and the planning to meet those needs”. But for a long time, talent management was seen as just a trendy term for HR, and this definition does sound a lot like classic HR capacity assessment and forecasting. It is only recently that organisations have begun to take talent management seriously. Some of the activities inherent in talent management include succession planning, assessment, development and high potential management. It’s easy to see why the process needs to engage an entire organisation to be successful.


Planning for success

So what sorts of tasks should be included in your talent management planning? You’re probably already doing most of them, but effective planning will help to ensure you achieve the desired outcomes. Here are some key activities that will contribute to effective talent management:


  • Review job descriptions and job families. Do this now, rather than in response to a resignation. Make sure your department’s or organisation’s talent strategy is in line with overall business strategy. If a vacancy arises, you will be in a strong position to identify a replacement, either internally or externally, with high potential to fill the gap now and continue to contribute in the future. You will also spot job descriptions that no longer reflect what an individual is doing. It may be that promotion is warranted, or a redefinition of department structure.
  • Review (or create) the performance development plan for the year. There may be an organisation schedule that you follow annually, but is the content of the review process still relevant? Does it reflect the current culture and needs of the business? Talent management means that assessment of future potential is as important as past performance. Does your performance management system allow for that?
  • Communicate part 1. Effective communication is NOT the preserve of the communications department alone. Planning for talent management includes planning internal communications so that all employees remain engaged and committed to the organisation’s objectives and ultimate business aims. The communications department is a valuable resource and facilitator but the messages must come from an aligned talent management strategy. Plan a series of messages for the year that demonstrate your dedication to developing and retaining your talent.
  • Communicate part 2. Open the lines of communication between functions and departments. The larger the organisation, the easier it is for silos to develop, and this can be counter-productive to good talent management. Even where employees have quite technical skills, career paths don’t have to be entirely linear. Plan for information about talented workers to be shared across the organisation. This can be either formal or informal – but if it’s not in the plan it probably won’t happen. This will bring multiple benefits: better staff retention as bored employees access new opportunities without leaving the company; financial savings in recruitment costs; retention and dissemination of institutional knowledge; employee satisfaction as potential is recognised and rewarded; and deployment of talent where it is needed, resulting in higher organisational performance.
  • Plan for ongoing coaching and mentoring. If you’ve already conducted a training needs assessment for the year ahead, well done! If not, this should be part of your plan. Does it assess potential and future needs to meet career development objectives as well as training needs for the current role? Is there an element of coaching and mentoring? This is often where the real talent development happens. Review your plan. Identify mentors. Ensure the plan includes an adequate feedback loop. Mentoring can be a good means of succession planning, which is another important component of talent management.
  • Remuneration – be creativeRemuneration is a critical component of talent management, do not neglect this.

EOH Human Capital Solutions. We’re here to help

As an experienced manager, we know you’re familiar with these basic talent management principles. But sometimes, when the pace gets hectic, it can be useful to go ‘back to basics’ and revisit core principles. If you’ve hit the ground running this year and are already swamped with daily tasks, we can help. We can advise on talent management, remuneration packages, skills inventories and other aspects of your human capital strategy. Contact us today on 012 940 6300 or hcs@eoh.co.za

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