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The secret to talent management planning

The secret to talent management planning

Talent management is the continuous process of identifying and delivering the talent an organisation needs to meet its objectives. The importance of talent management has been widely recognised for its ability to motivate your high performing and high potential staff. When done well, it allows you to maximise the value of your employees to improve your organisation’s overall competitiveness and performance.

But this can only be achieved with effective talent management planning. Planning ensures your talent management actions deliver the skills your organisation needs. It helps you to understand the exact expertise and abilities required for future success so that you attract, engage, develop and retain the right people.

Firstly though, what is a talent management plan? You can think of it as an investment in your organisation’s future. It is a strategy that maps out the specific talent required to meet your organisation’s goals, allowing you to then align all your talent management activities to achieve these needs.

Here are seven key factors to keep in mind when you next sit down to consider your talent management plan.

1. Link to business strategy

There’s an old adage that you cannot run before you can walk. The same principle can be applied to talent management; you cannot create an effective talent management strategy without first understanding the business’s strategy.

That’s because talent management is more than recruitment; it’s about unifying the talent strategy to an organisation’s objectives. By focusing first on business operations and the organisation’s strategic goals, you can accurately and very naturally prepare for the future and deliver the necessary skills as and when required for the maximum benefit.

Your first priority, therefore, should be to understand your organisation’s objectives and the talent required to successfully deliver them. This should be the foundation of your planning, but is often the missing secret ingredient of talent management for organisations that do not take a strategic approach.

2. Consider outside factors

As well as linking your strategy to the organisation’s objectives, effective talent management responds to outside factors that could impact the business and the skills it requires. For instance, what will be the impact of skill shortages or rapid technological advances? What economic challenges are ahead? Are new competitors entering your market? Is your industry facing disruption?

3. Collect and analyse data

Given the number of factors today’s HR professionals need to take into consideration, it’s understandable that many look for further insights from data to support their decisions. Accurately forecasting workforce requirements, future skill gaps and even predicting resignations barely scratch the surface of the answers data can provide.

However, the adoption of these tools is far from universal, with many employers not yet using data and analytics to organise, operate and manage talent.

Perhaps this is due to the challenges employers say they face when using data and analytics in talent management. These most commonly include questions over how to ensure the data collected is meaningful and will help them make informed talent decisions, upskilling the HR team to use data effectively and data security.

However, the reality is that organisations already have a vast amount of data at their disposal that could improve their talent management planning. Provided you ask the right talent management questions, such data can provide you with relevant and helpful answers to inform your planning process.

4. Identify skill needs

Once you have this overview of the big picture, you understand what you are planning for and should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What skills are needed by when?
  • Are these skills currently available in our workforce?
  • If not, can employees be upskilled or promoted to fill skill gaps?
  • If so, how can suitable employees be identified?
  • What skills will need to be recruited externally?
  • Do we require permanent or short-term temporary/contract resources?
  • Answering these questions allows you to take stock of your current talent pipeline, which will help you plan your efforts appropriately for maximum benefit.

5. Create talent management goals

You now have access to the information you require to create your own talent management goals. These goals will ensure you deliver the talent required to meet the organisation’s objectives.

Once you’ve identified these goals, break them down into clearly articulated, actionable and measurable tasks so you can build the right workforce and have it in place at the right time.

These tasks could cover:

  • Attracting and recruiting new skills
  • Onboarding
  • Staff engagement
  • Succession planning
  • Upskilling
  • Training and development
  • Performance feedback
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Retaining high-performing staff

As part of this process, you may encounter common talent management challenges. To address these, we’ve put together this report that answers the recurring talent management questions we’re asked by employers.

6. Consider what motivates employees – and link to your talent goals

We’ve focused so far on the importance of linking talent management to an organisation’s objectives and the wider world of work in which we all operate. Now let’s look at what it is candidates want since this too is a talent management factor you need to consider.

Every year in our Hays Salary Guide, we ask jobseekers what drives them into the market in search of another job. Year after year, more challenging or exciting work and a lack of career development are key factors motivating skilled professionals to look elsewhere.

This presents an opportunity for employers to link their employees’ career development and the provision of new, exciting and challenging tasks with the organisation’s overall goals.

Yet when we talk to employers, they often say they do not align the career development of their staff with the current and future skills their organisation will need to achieve its goals. This is a missed opportunity since employees want to be involved in work and projects that challenge them and develop their skills. This should therefore be factored into your talent management strategy.

In addition, a commitment to talent management can also aid your attraction efforts. With skilled professionals entering the jobs market in search of career development and more exciting work, the ability to show candidates that you are committed to the development of your staff can differentiate you from competitors and help you attract top talent.

7. Track progress

As you work towards achieving your goals, it’s important to measure your progress, results and effectiveness. Highlight successes and change tact if necessary to ensure you achieve your end goals.

From employee engagement surveys to performance management and the rate of successful hires, there are various metrics you can consider. Make sure you select and measure the most appropriate ones, which you link to organisational objectives and can evaluate with qualitative evidence.

We hope these tips help you plan your talent management strategy, so you can effectively attract, manage, develop and retain the high potential employees required to lead your organisation towards continued success.

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