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Talent management: Becoming a talent-first organisation

WLA9109 Aug 23 Aug Becoming a talent first organisation Content opt1

Ok, it’s 2023. Running a company isn’t just about hiring a few people to do a few jobs. More and more companies are realising the importance of talent – so much so that they’re rethinking their priorities.

In fact, the most successful companies aren't just putting talent under the spotlight – they’re putting it first.

So how do you become a talent-first organisation?

Well, by putting in place a talent management strategy, of course.

But hold on, what’s talent management? And how is it different from regular hiring?

Basically, talent management is the opposite of just hiring employees when you need to. It's having an ongoing strategy, not only for your recruitment but for your employees’ development, rewards, performance and experience.

That’s right – the whole shebang.

In other words, it’s not leaving things to chance or hiring as a knee-jerk reaction to business growth or employee attrition but making talent something you’re proactively in control of.

Oh, and it means putting your people above everything else in your business – even your clients.

Sound scary? Well, if you take a look at what talent management does for your organisation, it makes more sense than you think. I could get all boring here and go into the data, but trust me when I say that talent-first organisations win – big time. They have fewer hiring costs, more profit, greater productivity and higher retention rates.

And there’s nothing scary about that.

So what does talent management look like in practice? Well, it’s mostly about:

  • finding and hiring the right people
  • helping them grow
  • managing (and rewarding) their performance
  • making their experience personal, and
  • planning your workforce

Just a bit to be getting on with then. But seriously, don’t worry – we just need to look at each one in turn.

Find and hire the right people

Sounds obvious, right? But it’s simple: if you don’t have a strategy for your recruitment then you’re not putting talent first. Knee-jerk hiring, reactive rather than proactive recruiting and misunderstandings about where the value is in your workforce are all symptoms of being out of touch with who you need and when.

TOP TIP: Focus your efforts on the 5% of roles that deliver 95% of the value for your business. Yep, that’s right – I’m willing to bet that a small number of your hires are making the biggest impact. You just need to figure out who they are, how to keep them engaged and how and when you’ll need to replace them.

Help your employees learn and grow

Aside from a toxic manager (and that’s a whole other blog), one of the main reasons for leaving a role is that an employee sees no opportunities for progression. If you’re not highlighting these opportunities and making them available to your employees pretty damn quick then – you guessed it – you’re not managing your talent.

Remember: hiring new workers can be twice as expensive as upskilling or reskilling existing employees. So help your employees get learning.

TOP TIP: While good learning programs are a must, a central ‘skills hub’ won’t be worth much if you don’t start with a deep understanding of the skills your company needs to thrive. So do your research first.

Manage (and reward) performance

A big part of talent management is setting your team up for success, and rewarding them handsomely for what they do. In practice this means giving your teams crystal-clear expectations for their roles – think of it a bit like a GPS for success – and committing to continuous feedback. Regular chats about what’s working and what needs some love will nurture a culture of growth.

TOP TIP: Tailor rewards to what your people love. Whether that’s gym memberships, promotions or cool projects, make your high-five personal.

Give each employee the VIP treatment

Which brings us on to… making every team member feel like a superstar. Whether that’s offering flexibility, learning opportunities, mental health support or workplace belonging, what you’re basically saying is, “you matter”.

TOP TIP: Internal and external perception surveys will give you the data you need to understand what your current and future employees really care about.

Plan for the future – both short and long term

Finally, to truly manage your talent you need to think one step ahead. Hell, make that two steps. Because it’s no good making sure your team’s on point if you’ve got no strategy for the next 5-10 years.

Who will you need to service your organisation's growth goals? What’s your succession plan for replacing employees who are likely to retire? How will you plug those skills shortages? Knowing this stuff is talent management bread and butter.

TOP TIP: Make friends with schools, colleges and higher education institutions to tap into your future talent. Your employer brand starts locally – and it starts young.

Talent management isn’t rocket science. But it is rocket fuel for your organisation. It will put your talent first in an age where good employees are not easy to replace and recruitment is a huge resource drain. If you’ve got a strategy for everything else in your business, you’re missing a trick if you don’t have one for your people.

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