Enterprise Talent Management: Simpler than it Seems


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Implementing enterprise talent management can seem like an overhaul of your whole HR department, but it's actually simpler than it may seem.

Article 6 Minutes
Enterprise Talent Management: Simpler than it Seem

Making the move towards enterprise talent management can seem like a massive step away from the processes you are used to, but it's actually simpler than you think. Instead of looking at each department or business unit as a separate entity, with different needs and goals, enterprise-wide management takes a step back.

By seeing the bigger picture, it allows companies to factor in potential issues that no one may actually consider. Broader recruitment issues like industry skills gaps, global mobility of top talent, development of high-potential leaders, and the overall employment value proposition are often left out of traditional talent management systems.

This isn't because no one knows these are issues, but more that everyone thinks someone else will be handling it or taking it into consideration.

Broadly speaking, enterprise talent management achieves:

  • Co-ownership of talent management between talent leaders and business stakeholders
  • Prioritized activities that exclusively support wider business goals
  • Integration goals that are based on analysis of what the organization will need from talent management in the future

What is talent management?

It’s easy to confuse talent management with HR or recruitment, as there’s a lot of overlap. In a nutshell, talent management refers to the collection of HR processes dedicated to attracting, recruiting, retaining and developing employees.

It's a practice that's become particularly important in recent years, as there’s a significant skills gap across many industries. America needs another 10 million skilled workers in 2020, but throughout 2019 the nation has had around 7 million unfilled jobs. It should come as no surprise, then, that over half of US companies are having trouble recruiting talented staff.

Talent management is a method to negate this issue by drawing together recruitment, development and retention into a single strategy that works towards a common goal. For example, learning and development should be seen not only as a way to improve the skillset of current employees, but also as a way to retain them and to attract new talent.

With 79% of people wanting to see a bigger focus on learning and development at work, but 85% struggling to access training, it’s clear that this could be a major part of talent management. However, by focusing on recruitment, attraction, retention and development as separate entities, you won’t be able to see the bigger picture and work towards it.

Talent management at scale: the biggest problem

The problem with talent management is that scaling it up to larger businesses can cause issues. Companies can find themselves struggling to see any positive outcomes from their talent management strategies, with efficiency and consistency hard to achieve across larger organizations.

This often starts with middle management. One study has found that 57% of typical managers have either no impact on the success of talent management, or actively hinder it. If this is happening across a large organization, it can cause major issues with the overall goals of your talent strategy.

In a lot of cases, this is due to a lack of buy-in from managers outside the HR department. When these employees have a large number of responsibilities, as many do, they have to weigh up every new task and ask “why should I”? If talent management isn’t thought of as a high-priority task, it will fall by the wayside.

Some businesses have tried to solve this by applying the principles of Agile to talent management, and in many industries this can be a good solution. However, it still isn’t going to fix the problem of a lack of buy-in and investment from your managers. For that, you need to look at how to implement talent management across every level of your enterprise.

How to address talent management challenges

The changing business landscape is making talent management much more challenging for businesses of all sizes and a number of key difficulties still remain for the industry as a whole.

Firstly, many HR departments focus their talent management efforts on implementing technology and aligning this with their own systems. Although this can be useful, and tech definitely has a role in talent management, this approach can often lead companies to focus on HR and completing processes, rather than what's important to the business.

Enterprise-wide engagement is another key obstacle. With HR traditionally making all the decisions about integration, it's often difficult to get the buy-in from professionals in the rest of the organization. This is often understandable as HR teams may not have considered factors that manager-level professionals would be aware of.

Another common pitfall of talent management is that teams rush to integrate activities without fully considering how this will affect and feed into the business's wider strategy. This leads to disruption and confusion, which often means activities are picked up and then dropped because they've realized little success for the organization.

How does enterprise talent management help?

Enterprise-wide talent management can help to tackle these obstacles by encouraging more collaboration, planning, and responsibility division across the company, preventing the burden from falling entirely on HR.

It encourages a system where professionals, such as line managers and decision makers, work with HR to identify what their goals are in talent management, enabling a much more comprehensive, business-centric approach. This shared ownership between HR and stakeholders also ensures that talent management is consistent throughout the organization, giving decision makers a much clearer picture of what works and what doesn't.

This talent management collaboration ensures that all activities support organizational goals by taking the expertise of HR professionals, but combining it with insight from other stakeholders. By doing so, it's more likely that engagement levels will be higher throughout the company as more people will have been involved in the planning process, making it easier to convey the motives behind the decisions being made.

Enterprise talent management shifts the entire focus, but it's actually simpler in many ways. HR must focus on what the enterprise-level impact would be of any given activity, which means they get more support from the rest of the organization, rather than being expected to pull talent management off themselves. Leadership teams are a vital part of enterprise talent management systems, as they can help to boost engagement levels and ensure the activities are having the impact needed. This should directly link to the wider business strategy.

With more parts of the business involved in making these key talent management decisions, it's important that the right level of planning is awarded. Enterprise-wide systems work best when used alongside analysis to try and predict what an organization's goals may be in the immediate and long-term future. This helps everyone better prepare for future conditions and how talent management will best fit into them.

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