The overriding challenge of talent management will be its capacity to adapt to changes—both construct-wise and management-wise—in order to achieve a vision that is closer and more connected to reality. Managing talent competitively today involves, on the one hand, turning away from the hapless past we have inherited in the shape of HR policies built on strategic shortsightedness and the prevalence of control over connection, and on the other, developing tools and delivering them to the artists, the people with talent, so they can produce the new. From this premise, 15 major challenges emerge:
The first has to do with the idea that talent management must bear in mind that the new talent war will not be determined, as its predecessor was, by market “shortage” but rather by organizations’ incapacity to successfully address their “connection” in terms of context and with the business.
The second is about interpreting that the context is a playing field on which it is necessary to build the organization’s talent map, a playing field that is determined by constraints such as BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear and Incomprehensible), which Jamais Cascio defines through aspirational paradigms such as Bauman’s ideas of liquid modernity.
The third challenge is concerned with the ability to build the rules of talent from the perspective of the cause-effect relationship in business models.
The fourth challenge is determined by the need to overcome the erroneous stubbornness in which organizations are entrenched, of continuing to manage today’s realities with yesterday’s instruments.
The fifth challenge is about interpreting and managing properly the “new balance” between organizational and personal needs.
The sixth is related to the collision that exists between the “limited supply of value” that organizations propose to people and the “insatiable demand for value” that partners place on organizations. This may turn out to be the most complex challenge to manage in times to come.
The eighth challenge focuses on stopping the need for diversity from prevailing over the need for the value of uniqueness, understood as the unique and differential value of each of the professionals who form part of an organization.
The ninth challenge is perhaps the most controversial, insofar as it is radical in approaching teleworking as an organizational model rather than a motivational one. Managing it as a motivational and/or remuneration factor is a big mistake which will definitely be cause for subsequent “organizational regrets.” Teleworking as an organizational model requires an objective reading from the business to people, and therefore from the value chain to emotional considerations, and enabling its use to be determined by both the type of “positions and jobs” and the type of “professionals.”
The tenth challenge involves breaking a historical prevalence of cultural orientations towards processes and power over those of results and people, and that can only be done by fostering and developing scenarios of trust, scenarios that make it possible to reduce complexity (Niklas Luhmann) and infuse speed into organizational performance (Stephen Covey). Unfortunately, control is, in addition to a mistaken “cultural leitmotif,” also an absurd input that is used in an attempt to obtain the desired output (performance).
The eleventh challenge centers on definitively incorporating meritocracy as the decision-making meta-criterion in talent management. I see this as a key issue for the necessary transformation of talent models. If the answer is not affirmative we will undoubtedly remain stuck on “Groundhog Day.” Compassion, fear, beliefs, “I reckon…,” “I’ve got a feeling…,” “because I say so…” are criteria that have been used far too often in talent management.
The twelfth challenge is based on the following question: Who should adapt to whom? The company to people or people to the company? In my view, the first option is an unwanted consequence of Stockholm syndrome (“prisoners” of people instead of “drivers” of the business through people), in which the HR area is still trapped.
The thirteenth challenge responds to a whole series of issues derived from one broad question: Will we be able to interpret the new talent codes properly? And on this basis, organizations are going to have to ask themselves if they are clear about all the keys to the talent formula, and if they are aware of how strongly the keys associated with “living” and “connecting” are emerging, and if they are aware of the depletion of some codes such as know-how and experience and that in the talent formula the order of the factors actually does alter the final outcome.
The fourteenth challenge is about knowing how to make smart use of the new alternative ways of working, which are here to stay. Diversity of talent linking models (in form, in time, and from different spaces) is beginning to be a variable of acknowledged strategic value. Talent as a “pull” rather than a “template” is going to become one of the great ambitions of organizational change, and leading on from that, “hiring versus linking” is starting to emerge as one of the momentous dilemmas of the future.
The fifteenth challenge is underpinned by the idea of moving away from the intuitive method for decision-making about people and replacing it with factual analysis. Managing the whole talent flow (entry, learning, development, compensation, analysis and evaluation, and exit) through intuition and perception, and therefore with no or very poor data, has ceased to be an act of heroism and has become malpractice. As British physicist and mathematician William Thomson Kelvin once said, many years ago, “What is not measured cannot be improved, and what is not improved will always degrade.”
Source: Francisco Loscos (Associate Professor at Esade’s Department of People Management & Organisation)