Managing talent in the new age economy

Corporate houses are experiencing ever increasing changes and challenges in the new age economy. Innovation, creativity, brand new ideas, research and development, and managing changes have become common phenomenon. The work environment is forcing people to renew their competencies and commitments in order to make the necessary contributions and have a competitive edge.
Illustration: Ehsanur Raza Ronny

Having a proper understanding of changes and challenges lying ahead of us is immensely important. Identifying top performers and preparing them for strategic and leadership roles has become imperative. Hence, talent management has come into the picture as the dominating theme for the 21st century in business arenas. It is an essential force for achieving bigger goals, going from good to great, and long-term sustainability.

HR management has evolved through different phases. It started with administrative functions to personnel management, record keeping, management of attendance, leave, canteens, cleanliness, etc. With the increased responsibility of HR, the theory of Human Capital Management is taking its root in management, replacing earlier concepts. One of the prime HR thrusts is talent management. Talent management is nothing but a strategic role of HR management aligned with business goals and objectives, encompassing acquisition, development, engagement and retention of talent.

HR management is tactical, dealing with the day-to-day management of people, while talent management is strategic, associated with business goals and objectives. HR management is creating a congenial working environment where people can be more productive while talent management is engaging people who are talented, highly skilled, and specialised, with the objective of retaining them for a longer period for competitive edge and business success. Effective talent management is a win-win game. It ensures higher productivity than peers.

We may divide people working in any organisation into three categories: A, B, and C.  Category A is the real talent in the organisation—they are mission-critical, self-motivated, proactive, highly energetic, creative, and full of ideas, trendsetters, and trouble-shooters. They energise others and are able to take tough decisions and maintain discipline in executions. They like and enjoy challenging and purpose-driven careers and rewarding experiences. They would like to work for a greater cause and in value creation. This category of people are small in number—they may make up a maximum of 20 percent of the organisation. It is very important to engage and retain this type of talented people. They should be given recognition in terms of pay and opportunities.

Most of the organisation is full of Category B—around 70 percent. They are reactive and critical to organisational success. They are followers, and require push and pull. Management requires extra attention, time and effort in developing and managing their performance at the desired level. Training, coaching, mentoring and counselling are essential for them. They need recognition too, mostly in monitory values.

Category C is non-productive—they are demotivated and destructive for the organisation. They kill other people's enthusiasm, time and energy. C types may make up 10 percent, but honestly should not be allowed to continue their job for long as they hold a higher risk of negatively influencing peers and co-workers.

Talent management is not straightforward; it is a very critical role. As a top-down approach, the relevant authority in the management has to be convinced and supportive of talent management approaches and culture. The HR department or function heads are handicapped in acquisition, development, engagement and retention of talent and obtain benefits without sponsorship by the top management.

There is talent at different levels and individuals other than Category A who are highly mission-critical. It is important for HR and functional heads to look for such talent for strategic roles and leadership apart from nourishing existing talents properly. Engagement of talent is relatively more important, requiring a proper performance management system and feedback. Business leaders must reshuffle their perception and focus in order to promote and retain talent for greater success today and tomorrow.

M A Mannan is Head of Human Resources at Bangladesh Express Co Ltd, licensee of Federal Express Corporation.


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