But there is serious competition for the top talent in the business world, and some organizations have not yet understood how to find what it needs, select the best of those who could be of help to them, how to develop that talent once it is identified, and then retain those people and keep them from going off to a competitor who pays more, or offers other incentives that would keep them employed at that organization. It is critical not to underestimate the competition. A business manager is a manager, first and foremost, and sometimes good managers possess leadership skills, too. Leadership and management is not content-specific-a good manager and leader can manage and lead anywhere, and if these talented people are free to go where they are compensated for their talent the most, that is likely where they will be. The old approach of loyalty to one company for one's career is very much now a thing of the past.
This paper will be a review of recent literature that explores the importance of finding, selecting, developing, and retaining top talent in the business world. That world is changing very rapidly, and organizations that do not keep pace or understand how to handle the talent that they have and/or need will not fare well, while organizations that are HR savvy and are kept abreast of how talent is managed will do much better. These organizations understand that business is hard enough even when what to do and how to do it are well-understood.
Supposing that this is true, the question becomes how do we find these people? Should we look for them or will they find us? `Where are we likely to find them? What is the best approach for sourcing these people? Gandossy and Kao of Hewitt Associates, examined what they called the "perfect storm" of labor markets. As the economy rebounds, there is pressure to expand the organization. But there is a shrinking labor pool especially at skilled levels. The ability to source and acquire talent is critical, as has been mentioned, but with these factors at work, there are fewer of these people and more organizations looking for them. The authors say that the best approach a is taken by companies that are willing to be proactive in searching for new ways of doing things, new ways of looking at challenging situations, that will enable them to meet today's challenges while at the same time allowing them to anticipate what is coming and be in a position to address that proactively, too. Some companies have developed what is known as a supply-chain approach to sourcing talent. Some do it by organizing talent, skills, and capabilities enterprise-wide, while others set up a system like an internal labor market by which current employees can "sell" themselves. And this is often overlooked-sometimes the best and most talented person an organization could have is already employed, but not in the best position or situation. These kinds of approaches help organizations find the talent within their own enterprises and select and develop those. It is the most efficient way to find talent that can be an asset to the organization.
The authors list several critical components of talent sourcing. Whatever approach is taken, these need to be a part of it:
Critical Components of Talent Sourcing
Capelli explains that the point of talent management isn't to necessarily develop employees or to create succession plans, but to position the organization so that is can achieve its overall objectives. The objective, of course, is to make money. Making money requires that decisions be made about costs and benefits, and which is more urgent. When talent is seen as an asset, it then becomes critical to select those who represent a real asset to the company, and to minimize errors in the selection process from the beginning. Mistakes in selection of management people has a profound cost to the organization immediately, and to the future as well.
As has been said, once people have been found who could or will be a potential asset to the business, the next step in the process is selecting those who are the very best for the organization. The BMA Editorial Team has identified eleven steps for selecting top management talent. The eleven steps include having a well-thought-out recruitment process in place. Selecting employees should never be a haphazard enterprise-these people can either potentially reward the organization for its patent selection, or set the organization back and be very costly. The interview team should be identified and everyone on the team should be competent with the skills of interviewing. Further, a role expectations description should be developed based on criteria upon which everyone agrees. It is good to have all of the interviewers understand what exactly is required of the candidate. Interview questions should be open-ended, and behavioral in nature. It should be understood that the person selected should have a track record of having done what needs to be done. Some system should be developed about who will ask what, and the questions should be prepared in advance. Hiring decisions should not be made on the basis of one interview; there should be time for reflection and then another interview to compare answers and to delve more deeply.
Candidates should feel completely comfortable in the interview. If they are defensive, the organization will not get their best answers. The purpose of the interview is to get them to reveal themselves, and this is best done in a more congenial atmosphere that in an interrogative one. Allow the candidate to ask questions-this can be revealing as well-and extensive reference-checking should always bed done to verify that the candidate has done what he or she says he or she has done. Finally, the authors say, there should be the use of scientifically-validated and sophisticated preemployment assessment tool administered. These help to identify high-performing candidates.
Taken altogether, these strategies performed carefully and thoughtfully will aid in the selection process immensely, and help to minimize costly error. Selecting the right employees the first time is the hallmark of a good organization that understands how to see managers as assets rather than as liabilities.
Developing Top Talent
Melvin Scales writes about the best ways to develop employees. Development implies that an employee has much more to learn still even after being hired, and that it is this development that is critical in improving skills and also in retaining the employee. An employee who believes that he or she is equipped to do the job and has the resources to do it will feel engaged, and being engaged is the key to employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention, which will be discussed next.
A study was conducted by Scales of over 28,000 respondents who were asked to give their level of agreement with 100 statement grouped in 11 different major topics related to organizational effectiveness. The finding showed that there was a significant correlation between career development opportunities and employee engagement. Specifically, the author found that organizations providing career and development support were:
Implement key career development measures to drive performance.
1. Demonstrate your commitment to employees by preferring to develop from within versus hiring from the outside.
2. Ensure that your investment in learning and development is meaningful.
3. Provide employees with incentives to develop by showing them how they can progress.
4. Empower your employees-make them partners in their own development.
Create a workforce development plan based on skills and needs inventory.
To avoid having to hire externally, organizations must create a comprehensive workforce
development plan based on a careful skills and needs inventory. To help empower employees
and show them how they can progress in their careers, immediate managers must engage them
in regular career discussions.
Employees must play an active role in their managing their careers.
For their part, employees must play an active role in charting a course for their careers. With guidance and support from their organization, they must explore their own desires and aptitudes, the needs and priorities of the organization and the career options available to them.
Retaining Top Talent
The goal of talent management is, of course, to not only hire and train the best people possible, but to ultimately retain them. Training people, losing them, and the training someone else for the same job for which there was a trained and competent person is very expensive to an organization. Keeping the best ones is paramount for organizational stability and growth, and in an ever-increasing competitive market, these factors can make the difference between business success and business failure.
Insala discusses Herzberg's Theory of Motivation which explains that the factors involved in employee motivation are not the same as those which lead to dissatisfaction. This goes along somewhat with Maslow's Theory of Needs, in which he categorizes needs in a hierarchy ranging from the most basic needs to those that are of a higher order. Work conditions and salary are the things that meet an employee's basic needs, while recognition, feelings about doing a good job and maximizing talent are things that meet higher order needs. According to Greenberg, "Compensation alone is not enough to keep the highly skilled, motivated and experienced workforce your business needs to excel." Lawler, writing in the Harvard Business Review, says that while workers "join companies for rational motives (better compensation, benefits, and career opportunities), they stay and work hard for emotional ones." The pivotal point for employees is engagement with their jobs. As mentioned in the previous section on employee development, engagement is a crucial factor in retention of those employees. According to the Gallup Management Group, improving employee engagement is crucial because employees who feel engaged have:
Application of Theories to State University Employment
State universities are not by nature profit-driven. But in all of the discussion about how an organization must find, select, develop, and retain top talent, the theories and recommendations still hold. Those who work in universities are clearly talented, and the more talented people a university hires and retains, the more likely it is that the university will also attract and keep talented students, which will only enhance the university's reputation, thus creating a sustainability that the university may not have otherwise. In my particular case, this is true,.There is an emphasis on professional development especially, and also on the recruitment process for finding the best employees available.
Two theories are at work here in the process of finding, selecting, developing, and retaining top talent to and in an organization. The first is a systems theory espoused by Schweyer, which posits that when an organization focuses on top managers (everyone really) as assets to the organization, with intangible worth, productivity, employee satisfaction, and engagement improve significantly. All three of these are related to retention, especially, which is critical for organizational stability and success.
The other theory is the motivation theory of Herzberg, which posits that good (i.e. talented and professional) employees are motivated less by salary and work conditions less than they are by excellence. This dovetails nicely into the first theory, and aligns with Maslow's Theory of Needs, which posits that people who have had their basic needs met are motivated to meet higher order existential needs, of which a pursuit of excellence is a part.
Together, these theories motivate organizations to engage with their employees, their top talented employees in particular, in ways that lead to success and the successful retention of the best employees even in times of uncertainty. Doing so eliminates or diminishes the prospect of hiring and then hiring again, which is a costly enterprise and can set the organizational objectives back so that the company struggles when it could have been growing and becoming more successful.
BMA Editorial Team. 11 steps for selecting top management talent. Woodridge HRM Articles.
Capelli, P. Talent on demand: Managing talent in an age of uncertainty. Harvard Business Press.
Dernovsek, Darla. Engaged employees. Credit Union Magazine 74(5).
Gandossy, R. and Kao, T. The right people, right now: Best-In-Class talent sourcing and acquisition. Real World Examples. Hewitt Associates.
Greenberg, M.D. Issues and Performance in the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation System (Occasional Paper). Rand Publishing.
Insala. Motivating and retaining top talent through employee engagement.
Lawler III, E. E. 'Why are we losing all our good people?' Harvard Business Review.
Scales, M. Developing talent: How career opportunities drive business performance.
Schweyer, A. Talent management systems: Best practices in technology solutions for recruitment, retention and workforce planning. Wiley.
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Working on planning and development of complex strategies allowing universities and other organizations acquire top employees.