People are our greatest asset… or are they?


People are our greatest asset… or are they?

It was great to hear a case study presented by Sam Marchetta (High Potential Learning Leader, EY) for our webinar on “Putting Talent on the Business Agenda” earlier this week.  This was a good opportunity to hear about how EY has developed targeted programs and initiatives to drive a talent agenda that aligns with the overall business strategy.  It was also a great opportunity to gain insight into best practice in talent management in a leading organisation. Whilst it intuitively makes sense that the talent and business strategy should be aligned, it was interesting to discover that of those that attended the webinar, 20% indicated that the business and talent agendas were developed separately in their organisation, whilst another 14% indicated that they did not have a talent agenda at all.  This means that 34% of people that attended were working in organisations where the business and talent agendas were not aligned.  Indeed, our research on best practice in practice talent management indicated that few organisations had a clearly articulated talent strategy.  This raises a number of issues for organisations, such as:

Whilst many organisations would agree with the statement that: “People are not your most important asset, the RIGHT people are.” (Jim Collins, “Good to Great” (2001)), are they living this in practice? Without a talent agenda that is clearly aligned to the business agenda, this would be very difficult!  How can you drive key business outcomes without the right people?
Talent management can be seen as a costly overhead; and
You are less likely to gain buy in from key stakeholders if they can’t clearly see the need to align talent initiatives and programs and how they drive business outcomes.

So how do you go about aligning the business and talent agendas?  Sam Marchetta discussed some key steps from an HR perspective, including:

Understand the business agenda.  Gather information from your key business stakeholders, and check your understanding.
Identify future capability requirements.  What skills, mindsets, and behaviours will your organisation require to achieve the business agenda?
Establish the desired leadership behaviours.  What are these behaviours?  Do they exist or do they need to be developed?
Target the most critical talent segments.  It’s unlikely that you’ll have unlimited resources to develop all of your employees.  Determine which segments are strategically important to achieve the business agenda.  How will you identify them? What skills, behaviours and competencies will they need?  Can these be developed?

By engaging in this process, HR can become a true strategic partner of the business, and stakeholders can see how clearly the talent agenda supports the business agenda.  This can result in HR being seen as a valued part of the business (not just a cost centre), and can also assist in providing a strong business case when putting forward your budget for approval.  Finally, it can also create a common vision across the business where everyone is working towards the same outcomes, assisting to engage your employees more effectively and to retain your key talent. 

Do you have a clear talent strategy? Are the business and talent agendas aligned in your organisation?  And what impact does this have on talent initiatives?

Prue Laurence

Director at Psylutions

Prue Laurence is the Director and Principal Consulting Psychologist with Psylutions. She plays an integral role in the design and implementation of the suite of Psylutions services. A registered psychologist, Prue has over 15 years of business consulting experience within both the government and commercial fields. Preferring to work closely with her clients, Prue is passionate about ensuring they receive tailored and seamless delivery of Psylutions services.

Comments (2)
Mahua Das

Mahua Das, Director at Next Gen Teams

Great article Prue. I am working with an organisation on developing and implementing their succession plan and the blueprint of the project is exactly the same as you described here - namely, building the desired skills and behaviour on the platform of the business strategy. Additionally, it is also giving us the performance benchmark throughout the organisation and in the next phase of the project we can prepare people to performance up. Really enjoyed reading the article. Thank you.

John Belchamber

John Belchamber, Owner & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results

Gpod article Prue, I'm a great proponent/practitioner of developing Transformational Leadership skills (similar to Level 5 leaders) who recognise that what you say is the key to developing sustainable performance and attracting and retaining the 'right people, in the right places, performing the right tasks'. It's always fascinated me how many people prefer to just manage rather than lead!