Why we don’t manage talent

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Stephanie ViljoenTalent management is often a source of frustration for executives. It is viewed as an administrative exercise that needs to be completed for the Human Capital Department in anticipation of the needs of employees and reacting to it. This approach to talent is reactive and does not take into consideration the changing nature of business. The biggest pitfall for organisations is the notion that talent can be managed. A fundamental shift is required in the way we approach talent. It requires that we move away from managing talent to investing in it.

Talent investment is key to delivering on the strategy of any organisation. It is a deliberate and active process of identifying, developing and retaining aptitude and skill. Talent investment is, therefore, a move away from reactive management of talent and more of an approach of investing in an individual for the mutual benefit of the individual and the organisation. This implies that organisations need to have a solid understanding of their talent investment strategy, their human capital plan and how it translates into current and future capabilities. There is a direct correlation between the organisation’s strategy, capability and capacity model, the approach to talent, performance management, development and retention.

Investing in talent is about providing opportunities for people with the highest potential in an organisation to learn, develop, and gain useful experience and for them to progress in their careers. It means stimulating and retaining the people who are destined to play a major role in the future of the organisation. This task is made much easier where talent is understood and developed optimally. A critical process to talent investment is understanding the needs of each individual. This implies that development, growth and retention are an individualistic process and should be applied as such. It involves conversations aimed at understanding what makes an employee tick, what their passions are and what will retain them. What works for one employee will not work for another and organisational investment needs to focus on these individual plans.

A key part of talent investment is succession planning. This is the identification of those critical roles and functions within an organisation that are due to become vacant because of retirement, attrition, business growth, innovation or change, and where pro-active and strategic consideration is given to where and how internal and external candidates might fill these roles. Having an actively driven succession plan clearly aligned to strategy assists in identifying future leaders. A carefully considered succession plan also implies being aware of the gems outside of your organisation that you might want to attract in future. Growing internal talent and bringing in the diversity of external talent will positively impact on the engagement levels among all employees.

At Bank Windhoek, the objective of talent investment is aligned to the strategy of the organisation. It’s a process of understanding where we want to be and what is required to get there. It asks for an integrated Human Capital approach that looks at the full value chain and life cycle of an employee.

Bank Windhoek aims to:
1. Create a culture of high-performance, which is focused on crafting a sustainable organisation for our employees that exceeds both strategic and operational goals and objectives.

2. Develop business leadership, who can deliver on the current and future organisational strategy. We want to develop leaders that think beyond the current and focus on exponential and innovative change and how to foster that throughout the organisation.

3. Create opportunities for employees to advance their career aspirations in the company. We believe that you can have multiple careers under one roof.

4. Ensure that the workforce planning aligns to the strategy and that positions are adequately filled with the right people at the right time; we want the right people, on the right bus, sitting on the right seat.

5. Live out our organisational behaviours, called The Capricorn Way, which creates a sense of identity and belonging for all employees. The Capricorn Way is our north star and guides us toward achieving our strategic objectives.

Benefits of Talent Investment
There is a direct link between talent investment and delivering on the strategy of any organisation. Talent investment touches on recruitment requirements and practices, the development and growth of talent as well as the retention of these employees. Correctly applied talent investment principles ensure that a sustainable organisation is created by focusing on the lifecycle of an employee, which includes the element of succession planning.

Focused talent investment improves internal resource allocation. Companies that apply an integrated talent investment strategy often see a significant reduction in talent leaving the organisation, an increase in talent mobility into different roles and a strong employer brand that attracts a diverse workforce. Companies are also more likely to experience increased engagement levels and committed and motivated employees that contribute to a successful organisation, not just for the short term, but also for the future.

* Stephanie Viljoen is the Executive Officer for Human Capital & Citizenship at Bank Windhoek

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