Strategic Innovation & Marketing ACCELERATORS

The War on Talent is a Myth - So What's the Real Challenge?

The War on Talent is a Myth - So What's the Real Challenge?

 Have you ever heard about the “war for talent”? The term appeared first in a 1997 research study by McKinsey and was popularized in the 2001 book of the same title. In The War for Talent, Michaels et al. argue that companies have to navigate an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Demographic shifts and increasing demand for highly skilled knowledge workers are responsible for the predicted talent shortage. In response to the call to win in The War for Talent, the talent management industry gained momentum and grew in popularity.

Twenty years later, we may ask in hindsight: Have many organizations suffered from a shortage of talented people during the past two decades? Indeed, companies face difficulties to find enough talents for specific roles in certain industries (e.g., IT developers). However, the “war for talent” has proved to be a myth. In most areas and countries, talents abound. So, if we’re not short of talent, what’s the real challenge? Most organizations are unable to recognize the real “personal assets” of their human capital and how to best use them. Today and in two weeks, we’ll explore in a two-articles episode how human resource managers can better manage human capital along the talent management cycle with the help of TIPS Innovation Profiles, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling assessment for business and innovation.

Introduction: The talent management lifecycle

Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

Stage 1: Talent planning

Talent planning is a strategic approach that involves identifying key positions and roles, understanding critical skills requirements and gaps, and creating transition and succession plans to keep critical roles filled with top players today and in the future. The practice encompasses the assessment of an organization’s current level of talent, predicting the future talent needs necessary to achieve its strategic objectives, and then creating corresponding action strategies for recruiting, retaining and releasing talents.

TIPS can be a valuable conceptual tool to help talent planners gauge an appropriate cognitive mix in an organization’s talent pool. Depending on the industry and the evolutionary phase in the business cycle, a company or strategic business unit needs more talents with specific personality profiles and related cognitive styles. For example, banks or accounting firms have a greater need for quantitative, analytical thinkers, while agencies in the creative industries need a high proportion of qualitative creative thinkers. With regards to the business cycle phase, a fast-growing company needs to focus on bringing in more operational knowledge workers to solidify its backend, while a company threatened by digital transformation needs to look for agile, creative talents who drive change as the organization begins a new business cycle to avoid disruption and creative destruction.

Stage 2: Talent acquisition

Talent acquisition is all about hiring the right person for an open position. How can TIPS help organizations to acquire the right talents who cognitively fit the requirements of a particular job (and prevent them from hiring the wrong people)? In a TIPS talent acquisition project, we use a gamified approach to help a human resources team translate the job description for each open position into compatible TIPS profiles. Typically, every role has a primary TIPS profile representing an ideal cognitive fit and 1-3 secondary profiles that are possibles.

Then, human resources invite all shortlisted candidates to take the TIPS online test to determine their TIPS profile. Next, we check for the cognitive job fit of each candidate. When the recruitment committee members conduct the final job interviews with the shortlisted top candidates, they can ask specific questions to validate the cognitive suitability of each candidate further. Finally, they decide on the best candidate considering all position-specific competencies (knowledge, skills, expertise, and cognitive profile).

Would you like to get more details on a TIPS-empowered talent recruitment process? Check out an earlier article titled How to hire the right talents with TIPS.

Stage 3: Talent onboarding

When a new talent joins an organization, they often first go through an orientation program that helps to familiarize them with their new organization. After the initial “honeymoon period”, however, many talents are left alone in living up to the expectation of their new boss and colleagues.

One onboarding approach to help new talents to integrate into their new organization successfully, and avoid disillusionment, is to assign them a mentor. Here, TIPS can help to ensure that the mentor has a similar, or ideally, the same TIPS profile as a new talent. Why is this useful?

People with the same or similar profiles and cognitive preferences tend to like each other. They share similar viewpoints and cognitive styles. Hence, a TIPS-compatible mentor can share with her mentee how to effectively navigate the company culture (the real one, not its public relations version) while staying true to one’s natural talents and personality.

Interim conclusion and outlook:

Today, I have explained how TIPS can support the initial recruitment phase of the talent management lifecycle with its three stages of talent planning, talent acquisition, and talent onboarding. In two weeks, part 2 of this article will explore how companies can better manage the remaining two phases of the talent management lifecycle: talent retainment (with the five stages talent (re-)alignment, management, development, performance, and leadership) and talent release (with the final lifecycle stage talent transition).

  • Are you a Human Resources Manager and would like to learn more about how TIPS Workshops can help you better manage your human capital?
  • Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Click to take your test now and receive your in-depth 36-page profile report for just $89.
  • Would you like to find out more about our TIPS training? Contact us to tell us more.

© Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

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