A new book “The Value of Talent”, by Janice Caplan is about Talent Management but, it seems to me, has clear overlap with corporate governance. I have tried to summarise some of the main ideas of the book, though omitting the detail of how to achieve the goals described.
Talent Management is far more than an approach to recruiting and retaining business leaders but is a new way of managing and leading people and organizations that suits our times.
The rise of new economies as significant markets and competitors, increasing globalisation of trade and the breathtaking speed of new technology changing how we think and how we do things are just three of the factors that are leading to a new global business environment. This ‘new world’ demands new business models, new leadership models and new HR models.
The old order
· developing ad hoc, unconnected solutions to short-term problems,
· burdened with a legacy of command and control
As a result, management systems developed for control result in unintended consequences that block flexibility and slow change. Nonetheless new systems such as competency frameworks and performance appraisals are now widely accepted and most business leaders do believe that people are their greatest asset.
What does the new world need?
In the new world, significant change or inspiration, although shaped by leaders’ strategic vision may emerge from anyone: in a team or an individual at any level.
It needs ‘joined up’ management processes to be integrated to support the business strategy. It demands flexibility to react quickly and to innovate; new ideas to emerge at all levels within organisations, for teams to form, rearrange themselves and disband when projects are complete; sensitivity to what is happening in markets: to new competitors, new technologies, new ideas and new opportunities; because change happens faster than it used to. It demands collaborative working within organisations and with external consultants, suppliers and partners, all working within virtual teams, to achieve common goals. It also demands constant attention to engineering out costs.
What must be done?
These challenges demand new ways of leadership. Talent Management focuses on bringing out everyone’s talents because everyone is essential to the future of the organization. A clear Talent Management strategy identifies current organization and individual capabilities, where they need to be, and focuses on actions to get from here to there. This goes beyond learning and adapting. It engages people with the business strategy: not keeping up with change but keeping ahead of it.
This is a holistic approach. It includes provision for exceptional performers and future leaders and also deals with underperformance and with refreshing existing skills. It is likely to cover also those, such as suppliers and consultants, who are not directly employed but are still part of your team.
The approach uses job experiences as well as conventional means to develop people and emphasises providing stretching work. It challenges those at the top to think through the capabilities needed to deliver their strategies.
Talent Management is not just about systems or people but about integrating them to achieve the organization strategy so that line managers must manage talent just as they are expected to manage other resources.
The overlap with the governance agenda arises from this integrated approach that has to start from the boardroom. It also calls for the sort of communication and leadership that is a critical part of good governance beyond the boardroom.