Effective Talent Management


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When three leading magazines (Harvard Business Review, Business Week, and Training & Development) all have cover stories about talent management the same month, it is safe to say you are looking at a hot topic.

Talent management (the recruiting, training, and retaining of good workers) has had many names over the years, but it is certainly not new. While the topic is not new, how we think about it has evolved over time.

As early as the late 19th century, business organizations turned to universities for help developing their employees. In 1881, Joseph Wharton (co-founder of Bethlehem Steel) persuaded the University of Pennsylvania to create an undergraduate business education program. Soon after, Dartmouth and Harvard followed Wharton’s lead.

In the mid-twentieth century, universities shifted their focus from factory workers to executives. As the importance of manual labor declined, universities abandoned the “hard issues” for the theoretical.

As university programs became more irrelevant, business organizations responded with corporate universities (CUs). CUs (beginning with GE’s in Crotonville, NY) offered company-specific training that was relevant to their companies’ real-world practice.

Training of managers and executives outside of the university setting has become quite sophisticated. In addition to executive MBA programs, both executive coaching and action learning are now widely available. Executive coaching offers one-on-one guidance on many of the emotional intelligence or “soft” skills. Action learning is designed to allow managers and executives to work on real problems and to learn simultaneously.

So what’s the problem Mike? If organizational learning has become more sophisticated, aren’t companies more profitable? Not necessarily. These sophisticated training programs are expensive. Do we know the ROI (return on investment) for these massive investments of time and money?

Also, many companies neglect the fact that training is only part of effective talent management. Talent management also includes recruiting and retention.

Is your company training the right people? Training the wrong people is a waste of limited organizational resources. After you have trained the right people, can you retain them? If not, you are simply training good people for your competitors.

During my consulting work, I have often suspected that most companies are not handling talent management effectively. A recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study confirmed my suspicions. SHRM found that only 49% of HR professionals believe their organizations effectively identify high-potential employees. That means 51% of companies are wasting a lot of time and money.

Is your organizations part of the 49%, or the 51%?

Dr. Mike Beitler is the author of “Strategic Organizational Learning. " Read 3 free chapters of the book online right now at http://www.strategic-organizational-learning.com/


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