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Talent mobility – understanding your talent

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5th Jun 2014
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In the second part of a four-part series looking at talent mobility, Matt Russell, Head of Talent Development at Lee Hecht Harrison, explores the importance of ‘understanding’ the talent in your organisation and making sure leaders are made aware of their role and accountabilities for being effective mobilisers.

Read part one of this series, "Talent mobility - essential for organisational success."

Rather than a singular process within talent development, talent mobility is better understood as a critical segment of the talent lifecycle that includes three primary facets of talent mobilisation - from strategically acquiring and assessing talent, to actively developing those individuals and preparing and deploying employees effectively for roles inside or even outside of the organisation.

Talent mobility has become a hallmark of a modern, global economy and a core dimension of workforce planning. We know we’ve got to do it, and some organisations are taking giant steps towards becoming effective at it, but how many organisations are taking steps to truly measure it?

As part of the research carried out by the Human Capital Institute and Lee Hecht Harrison, we conducted a factor analysis to create three indices to capture the key elements of these behaviours - understand, develop and deploy. An organisation scored ‘high’ on an index if respondents reported that the correlated behaviours are practiced or offered 50% of the time or more often. If an organisation scored high on all three indices they were viewed as ‘committed mobilisers.’ The research also showed a direct correlation with growth - organisations that were rated as committed talent mobilisers experienced a 12% higher revenue growth rate than other organisations.

So who and what are the organisations that truly understand talent? They focus on talent mobility as a priority, prepare managers to assess their talent and actively communicate information and plans about career opportunities with employees.

Organisations that score highly in the ‘understand’ area of talent mobility do the following really well:  

  • Employees are well informed about open positions. They provide a clear and simple way for all open positions to be advertised.  This is typically through the intranet or via a weekly email. All roles are advertised in this way and leaders are supported in encouraging employees to apply for open positions.
  • Managers assess existing talent.  Managers are given tools to assess and understand the capabilities of their teams. These tools include simple assessment tools and easy to formulate development plans. Organisations that do this well also help managers understand how to assess the leadership potential of their employees. Typically, organisations provide these tools through training based on the ‘assess and understand’ concepts of talent mobility.
  • Leaders invest financial resources in talent mobility. Talent mobility starts at the top of the organisation with executive sponsorship for the process. Those organisations that deliver world-class talent mobility not only train managers to understand talent, but also actively invest time and money in the process. This includes giving managers the freedom to make internal hiring decisions but also the commitment to mobilising talent throughout the organisation.
  • Company-wide talent reviews.  Those organisations that do this well have a clear picture of their talent, their capabilities, promote internally and have better retention rates. Critical to making this happen is creating a ‘talent mindset’ throughout the organisation by training and developing leaders in the critical skills to drive talent mobility and measuring the success via performance management.
  • Regularly scheduled performance reviews.  Performance management is NOT a once a year conversation; nor is it a system. Performance management is a process for ongoing high performance and development through regular performance reviews. Successful organisations that ‘understand’ their talent hold their leaders and managers accountable for performance and developing individuals through regular performance reviews. The only way to achieve this is by giving your leaders the skills and tools to have effective performance and coaching conversations.
  • Talent management software.  Giving leaders and managers the skills to drive performance management is one part of the jigsaw. Just as important to delivering global talent mobility is having a process and system for managing performance data.  Having an effective software system enables the best performing organisations to analyse and use data to make critical talent mobility decisions.
  • Successors to key positions are identified ahead of need. Early identification of talent and potential is a key driver to achieving ‘best practice’ talent mobility. In addition, those organisations that identify and understand talent drive succession and retain talent at a better rate than their competitors.

In the third part of this series we will look at the next key phase in the talent mobility process; that of ‘development’. This article will demonstrate how and why organisations must provide and prioritise opportunities for employees to gain experience and increase skills whilst also holding leaders accountable for developing teams and employees. 

Click here to read the first part of this series, which focuses on the meaning and importance of talent mobility.

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