Winning the War for Talent by Avoiding It – Part 1

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tugofwar-300x199We’ve all heard about the war for talent. The cost of losing a talented employee to the competition or being unable to deliver a product on time because of resource deficits are problems many businesses face today. While there is most certainly a battle raging for the top talent across virtually all business sectors, the “winners” are gaining the most ground not by raiding the competition but by developing internal strategies for career path and succession planning.

There are many advantages to retaining high quality employees, not the least of which is a positive impact to the bottom line. Retention improves when an organization provides resources that enable employees to manage career development and pursue opportunities internally. Systems can be used by organizations to document employee skills, experience and career goals for use in succession planning. Employees can use the same tools to plan their careers. The winners are working to cultivate a culture in which the notion of looking for the next assignment or being invited to interview for the next role “here” instead of “out there” is embedded.

The impact and success of mobility/retention programs are directly related to:

  • Leadership’s commitment to letting employees move within the organization
  • The size and complexity of the organization
  • The variety and criticality of skill sets
  • The clear definition of competencies that must be held or acquired to fill a new role
  • System (procedural and technological) selection
  • Communication and training

Setting up the processes and tools to facilitate retention and mobility can be complicated, and it does come at some expense. When you think about the cost of losing trained staff and replacing them, however, the offset can be recouped quickly. Here are a few thoughts for consideration.

Leadership Commitment and Communication

Unleashing an employee’s ability to move within an organization is a difficult idea for some managers to embrace, but it’s absolutely essential that employees feel safe when considering a career change within the organization. Many managers choose to think employees simply won’t leave, despite the attrition data telling them otherwise. When the employee feels like pursuit of other internal assignments might create negative feelings and reactions, it justifies the notion of looking outside of the organization first.

Senior leaders must offer support and unwavering dedication to the success their internal mobility programs. Consistent messaging and support is needed to convince mid-level and line managers that the way to maintain and grow their teams is by planning to let people advance. Of course, this means that they will also have to fill the resulting vacancy by planning the advancement of others—not always a welcome idea. One obvious reason for reluctance is that managing the talent takes work. In work environments where most are already spread thin, finding the time is a challenge.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Next week I will share my thoughts on building a roadmap, leveraging technology and justifying the cost.

Ernie Nunez

Ernie is a seasoned talent management program manager, skilled in helping clients successfully complete large scale global talent management transformation and technology implementation projects. He has lead teams on a variety of initiatives that include talent management program management, strategic assessments, requirements definition, system selection and system implementation.

Topics: Succession Planning, Talent Management, Learning and Development