August 01, 2015

Connect. Collaborate. Create

Over the past few years, talent management strategies have evolved, with the focus switching from talent as an audience to talent as a community. Strategic HR organizations are realizing that a single source of talent is not enough, especially with the increasingly competitive global war for talent. Similarly, utilizing only the traditional means of finding talent or waiting for candidates to approach the company is no longer the best talent strategy.

Often when discussing talent communities, organizations focus on talent acquisition and the recruiting of candidates via networks. While this is a very important and growing method of sourcing talent, there is also a need to focus on identifying and sourcing internal and known talent from within the organization. This includes current workers, or workers that have performed successfully on past projects and engagements.

The Ecosystem Has Changed

A combination of macro-economic factors, internal organizational dynamics, and changes in attitudes and approach to careers has resulted in a new environment for recruiting organizations. Savvy HR professionals and managers realize that globalization has had a major impact on sourcing talent, especially with the growing array of technology solutions that allow workers to be anywhere in the world and still contribute productively. Similarly, organizations themselves are slowly transforming from hierarchies to networks.

In the traditional approach to talent management, the organization was set up as a hierarchy with a logical fixed structure that was overseen by a CEO. The flow of talent is mostly upwards with a focus on a few key people identified as being suitable to fill executive roles. Today, however, many organizations are based on networks or projects. Here reporting lines are less clear since the organization is set up to respond quickly to market volatility, which may demand different sets of skills. A specialist in one part of the organization may work with another specialist somewhere else in order to successfully deliver a project, product, or service. Often these roles are filled by highly skilled workers who may be overlooked in a succession plan or talent pool.

From Organizational Hierarchies to Organizational Networks

From Organizational Hierarchies to Organizational Networks

Source: BLS

This new environment cannot be characterized as a top-down approach or a bottom-up approach. Rather, it is an enterprise-wide, 360-degree initiative that strives to ensure that the right talented workers are readily available wherever and whenever they are needed. 

How to Create a Collaborative Talent Ecosystem?

In order for a community-based collaborative approach to talent management to be successful, executives and managers must consider various priorities.

Insight and Application: It’s important to apply intelligence drawn from labor market data and relate it to the business context. For example, a shortage of technology skills in one geographical location may lead to alternative approaches to product design and development such as using a different geographical location, working with development partners, or engaging skilled contractors who may be remote. This involves ensuring that the topic of talent is ingrained in the conversation about business strategy and operational management. Talent issues should be considered strategic issues, so that the talent agenda becomes a vital part of the business agenda.

Buy-In: In order for talent management using a collaborative approach to work, the organization’s stakeholders must realize that talent is a non-hierarchical, inclusive concept. This means that supervisors and managers have to look outside the traditional succession plan to identify the different facets of talent and skills that they have on their teams, and be willing to allocate these resources on cross-functional projects. Equally important, workers need to recognize the opportunities that exist outside of their immediate job function, and take ownership and responsibility for their own career paths.

Workforce Mobility: To build a successful talent community, workforce mobility is important. Workers should be provided with the tools and resources they need to be able to work on cross-functional and cross-business unit teams successfully to build innovative and creative products, services, and solutions.

Enable Connections: The value of a true talent community is in the communication and connections of its members. This goes beyond just reading about company culture or receiving alerts about job openings, to sharing information and professional knowledge and connecting with fellow workers across the organization. The goal of the company in getting started should be to create a community that is engaged enough to share their personalized experiences. This may include curating content and engaging the talent community with relevant articles and conversation-starters.