Leading With Talent

By Jayamalini Ramaratnam, Director & Head - Human Resources, CBRE


Jayamalini Ramaratnam, Director & Head - Human Resources, CBRE

An HR Professional with over 18 years experience, Jayamalini Core professional expertise lies in the ability to design and implement sustainable people strategies & interventions aligned to business needs.

In today’s constantly evolving business world, all the organizations look for opportunities to maximize their performance and competitiveness. The one overwhelmingly critical factor which makes all the difference is ‘Talent’. Organizations which repeatedly deliver superior performance are those who have talent with multidimensional strengths.

With globalization & technology advancements changing the corporate landscape, the workplace and how work is done have radically changed. The organizations have become flatter and hierarchical structures are declining, thereby emphasizing the need to increase speed and engagement. Career and social contracts with employees have changed, with employees demanding rapid career growth, flexible work places, purpose and increased earnings. Hence, talent management needs to start right from the time an organization starts engaging with its potential employees at the hiring stage, and continue through the employee lifecycle.

To strategically build human capital, following are the key mantras that successful organizations have embedded:

Invest Time on Your ‘Talent Strategy’

One of the most critical aspects that Business and HR leaders focus on is a well thought-out Talent Strategy, i.e., knowing what kind of talent is needed at different levels, identifying the best talent sources, and most importantly, estimating the cost of acquiring and retaining relevant talent that is aligned with the organization’s profitability and productivity goals. Ultimately, winning organizations are those that can effectively corroborate their talent needs along with their business strategies.

Businesses looking to attract & retain the best employees need to make strategic decisions not just about who they hire, but when, where and where from. Global performance leaders have three things in common - they invest in intellectual assets, play in fast-growing markets, and have the most-efficient operations. That could mean setting-up operations in locations where top talent is most likely to want to live, work and play.

“The key imperative for talent management to be effective is the active sponsorship and ongoing attention of an organization’s leadership”

The organizations who have got their talent strategy right, ensure a diversified talent mix; for example, fresher hires to build a future pipeline, lateral hires from related sectors or even talent from completely unrelated industries, but who can fix an elusive skill gap. The mix of employees would also depend on the growth ambitions of the organization, its stage of evolution, and this would need to be reviewed periodically for the organization to stay relevant and competitive.

With social media taking center stage and employees being the best brand ambassadors, the organizations invest in employee referral programmes, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and others, which are not only efficient sources of hiring, but also great employer branding avenues. Recruiters also use varied tools for selection, be it aptitude/ability tests, psychometric assessments, or focused interviewing methodologies to ensure that cultural fit is assessed, it being a critical factor for longevity of talent. Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are also impacting hiring efficiencies positively.

Know Your Talent & Customize Your Approach

Every individual who brings her/his unique contribution is ‘Talent’ and not just the select ‘Hi-Potentials’ who display capability, aspiration and engagement to grow beyond their current roles. Successful organizations have robust processes to assess and identify their different talent types and provide them with options to address their diverse needs with respect to work, engagement, recognition, learning and growth avenues. For instance, a solid citizen’s experience could be used for mentoring younger team members and the energy of a Hi-Pot for tackling a challenging assignment, ensuring that this serves to energize both equally, though in different ways.

Address Employee Experience Holistically

Employee experience is becoming increasingly important for HR, with Culture, Leadership, Career Development & Learning taking precedence over Salary and Benefits. Creating rich experiences for employees around careers, culture, compensation and benefits, and balancing the different elements make it difficult for talent to migrate.

Employees today expect clarity of goals, challenging work, access to information, real time honest feedback, and timely recognition. They are more accepting of feedback even if it is critical or negative. It is hence not surprising that successful companies incorporate multirater feedback not just for performance assessments, but also for talent development and succession planning. The biggest value addition that feedback brings is that it reinforces transparency and fairness in the organization, and learning at an individual level, which employee’s value.

Build a Learning Culture

It is becoming imperative for organizations to develop a learning culture if they wish to stay in business. With increasing automation, some traditional jobs are becoming defunct and roles that are emerging require quick thinking, creativity, high social and emotional intelligence. This makes the ability of an organization to learn, more important than ever.

Progressive organizations deploy a blended learning approach, encouraging learning via ‘on the job’ stretch assignments, swap & share programs, cross-functional projects, and mentoring & coaching opportunities, in addition to educational trainings. Learning technology platforms are also being increasingly invested in and utilized, as a value adding means to embed self-paced learning.

The key imperative for talent management to be effective is the active sponsorship and ongoing attention of an organization’s leadership. For that, top leaders need to invest in creating engaged leaders who in turn build engaged teams under them. The organizations who lead with talent clearly articulate attraction and retention of talent as a strategic priority, and are the ones who employees will best describe as a place where you can do great things, while having a great time.

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