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A Win-Win Strategy to Attract Candidates, Build Retention, and Eliminate Skill-Gaps

By Rosanna Nadeau, writer
Jan 09, 2017
> Human Resources

In North America, only 12% of major corporations have actually developed and are deploying Talent Management strategies, according to Right Management’s survey report, “The Struggle Over Talent Management”.

Talent Management is a behemoth, typically including a wide range of strategic employment activity such as anticipating future-needed skills and knowledge, recruitment, employee and leadership development, management of high potentials and succession planning. Included also are systems to manage these activities. Talent Management is linked to the business strategy, is housed in Human Resources and requires participation by managers across the organization in order to be effectively executed. And, as we know, the road to strategy execution is usually rough.

3 Priority Talent Management functions are real hotspots today:

  1. Recruitment continues to be expensive for organizations, with costs not just for finding and attracting candidates but also including investing in developing new hire capability to perform in your unique work environment.
  2. Turnover has its own set of costs, such as re-distribution work and downstream ripples even to customers. Millennials change jobs about every 2 years, a fact noted in many articles in Forbes, CNNMoney, MSNMoney, Philadelphia Business Journal and many other publications. Per Ruchika Tulshyan in her Forbes Article, “Millennials and the Innovator’s Dilemma”, millennials are looking for learning and advancement and expect to have as many as 14 jobs by the time they hit age 40. To many of us, that sounds like a lot of job changes. But, it’s really not so different from prior generations. Baby Boomers averaged a job change about every 2 years and held an average of 11 jobs by the time they reached their 40s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. A lack of qualified candidates due to Skill Gaps that have continued to enlarge during the recession is one of the major challenges facing employers, per Payscale’s Annual Compensation Best Practices Report. And, we are convinced that today’s skill-gaps are flags that this situation will likely persist into the future. The majority of today’s businesses are un/under-equipped to develop future-needed knowledge and skills enterprise-wide.

I believe these 3 hotspots are largely the unintended consequences of management decisions made during the recession.Management’s actions demonstrated to people the fact that they must manage their own careers, because companies will do what is best for “business” (the bottom line) including downsizing, freezing salaries, reducing hours and pay, cutting training and development from budgets, and focusing on tasks, goals and efficiencies to the exclusion of people-leadership. Trust has been lost, and must be re-built. These were tough choices made reactively to the economic conditions leaders were required to navigate, and I’m convinced that leaders did their best to sustain their businesses in these never-before-experienced times.

Based on Right Management’s survey, 88% of major businesses have not yet made Talent Management the high priority for action that most appear to believe it should be. Therefore, lack of planning strategically for needed knowledge and skills will continue to hobble efforts leaders may make today to develop employees’ knowledge and skills for the future.Therefore, the skill gaps that have resulted from management’s recession-driven practices will likely continue to widen and deepen into the future.

We as leaders have tremendous challenges ahead in order to resolve these issues and deal with the hotspots we now face as we begin the recovery, moving out of recession and into growth. Win-win solutions can drive our success.

Given the complexity and the enormity of developing and executing a Talent Management Strategy aligned with the business strategy, it is up to us as leaders to focus on progress, by selecting and tackling do-able initiatives that can drive the greatest possible positive impact. I am convinced that Career-pathing is one such transformational initiative that can have positive impact, short and long term, on Recruitment, Retention and Skill Gaps.

What do I mean by “career-pathing” and how could it help business leaders with these big challenges? Career-pathing is both a strategic tool and a process, developed by H.R. in partnership with managers, that provides departmental and cross-functional job moves that, collectively, build knowledge and skills needed for an employee to qualify for an identified position-goal. For instance, a goal might be to progress over the next year or two from an Assembler to a Field Technician or from a Sales Representative to a Business Development Manager. Career paths typically zig-zag, including both lateral and upward moves that provide an employee with experience, learning, skill mastery and advancement opportunities.

There can be several career paths crossing or originating from an employee’s current position, providing career options for an employee that align with the business strategy, targeting needs anticipated by the business. Using career paths, managers can work with employees to manage their learning, performance and career plans within the company. Career-pathing is not an isolated process. Employee performance in any position on a career path is managed and evaluated just the same as in any organizational position – with regular feedback, progress updates, coaching, support and performance reviews. An employee’s actual job performance can cause changes in career goals whether or not a career path is in place.

Career-pathing is a strategy that can help build your organization’s brand, attracting candidates. By linking development and careers to the business’ future the organization can build engagement and retention, and following through with promotions from within builds trust. And, career-pathing helps to provide a vehicle for organizations to develop people strategically. Using the business strategy as the cornerstone for a career-pathing initiative can help managers and H.R. to work together to plan future job content, required qualifications, on-the-job training, development programs and educational options to ensure the organization has the right skills at the right time.

While career paths take time to create and implement, an organization can start by reviewing the business strategy, current high potentials, and current openings, to identify the best starting points.

Is your organization focused on recruiting, retention and/or filling skill gaps? What is being done to drive success and improvement in Talent Management? Have you experienced career-pathing? Please share your experience, opinions and knowledge.

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Rosanna Nadeau
Rosanna Nadeau
See Rosanna Nadeau's Profile
We are problem-solvers. We assist clients in optimizing organization performance, using specialized tools and internal research to build a framework for improving operating effectiveness, efficiency and profitability. We work closely with each client, assessing needs and tailoring services to fit individual organization needs. Our results are measured using our clients' organizational metrics. Our related specialties include leadership and management development, employee development, and human resources management services such as recruiting, employee relations, compliance and safety. As the Principal and primary consultant, my qualifications include the following: - Bachelor of Science Degree, Education - 3 Professional certifications: SPHR, SHRM-SPC, and Prana Certified Partner in Strategy Execution - 20+ years experience including consulting and regular leadership roles in Human Resources, in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, technology, services, non-profit, chemical, metalworking, plastics, paper and more. My base of experience provides an uncommon perspective and approach to building organization performance, one that is people-centered, data focused and custom tailored to make a difference for each client. Contact me for information or a free initial consultation at 603-878-1546 or
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