My favourite mistake

All of you know by now that every blog ends with a piece of music. A song that captures the blog, or tries to, even if only by the title. Usually I start looking for a song late in the writing process. Today is an exception. While I was scribbling some thoughts, trying to explore some alternative views on Global Talent Management, the title of this song kept haunting me to the extent that I promoted it to the title of this text. As usual, you will find the music at the end of the blog. It serves as the alfa and omega of this blog.

When I think of Global Talent Management, I think along several longitudinal lines, like global standards versus local adaptation; or talent as understood by US-centric companies versus Japanese or French; or how to balance the individual versus the organization versus the context in which the organization operates; or how inclusive or elitist TM philosophies can or should be; or what strategy, structure and culture versus norms and values for TM means; or simply how diversity management intersects with TM. This and many more cross my mind.

Let me explore some of these axes.

On an individual level, GTM stand for acquiring skills and social, human, corporate and other forms of capital that augment personal competencies and business value. It allows the individual to take on a more complex, better valued, mostly managerial position across borders. If you’re not this type of individual, there’s a strong chance that TM passes you by. If you’re a technical or operational employee, you’re likely to be excluded from GTM processes. There is always the exception confirming the rule.

On an organizational level, GTM must be understood in the context of the company’s strategic capabilities: GTM relates to the strategy, the structure, the culture and the execution capabilities of the company. In short, the company is aiming through GTM to maximize the talent of those employees who are a proven source of competitive advantage and who are occupying critical positions. These 5% to 10% differentiators, these people who make a difference, are part of the GTM processes. Some companies trie to ensure that most if not all employees are aligned with the strategy, support the performance-driven culture and execute flawlessly. They might even have strong talent sitting in non-differentiating roles.

On a contextual level, GTM stands for practices that transcend organizations, networks, nationalities and sectors. It focuses on more than organizational performance. It aims to address societal issues, like diversity and inclusion. The concepts carry a different meaning in a different culture. Diversity as a concept will be very differently understood by a multicultural workforce than just getting to 40% of female employees in managerial roles. Ethnic minorities will define diversity totally differently. Same with the concept talent: while some cultures view this as potential, others limit talent to proven performance.

A specific issue that lies close to my heart is for GTM to solve the global abundance but local scarcity of talent. This is truly a global issue: in emerging economies where talent development is outpaced by the sheer growth as well as in established economies where the baby boomers are leaving the workplace in drones. More diverse, remote or virtual workforces might not suffice.

Global Talent management is clearly not the management of talented employees. Nor is it the management of talent of all employees. It is also not limited to managing skilled individuals expected to fill key managerial positions. It’s also more than cultural fit or shared values.It’s more than expatriation and job assignments. GTM is a complex construct. It relates to individuals, organizations, cultures, values and norms within an evolving context where alignment leads to employee engagement, company growth and societal improvement.

So, is overestimating TM my favorite mistake?


Tomorrow’s HR department will look radically different part 2

In a previous blog, I stated a new paradigm for HR had arrived:

HR’s prime goal in life is to enrich and optimise the network in terms of talent and output.

Let’s start with defining network. Companies today are no longer the sum of their employees, managers, executive committee and board, working with suppliers and customers. They are much more. They are citizens of a global village, competitors in a hyper-connected world, impacting economies and humanity alike. The symbiotic relationship between businesses, digital and daily life is transforming our environment in its broadest sense into a networked future. The traditional dividing lines like countries, industry-sectors, legal frameworks, cultures, languages, time-zones, scale, speed and so many others too numerous to mention, are fading. Companies will succumb and adapt to an interwoven network of opportunity and threat, where a competitor is a partner and vice versa at the same time. The network will set the company’s agenda and strategy, replacing the traditional stakeholders.

This is happening as you read. You might argue this is old news. The world of business has always followed Darwin’s laws and will continue to do so. Adapt, mutate or be extinct. All I’m saying is that the business biosphere is continuously transforming and that fight or flight not really an option is anymore. There’s only fight. There’s nowhere to hide in the global village.

Defining talent in this paradigm has become more complex: talents are masters of networks. Talent turns the network into a competitive advantage for the company and themselves. Today’s global talent is self-conscious and will only work for a company if there is a strong return on investment. Alignment between these 2 objectives is paramount. Loyalty to one company from the employee perspective may equal missing out on reaching one’s full potential. It also threatens to leave the employee condemned to an ever-diminishing market value. Talents however stay loyal to networks. And this is where talent acquisition needs to play.

This vital business function needs to acquire masters of the network who share the company’s objectives, culture and values. This requires an in-depth industry and business knowledge together with professional assessment capabilities. Understanding where and how to find the talent in the network, coupled with assessing current skills and potential is what most professional talent acquisition teams today aspire to do. Together with the hiring manager, potentially the HR business partner and why not a consulting third-party, they form a comprehensive team.

But this is not enough. The real challenge is to become an integral part of the industry talent network in order to pro-actively influence this network and benefit from the network. Not only will the acquisition team need to find the adaptive, innovative, fast-decision making industry leaders with a network of equally talented associates, it will also need to dominate the network. Recruiters will not just hire 1 person for 1 job, but select, groom and grow a rich and multi-layered professional network to continue to recruit from. The war for talent has become a war for the network.

Let’s take mobile payments for example. Total mobile online retail payments are expected to grow from $75.8 billion to $217.4 billion at a 23 percent compounded annual growth rate between 2014 and 2019, according to Javelin’s Mobile Online Retail Payments Forecast. These numbers are up for debate but what’s certain is that only the companies dominating the mobile payments talent network will potentially capture this market and achieve the predicted growth. Companies with a traditional talent acquisition approach will be outpaced and lose out.