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?


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