As a leader at an IT organization, your first priority is successfully developing your IT product or services. Yet you might find yourself hindered by poor performing programs, or employees who are ill equipped to execute your vision.
One way to infer that your organization isn’t spending the time and effort necessary on talent management is if your employees say (or think) any of the following statements:
- “My manager doesn’t talk to me about development and career opportunities.”
- “I don’t have time to go to training or an educational event.”
- “My performance review is late; it must mean my manager doesn’t care.”
- “It hasn’t been communicated to me what skills and capabilities I need to meet the new strategies.”
- “I don’t know what career paths are available to me here, so I need to look elsewhere to advance.”
Another clue is if you’ve heard one of these comments from management, or even said it yourself:
- “Our programs and projects are failing because we don’t have the right people.”
- “We don’t have anyone to take on this exciting new initiative because all the talented IT employees are already dedicated.”
- “Our turnover is too high.”
- “I would like to promote this person, but there is no one who can replace them.”
- “We spend too much time and energy on the few poor performers and not enough on our high potential individuals.”
Talent management describes a set of processes that an organization uses to govern their current and future human capital needs, and what they do to meet those needs. These processes include strategic workforce planning, recruiting, capability and competency management, development, succession management, career management, performance management, and rewards.
An HR department may define or support the implementation of some or all of these processes. Whether or not that is the case, the leadership of an IT organization must focus on its greatest asset: its people.
Why Is Talent Management Important to an IT Organization?
Business performance: Studies find that there is a strong correlation between superior talent and better business performance. A 2007 Hackett Group study found organizations that excel at managing talent posted earnings 15% higher than their peers.
Value creation: The Brookings Institution found in 1982 that 62% of a company’s value was due to its physical assets (plant and equipment) while 38% was attributed to intangible assets (IP, brand and mostly people). In 2003, this completely changed, with 80% of value driven by intangible assets (i.e. people).
Labor market: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech industry unemployment hovered at 2.6 percent in December 2015. The basic economics of supply and demand tell us, as if we didn’t already know, that it is harder today to find and keep great IT talent. Without a mature talent management process, you are inviting your best and brightest to leave.
Employees: What people want out of their job has also changed in recent years. Employees want meaningful and challenging work, are more dedicated to their professions, and are less interested in traditional structures. One only has to read Drive by Daniel Pink* to understand that “purpose, autonomy and mastery” are the key elements motivating professionals today. These three aspects can all be improved by a mature talent management process.
*If you haven’t seen “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” yet, drop everything and watch this:
How to Improve Your Talent Management Processes
Talent doesn’t just happen. The best practices for improving talent in your IT organization are:
Strategy: Talent management must tightly align with the organization’s strategy. After all, organizational success hinges on having the right talent in place at the right time to achieve strategic objectives.
Leadership: The CIO and their leadership team must be active, systematic, inclusive, transparent and drive the talent management process deep into the IT organization. In addition, the leadership team must have a continuous improvement mindset. It is important to change talent management processes that are not making a difference and expand those that are showing results. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Investment: There is a core set of processes that are universal for all your employees. These would include performance management, rewards and development. However, IT leadership should focus more of their efforts on the future leaders and individual performers who are value creators.
Process: Because talent management is made up of multiple processes, an IT process owner(s) should be identified to initiate, facilitate, monitor and improve each process. The process owner is responsible for managing the process, while the IT leadership team is accountable for their outcomes.
Technology: As IT professionals, we are always looking for software to solve our problems. Though helpful, in this case a software solution is far less important than getting started on implementing processes. Start examining processes now, and if and when you truly need software to get to the next level take care of it then.
Make Talent Management Improvements an Ongoing Process
For those of you who have a mature set of talent management process and have achieved great outcomes, don’t stop now—look for areas for continuous improvement. For those who haven’t invested the time, get going now before it is too late.
If you are on the IT leadership team, sell the benefits of implementing talent management processes to your peers. If you are not part of the leadership team, talk to your colleagues and, together, talk to your manager about why this is important.
Talent management is not easy. It takes time, commitment and consistent focus from leadership. It doesn’t always show immediate rewards. But the benefits are proven and are now, more than ever, essential for hiring and retaining the best people in a competitive landscape.’