Managing talent is never easy, but it’s a lot more doable with information. Employee surveys are one way of figuring out what’s happening. They add to what managers discover through their direct contact with employees. They give a quantified, structured picture of attitudes and engagement across a larger group.
Talent management becomes more important as a company’s workforce becomes more sophisticated. A few key qualities determine a workforce’s sophistication. First, companies must compete more vigorously in recruiting people with highly sought education and experience. A second factor is the time and effort required to bring a new recruit up to full performance levels. In some occupations, a well-educated recruit can perform fine immediately upon starting a position; in others, it takes years to get a newbie up to speed. A third important factor for talent management is the extent to which employees differ in their performance levels and the extent to which those differences have implications for the companies’ financial performance. If your company has stars that perform a step above the others, it’s important to know how to keep them. If that difference in individual performance drives differences in organizational performance, it’s really important to keep them.
A recent survey identified clear differences between high and low performing companies in the extent to which they employed and attended to talent management. The important metrics were how frequently high-performing employee quit, ROI per employee, and time to full productivity. These measures tell companies the urgency of their talent situation. Keeping hard-to-replace talent requires companies to stay current on employees’ concerns.
Assuming that top talent will stay present and engaged out of inertia or reasonable compensation neglects some basic human qualities in the business world. First, talented people constantly scan the world for new challenges to develop their capacity and open new opportunities. Secondly, companies compete for uncommon and valued resources. These two forces together justify a defensive strategy of monitoring possibilities for inroads by the competition as well as a progressive strategy of anticipating qualities that will bring out the best in the available talent.
Does talent make a difference in your company?
Is senior management on top of what matters to employees?