‘Best practice’ is damaging talent management, says KPMG

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talentA rigid attachment to ‘best practice’, rather than a focus on business needs, is preventing many organisations from unearthing and nurturing staff to drive their business forward.  The danger of such an inflexible approach is also killing organisations’ ability to properly manage talent, according to KPMG’s UK Lead for Talent.

Presenting her views in a white paper called ‘Tune in to Talent,’ Anna Marie Detert argues that organisations are failing to adjust their approach or match it to their unique requirements, leaving executives frustrated and concerned.  The impact on Boardroom confidence in HR tactics is confirmed in a study published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and KPMG, in which fewer than 1 in 4 CEOs and directors accepted that their HR department excels at ‘sourcing key talent’ or ‘preparing for a changing workforce’.

Detert suggests that the tendency to copy or adopt the latest fad or fancy must be challenged if businesses are to understand the talent they truly need to succeed, and plan effectively to find and keep it.  She says: “All too often, companies dive straight in, implementing the latest best practice recruitment, development or performance system or process.  Instead, they need to stand back and ask some searching questions about what talent their particular business needs now and in the future.”

In the paper, she identifies four key groups of questions HR teams should ask, before scoping a talent strategy.  These are:

strategic talent requirements: revolving around what kinds of skills will help the business succeed, how many staff are needed and where they should be based

– talent risks: based on an assessment of what the key talent risks are facing the organisation,  and including analysis of succession planning, key person dependency and mobility risks

– return on investment: exploring what the business has learned about which kind of ‘talent interventions’ deliver the best RoI and examining whether success is better achieved through growing talent or buying it

talent governance & infrastructure:  identifying what infrastructure exists to manage data on talent and the culture and governance in place to encourage and enable career moves and secondments.

Detert suggests that asking and answering these four key questions will ensure that any talent plan is tailored, and is unique to the business it is designed for.  She concludes: “By fully understanding the current and future business context – by tuning in to talent – HR teams can assemble the right elements of a talent approach, and create a unique talent playlist- one which captures the character, culture and mood of their specific business.”

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