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MIT Sloan’s 5 Steps to Filling the Talent Gap

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Sloan’s take of the talent gap is a bit different that the one we usually talk about.  Instead of the impending crisis in the U.S. from all the retiring baby boomer’s Sloan instead identifies the troubles that global companies face from not being able to develop leaders abroad, or not having the leaders domestically ready to take on international assignments.

Within the article, they identify several tactics that could be applied to any talent shortage whether it’s a domestic or international one.

1. Make Your Talent Plan Match Your Business Plan Successful companies understand and exploit the capabilities that let them provide unique value to their customers. Your talent-management initiatives should focus on building those capabilities among your employees.  ((Ready, Douglass and Conger, Jay.  September 14, 2007.  “How to Fill the Talent Gap.” Retrieved from on October 1, 2007.))

This should be a no-brainer.  However, too many of our recruiting organizations are still reactionary to hiring managers, and our performance processes targeted towards generic goals rather than organization specific competencies.  Ready and Conger are right, this area needs more attention.

2. Talent Management is Everyone’s Job Human resources has an important role to play in recruiting and retaining employees. But the commitment should extend through the entire company. The best-in-class firms that we examined had talent processes that were marked by deep commitment, high levels of engagement and widespread accountability among senior leaders, line managers, human resources and the talent prospects themselves.  ((Ibid))

Perhaps some of the new Web 2.0 talent applications we’ve been talking about like Taleo and Workstream will help here.  It’s really about change management and adoption here, but the overall user experience plays heavily into this.  With a great user experience, the entire process and the ability to see results becomes much easier.  In effect, behavioral change is one step closer throughout the organization.

3. Global Excellence Needs Local Effectiveness If a company wants a rich and diverse flow of talent in its core operation, it must begin with well-crafted and efficient hiring and development practices in its local branches. In other words, if your company can effectively recruit and nurture employees at the local level, and then feed them into the core operation, diversity will happen naturally — without the need for special outreach efforts.  ((Ibid))

4. Support Matters Forget the “cream rises to the top” theory of leadership development. Even a company’s highest-potential employees need help in taking on the challenges they will face with new assignments. Provide them with frequent coaching and feedback, connect them with one another so they can share concerns and best practices, and offer executive-education opportunities that will supplement their skills and perspectives.  ((Ibid))

5. Measure What Matters Establish a set of metrics for talent development, linking them to your company’s strategic objectives whenever possible. For instance, measure how well the company retains key employees and high-potential ones, and frequently assess those who are in line to fill crucial assignments. And when you notice things are off course or simply not working, don’t be afraid to change them. Don’t make your talent-management processes a series of bureaucratic routines.    ((Ibid))

Consultants and talent vendors have been saying this for a good while now.  By identifying the specific competencies that matter and figuring out a way to measure them, you create a meaningful talent process.  There are a lot of critical ingredients to talent, and this is one of them.  If you’re measuring carelessly, then you’re just wasting your time.

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