Hanna Consultant Group



Much has recently been written regarding the challenge to attract, retain and develop talent.
For many companies talent management still remains an uphill battle. A 2010 survey by Marc Effron1, claims that only 18% of companies claim to be winning the war for talent. According to the Business Performance Management Forum (BPM) survey2, 77.5% of respondents reported they take longer than ever to find good employees. Considering the fact that companies spend significant financial and other resources to make talent management happen, it is demoralizing to know that very few of companies' well designed processes translate into success stories.


Leaders, HR and management teams jointly just need to get this right, because you achieve
goals through people - the right people. It speaks to reason that investing in people with
potential, getting people in jobs they're wired to do, having a committed and engaged workforce and growing people into more challenging positions will no doubt result in bottom-line figures. Research also backs up that talent is one of the critical factors that separate high performance companies from the rest and such higher earnings may mean millions of Dollars.


Given the above picture, what is behind the talent shortage? It would obviously be difficult to
pinpoint specific reasons that would apply to the business market as a whole. However, in order to get closer to the bottom of the talent shortage in general, the following are certainly some of the main reasons and trends contributing to the scarcity of high potentials in North America:

_ Retirement of ‘Baby Boomers', who filled a lot of leadership positions and who
represented a significant percentage of the economic workforce.

_ New skills sets required by the knowledge economy and also as a result of fast change
and technological advancement.

_ Until recently, Talent Management was not always taken seriously enough and some
companies have been taken by surprise with regard to skills shortages.

_ Research shows that the Talent Management concept is not always understood well and, consequently, talent isn't always managed well.

_ In North America, ADA (CLA) was probably initially viewed as a compliance matter and hasn't always been approached with the seriousness it deserves.

_ Due to the so-called ‘brain-drain' a lot of talent got lost for the local formal business sector.

_ More and more talented people are trying to secure a business venture for themselves and look at entrepreneurship as a solution.

_ Due to frequent recessions and political change, some of the younger generation did
not see a future for themselves and haven't invested in studies and their careers as much as they should have done.

_ In certain professions such as that of engineers and technicians the educational
system has probably failed us in the sense that not enough has been invested to promote education in the natural sciences and related careers.

_ During times of restructuring many companies reduce their workforces so much that it almost cut through to the bone and they suffer a scarcity of talent when the economy rebounds.

_ There is fierce competition in various segments of the market and companies are
competing for the same scarce talent, etc.


Fact is that companies will probably not succeed in changing the situation into a favourable one in the short term. But it is definitely worth getting your house in order since competitors can copy almost anything you do, but replicating a highly talented, well-motivated and fully engaged workforce is almost impossible.

What could be done to turn the situation around? Many lessons have been learned over the last number of years. The following are a critical few of the things that could form pillars and lay a solid foundation for successful Talent Management in the years to come:

Culture. A culture of a talent-driven company should be established. Executives must be
totally committed to a well integrated, - coordinated and -implemented program and it must be high on the agenda.

Time lines. Talent management should be treated as a long term program where following
through will eventually create talent pools, pipelines, learning, development and growth
that impacts the business results.

Strategic alignment. Talent Management plans should be dynamic. The responsible
Executive/s and HR should stay on top of the process and talent plans should continually be
aligned with demands and strategic changes.

Capacity. As custodians of business, Senior Line Managers should be deeply involved in
finding and growing talent and they should therefore be capacitated to do so.

HR's role. As stewards of the process, HR should ensure a simple and effective solution
that is well-adopted throughout the company. HR should add value and make it easy for Line to participate.

Individualized approach. The talent management solution should be differentiated.
Smith and Cantrell suggest that ‘each employee should be treated as a workforce of one'3.
People who have a bigger impact on success should be treated differently and the reward and recognition system must also provide for it. Talent pool to include ‘A' and ‘B' players. Both ‘A' and ‘B' players need to be included in the talent pool. Too much emphasis on stars and neglecting the 55 to 70 percent of capable, steady performers may negatively impact on long term sustainability.

Diversification. Companies need to have talented people representing the customers
they serve. Diversity of talent is as important as diversity of culture, gender, race, religion, etc4. The ADA (CLA) agenda should be driven in the North American context with the right intentions.

Manage needs and people. Talent must be clearly defined so that companies know what
they are looking for. It include identification of key, scarce or future skills and knowledge
required by critical jobs, identification of potential replacements for these jobs and
identification of top performers and targeting them for retention, succession planning and
career development.

Equal focus on attraction, retention and development of talent. It is as important to
retain people as it is to attract them and company culture should assist in retaining high
potentials. The company should also provide high potentials with ample and appropriate
opportunities to develop their careers and empower themselves. Disproportionate focus
between attraction, development and retention will result in talent shortages.


A simple, appropriately designed and well adopted talent management solution will mean
that companies take proactive steps which will, within reasonable limits, help them to be in
control of demand for talent. It will take time, effort and resources but the excellent ROI will
make it a worthwhile exercise.

1. Anders, George. (March 29, 2010). Today's Biggest Talent-Management Challenges.
2. O'Callaghan, Andre. (November 2008). Talent Management Review.
3. Smith, David and Cantrell, Susan M. (2010). A workforce of one. June 2010 edition of Outlook.
4. Thomas, David A. (2004). Diversity as Strategy. Harvard Business Review, pg 1 to 10.


One of Rafik Hanna's areas of specialization is Talent Management. He is also an Organization Development Specialist, Executive Coach and a Business Turn Around Specialist. Rafik is the founder-member and lead consultant of Hanna Consulting Group, and The Power Management Tools Seminars. For assistance Rafik could be contacted on 1-514-594-8626 or you can send an email to rafikhanna7@aol.com

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