Talent Retention and Succession Planning and Other Talent Management Tools

Talent Retention

At this point, it should be evident that your business will be putting in a substantial amount of time, money, energy, and other resources into securing and developing the talent that is going to help your company achieve its goals. Of course, you do not want to have put so much investment into someone who will then turn around and leave, voiding the work you have put in as well as wasting precious resources. Although you cannot always control the decisions made by your staff, and there are many legitimate reasons a member of your talent may have to leave, there are also things you can do in order to help improve your talent retention.

When an employee comes to you, threatening to leave the company, that is certainly a poor time to begin your efforts aimed at retaining your talent. Supervisors and mentors who assume employed talent is satisfied are doing a huge disservice to their company. Moreover, supervisors and managers who do not care about an employee's happiness or job satisfaction are only going to create a negative atmosphere for everyone involved, including the talent. When companies operate on the status quo and do not continue to pursue a better standard of employment they are destined for failure. Therefore, consider it necessary that you make an effort to retain your staff on a daily basis while also assessing potential problems on a schedule (quarterly, for example).

If you find yourself unclear as to why employee retention is so important to the success of your business, you may not be noticing the connections between the work atmosphere, employee retention, training costs, and job dissatisfaction, including dissatisfaction among those individuals who have been working for the company all along. When an employee leaves a company, other employees must contribute to ensure that operations continue until that position is filled. This activity alone can put stress on existing staff, especially if their efforts are unnoticed or are not rewarded.
If the employee that left did so because of poor management, the remaining staff is even more likely to be negatively affected because the increase of work they are expected to take on is the result of bad management. Moreover, particularly in instances where management is part of the problem, the exit of one employee often results in the exit of others. Whether it is because that employee has moved to a new position where they can hire their former coworkers, that staff realizes there are better opportunities elsewhere, or simply they are tired of putting up with crap, the end result is the same. You end up with a shortage of workers and the potential for problems explodes.

In addition to the damage done to employee morale, if business operations decreased at all, that translates into decreased income through lack of sales, services, or whatever it is that your business provides. Then, you and your staff have to go through the evaluation, job posting, and interview process all over again, further using up your valuable time and energy. Then, assuming a suitable replacement has been found, they must be trained to take over for the talent you have lost. While some of this training may simply cost you the time necessary for the training and onboarding, there is likely to be additional monetary expense necessary to train those in talent positions. Further, any type of certification, continuing education, or other necessary activities that cost your business have to be paid for again for the new person just as it was for the old person. All of these costs add up rapidly even when based only on the loss of one member of your talent staff. Employee turnover is a nightmare for regular positions, much less talent and leadership positions.

Therefore, it is hoped that you understand why it is so critical to keep talent, especially when your talent is performing well within their job. Being transparent with your talent, especially about the potential for their upward mobility within the company, can be hugely important in keeping your talent motivated and attached to your company. Performing onboarding and ongoing engagement will help your talent become rooted in the interests of the company as well as their own career development. Providing positive feedback and positive reinforcement will help your talent become better at their job and feel appreciated and respected for what they bring to the table. Moreover, the best part is that these tasks, which may seem overwhelming at first, can easily be performed on a daily basis with just a few words as long as you are sure to keep doing it regularly. Becoming complacent about your staff will only result in your staff becoming complacent or dissatisfied with your company.

Assuming that your talent feels invested in the company, believes the company to be invested in them, and they are receiving positive reinforcement, their likelihood of job satisfaction is astronomically improved. However, unfortunately, a person feeling fulfilled in their job does not typically pay the rent. Thus, you must consider other things when it comes to retaining the talent that you have acquired and developed. Consider the following areas that may pose a threat to talent retention.

Salary. Pay your staff fairly for the work that they do and the talent they bring to the table. Do not expect them to be satisfied making the same dollar figure year after year, especially if they are getting the job done and producing results. They may be happy working at your company and you may feel that if they are truly invested in what your business is doing, they should be willing to accept less financially. That is a nice fantasy to have but it is also a very unrealistic one. While there are some people who work for the sheer pleasure of working, the vast majority of people want to enjoy and believe in the work that they are doing but also need to pay the bills and provide for their family. If your company is in dire financial straits and thus cannot afford pay increases (or may even need to decrease salaries), communicate that openly with your staff, especially those in talent and leadership positions. Some of them may not have the choice to stay with your company but they deserve the respect you give by being honest with them and many of them may be willing to wait much longer for a pay raise when they understand the situation.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Talent Management for Business course?

Insurance, 401k, and other monetary benefits. Many companies get by with paying less for their staff by working around the system to deny their employees important monetary benefits. Most companies know to do this within a legal framework; whether or not it is ethical for the company to do so is a much trickier business. For individuals in talent and leadership positions, this should never be an issue, unless you are working with a person who is fully aware and agrees to working with your company on a contract basis. If you have been working with an employee who was considered talent and you continue not to provide them with monetary benefits, you likely will lose them as employees at some point and you can rest assured that your decision was responsible for that consequence.

Time off and non-monetary benefits. Your employees deserve time to be with their families and to relax away from the troubles of your company. Talent and other management or leadership roles usually require extended working hours, high stress environments, and other taxes put on an individual's mental, physical, and emotional health. Your staff is more likely to be productive when they have opportunities for time off and they will certainly be more satisfied working for your company.

Succession Planning

Succession planning is generally considered an integral part of the talent management process. Essentially, succession planning simply means making arrangements in advance to recruit and develop talent when talent positions are vacated. Generally speaking, most succession planning occurs within the existing business; that is why you should be developing talent even among those individuals who are not yet in talent positions but who have the potential to become talent. On occasion, a position cannot be filled internally and outside applicants will be considered. In both instances, it is necessary to make the transition as seamless as possible to mitigate any negative effects on business operations.

The entire talent management process is essentially the same, whether you hire from within or outside of the organization except that the amount of onboarding necessary and the fact that when a position of talent is vacated, there is significantly less planning that has to be done unless the position itself requires review. Succession planning done is merely a shorter and easier process of everything you have learned thus far about talent management.

Current Application of Talent Management

Over the past several years of adverse economic conditions, the talent management landscape has changed in some ways while the overall concept is stronger than ever. Although virtually every business in existence has felt the effect of a weaker economy, many of the companies that have remained ambitious and have taken risks are the ones that have been most successful.

Talent management has gained traction at an increased rate during the recession as more and more companies have had to cut back on the numbers of staff and refocus on more qualified or talented staff. Even mass production companies have learned to embrace the work smarter, not harder approach that talent management embodies. Unfortunately, many companies continue to make the same errors only at increased rates; a lack of emphasis on developing talent with an overemphasis on acquiring it is not doing the business world any favors. Thankfully, that does not have to be the case.

Industry statistics state that only 5 percent of organizations are utilizing a full and operational talent management strategy while another 10 percent have begun to develop their talent management strategy. For organizations that have not yet begun making the change to talent management, there is considerable room for opportunity to find and recruit talent that may be dissatisfied in their current positions with organizations that are not validating or developing their skills. Moreover, increased unemployment coupled with a lack of talent management at the vast majority of companies means that there is a tremendous availability of talent for those companies that are willing to put forth the effort to find it.

Of course, a downturned economy has put an increased and perhaps a disproportionate level of stress on currently working talent. Many employers are looking at their talent to find solutions and some of those employers are becoming impatient when they feel let down by their staff, regardless of whether their expectations were realistic at the start. And while conditions have improved, many employees are still operating in an atmosphere of anxiety about losing their positions and some employers are doing the same. This consequently leads to less innovation and risk taking which can have, unfortunately, a negative effect on the company's chances for growth and success. It is critical for employers to understand that the talent they have hired and developed cannot save the company without giving them some latitude. Otherwise, everyone becomes stifled and fearful.

Outside of the current economic conditions, continuously evolving technology has definitely changed the landscape of talent. In years past, a tremendous value of talent with interpersonal communication and dynamic presence made some individuals less likely to be hired as talent. With technological advancement, more and more individuals who are genuinely talented in a certain area of expertise may be considered talent although they may not necessarily be placed in a leadership position. This genesis is particularly important when considering not only those individuals who are counted as talent because of their technological prowess but also because technology has allowed more people to take on talent roles who may not even be in the same geographic area as the company.

New and ongoing developments in the field of talent management also have been more easily developed and rapidly adapted due to the ease of communicating and sharing information on a large scale basis such as the Internet. One of the most rapidly progressing current themes within talent management is the development of a talent marketplace. The talent marketplace model employs a training and development strategy where talent has the opportunity, within their own company, to choose their own assignments or projects.
This allows each employee the opportunity to explore new fields as they desire, take on new responsibilities that are well within their expertise in area, increase their job satisfaction (consequently increasing your employee retention), and allowing the company opportunities to harness and use the talent it has at its fingertips. The talent marketplace concept is currently in use at some of the most successful companies such as IBM and American Express, but even small organizations can integrate some of the ideas present within the talent marketplace to leverage their employees for the best work that they can deliver.

Another more recent development in the talent management field is the use of a variety of talent management programs (software). Talent management software often focuses on one or two main parts of the talent management process such as talent acquisition and performance management. The purpose of the software usually involves a more objective and concrete method of evaluating applicants and staff against the type of employee you are looking for. In short, it helps identify and manage issues related to gap analysis and helps the company predict what potential talent is likely to be most effective at contributing to the long term goals and the success of the business.

One other area related to talent management that has recently seen some interesting development regarding the number and expertise of consultants and companies that provide talent management services. Because talent management can require a tremendous amount of time and energy, especially when getting started, many businesses have found it helpful to hire outside assistance. Whether a business needs one consultant or multiple consultants such as those hired through a single agency, knowledgeable consultants can be an ideal way to meet a need within a company without resulting in a prohibitive amount.
Because talent management is a relatively new business concept and still has not gained widespread use, many consultants may have particular areas of a specialty which is one reason an agency or company offering these services may be beneficial since they are likely to have someone on their staff with specialized expertise in the various processes within talent management. An individual consultant, however, should not be excluded simply because they may not have exhaustive experience in every aspect of talent management. After all, while talent management as a phrase is fairly young, business professionals have practiced the majority of components within it successfully for decades.

When considering a consultant or team of consultants to perform some function of talent management, it is imperative that you remember that choosing the right consultant is similar to choosing the right talent. Those competencies that you look for amongst potential talent are similar to a certain level of an X-factor. While we break that unknown element down into core competencies, the fact remains that certain individuals simply embody a level of passion or a stroke of genius, or a spectacular combination of the right personality characteristics that make them talent. It is imperative when choosing a consultant that the person you contract has the ability to recognize that X-factor, whether they refer to it as competencies, personality, or anything else. Thankfully for you, the consultant does not necessarily have to embody that factor, but they do need to be able to recognize it and know how to leverage it for all it is worth.

Talent management is an ongoing series of processes that will never truly end as long as your business grows and stays healthy. It can be an overwhelming concept, especially to get started when you already have an existing staff and established business. Nevertheless, it is never too late or too early to get started managing talent the correct way.
Effective use of talent management can help your business stand out from the rest by providing superior services or products and it makes absolute financial sense to invest well in human capital rather than to approach your company's leadership halfheartedly and hope for the best, which is, in reality, what most businesses are doing. You do not want to be like most businesses; you want to succeed and to succeed wildly. You need the right team to do it and talent management can get you the right team.