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Talent Intelligence | THE ROCKY TALENT POOL

What makes this all the more worrying is that less than half of executives rate their existing performance and talent management activities as effective, while less than a third of leaders think that their company has got leadership selection and development right.


Globalization offers business immense possibilities: bigger markets, more sources of innovation, and – in theory, at least – a wider, deeper pool of talent. That’s the good news.

However according to Professor Shlomo Ben-Hur, an organizational psychologist and a Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD, in the years to come four key pressures will make these challenges ever more difficult.

The aging population

The first issue affecting talent is simple demographics: populations are getting older. By 2050 the number of people aged 65 and above in the G7 and BRIC nations will have doubled, while China will see the number of workers supporting each senior citizen drop from 10 to 2.5.

The proportion of the workforce available to work will steadily decrease.

To sustain economic growth the US will require an additional 25 million workers by 2030, and Western Europe will require a staggering additional 45 million workers.


Organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about whether school-leavers and college graduates leave education with the skills needed to contribute to the modern economy.

In countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom fewer people are studying much-needed technical disciplines such as engineering, science, and mathematics. Alongside this, only a quarter of professionals in India and 20 percent of those in Russia are considered employable by multinational companies.

Changing talent pool

A force at play is the fact that people are changing, or at least their expectations are.

Generational changes in the psychological contract between organization and employee are appearing as younger workers expect more than just financial returns and are more willing to change employers and travel to get what they want.


Organizations are going to have to work harder to attract, keep and motivate talent.

Asia will help bridge any workforce gaps, but the region will not remain a reliable source for long.

What makes this all the more worrying is that less than half of executives rate their existing performance and talent management activities as effective, while less than a third of leaders think that their company has got leadership selection and development right.


So what is going wrong with the current approach to talent management?

Historically, talent management was based on the assumption that the initial investment involved in hiring and training someone would be recouped over time as the person settled into the role and started creating value for the organization.

However, modern turnover rates mean that a sizeable proportion of employees leave before these costs have been covered.

So financially, the old deal just doesn’t make sense any more.

A related issue is the over-reliance on the external market for talent plus reduced retention levels as people become fed-up with being pigeonholed and the consequent lack of internal opportunities.

What makes this all the more difficult is that knowing what works is not as easy as recent studies have found that only 7 percent of organizations hold managers accountable for developing their reports and that only a tenth hold a regular talent review with their boards.

Understanding the three talent types

When executives talk about talent, they usually mean their company’s emerging or established leaders: highly-trained people with MBAs or an equivalent level of streets smarts, and a track record of achieving business results.

But this understanding of talent is both misleading and incomplete.

It implies that there is a single kind of brilliant person who is capable of slotting into any context and handling any assignment, when the truth is that companies need a broad, rich variety of people with complementary talents, not just those with “leadership potential.”

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So what’s to be done?  

The starting point has to be identifying which activities and processes will actually add real value to your business.

So, think about what kind of talent you need, what you are currently doing to manage your talent needs and which of your current activities is genuinely making a measurable difference.

Next – and this is a big one – you need to find a way of getting leaders and managers to own and actually invest time in talent management and development.

That means setting explicit expectations with clear incentives; creating visibility and accountability through relevant metrics that are aligned with your strategy; supporting managers with training where required; and making sure that, as a business leader, you walk the talk.

Next, clarify strategy and ownership. Get in real specialists with a deeply pragmatic approach and integrate all talent and development-related areas behind one point of accountability.

Distinguish between different types of talent or employee types, and assess the talent you do have to establish how good it is and to identify who is succeeding and who not.

Create fluid talent pools instead of static succession plans, and have a clear view of your resourcing and retention strategies alongside this, and remember, don’t forget that you need to look at this globally.

Finally, audit your activities every year.

Do not expect amazing outcomes from year one, and do not rely on vendors for validation studies. Instead, establish both leading and lagging metrics that are commercially relevant to your business; these could include engagement, intention to leave, pipeline capability levels, and future demand.

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Talent Intelligence | What You Need to Know to Identify and Measure Talent

Shlomo Ben-Hur

By Professor Shlomo Ben-Hur with Nik Kinley
Much has been written about best practices for measuring talent and which tests and tools to use, however there is little written that explores what businesses need to do to ensure that these measures have a real-world impact on the bottom line.
This book fills that gap. 

Written by Nik Kinley and Shlomo Ben-Hur, experts in talent measurement, who combine deep technical knowledge with first-hand experience of developing and implementing measurement in businesses, this book contains real illustrative examples, and draws on the latest research and the authors’ experience of working with some of the biggest and best-known global companies.

Done well, talent measurement can enhance selection processes, resulting in improved job performance, accelerated time to full productivity, and reduced employee turnover. Yet, in many if not most businesses, measurement is not having the impact it should.

Talent Intelligence shows leaders how to transform the value and impact of measurement in their organizations.