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After the PhD: Managing
your talent
Stephen Swailes
University of Huddersfield
PhD Conference, Hull, 10th February 2011
Aim

To help you think about…
• what top employers are looking for
• how you can respond
Why is talent on the agenda?





Increasing trade and labour mobility
raises competition for exceptional
employees
Changing career expectations
Retention and turnover
People deliver differential
performance (80/20?)
TM is a key strategic issue for HRM
Modern history of talent

1950s – US research on
‘promotabilty’

1970s – emergence of
Strategic HRM

1980s/90s – interest in
the high performance
work place
Modern history of talent…


1997 - “War for talent”
captured practitioner
imagination & created a
new discourse
‘Resource-based view’
helped to explain how
HR strategies linked to
performance (VRIO)
But what is it?


Talent – people perceived as
delivering outstanding results in
relation to what organizations want
to achieve.
TM – attracting, developing and
retaining high performers and high
potentials
Core assumptions of TM



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Some skills & attributes contribute more
than others
These skills can be assessed
Some positions contribute more than others
Talent in key positions is critical
Talent is scarce
Failure to manage talent compromises
organizational performance
TM can be seen as....

Systematically
•Creating a vision of being
‘exceptional’
•Seeking, nurturing, developing,
rewarding and retaining those
who deliver
•Embedding that approach in
organization culture
Example: What Cargill look for




Learning capacity (learning more than is
taught)
Executive capacity (‘relentless
determination’, sense of priorities,
optimistic, compelling)
Knowledge of the business
Behaviour (‘discuss, decide, champion’)
Cargill’s strategy

Bi-annual organizational talent
review to find
• Next generation leaders
• Emerging leaders
• High impact performers
RBS - core competences



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Leadership
Engagement (improving the business)
Customer focus
Managing people and change
Efficiency & innovation
Performance management &
development
PWC


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Technical skills taken for granted
Measure against 7 behavioural
competences
Move staff around the business
Provide mentoring support
Intensive, long residentials for future
leaders
Organizations often…
3.
Identify key positions that impact on
competitive advantage
Create a talent pool
Create differentiated HR architecture

(Collings & Mellahi, 2009)
1.
2.
The dark side: dysfunctional
workplaces?



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Over-emphasising the individual?
Glorifying the ‘talented’?
TM is a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Elitist cultures – ‘untalented’ become
cynical?
(Pfeffer 2001)
Summary



Views of talent are shaped by top
management
P-O fit & Person-job fit are crucial.
(Is the workplace drawing out your
talents?)
Many biasing factors hinder talent
spotting
And finally…

“Everyone has talent at 25,
the difficulty is to have it at 50”
Edgar Degas, 1834-1917
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