Tackling talent management in its entirety

20 April 2020

Organisations have implemented rapid change in response to the challenges created by COVID-19 and the initial lockdown. Now, the focus has shifted to navigating the new normal and adapting to very different customer needs and expectations. Total talent management is an agile, strategic approach to resourcing that strengthens an organisation’s ability to secure a sustainable future.

What is Total Talent Management (TTM)?
TTM is a strategic approach for planning how an organisation should access the talent, skills and competencies needed to fulfil its corporate objectives. Viewed in this way, TTM encompasses not just the skills and talent required by permanent employees, but also those in the extended, flexible workforce. Together, these groups make up the total talent eco-system:

  • 3rd party suppliers of specialist consultancy services
  • Offshore and outsourced service providers
  • Suppliers of temporary workers (in their various forms)
  • Online marketplaces
  • Talent communities.

Think of TTM as the air traffic control tower providing an all-seeing overview of the skies, and coordinating traffic from each departure point to destination in a fully managed, transparent, coordinated and efficient way.

Why is it important to think about TTM post C-19?
It has never been more crucial for organisations to respond and serve their customer markets in the most efficient way. As a result, we’re seeing significant corporate reorganisations into virtual companies featuring market-focussed units. Large scale programmes of work and change projects are starting to be reinstated.

In response to the ongoing pandemic, companies have started radically rethinking both the workforce and workplace, which has forced strategic workforce planning into the limelight. Clearly, the adoption of a TTM strategy is a journey that organisations will need to embark upon. It’s also one that will take time to implement and refine before the benefits are fully realised.

Now is the ideal moment for talent leaders to create the roadmap and architecture for accessing the talent their business needs. Designed from the outset to maximise how a business serves customers and markets, new total talent strategies will leverage all of the talent source options in a joined up, managed and coordinated way.

How TTM changes the organisational mindset
TTM is a philosophy that reaches far into all functional business areas and challenges how organisations operate.

Some of the challenges posed are as basic as distinguishing between non-core competencies and core competencies of strategic value to the permanent employee skillset. This necessitates questioning the intellectual property that defines and differentiates your business and, in turn, defining the talent you need for employees to be a strategic asset.

Fundamentally, the question your organisation should be asking is, “what do we do?” Then consider the pace of change, industry disruption or technology churn in a given area – and consider what levels of investment would be needed to maintain, sustain and accelerate capability in a given functional area? Would working with a specialist partner whose core business this represents make better business sense?

A good example is a film production company. There is a core team of employees responsible for funding and projects. The talent, however, is all freelance: script writers, actors, directors, wardrobe, make-up, sound, lighting and so on. Imagine if the production company had to use the same talent on all of its various projects, over and over again, simply because they were permanent employees. It’s a model that is hard to see as successful.

What TTM mistakes do some employers make?
The shift to TTM is a complex, multi-dimensional transformation that fundamentally redefines how an organisation can execute on its stated objectives. Many organisations struggle to categorise external labour in the right way and often fudge ‘consultancy spend’, never mind managing to re-skill and up-skill existing permanent employees to meet strategic business needs.

Many businesses have much work to do to foster a culture that promotes internal employee movement and mobility. It should be easy, and encouraged, for employees to move internally and quickly productive in their new roles, instead of being blocked by line managers worried by about losing team members.

How should companies approach TTM?
Implementing TTM doesn’t require you to tear up your current talent playbook. It can be more of an iterative process, providing it is guided by a clear vision from the outset.

Create a vision that employees, internal stakeholders, partners and customers can all buy into. It will help each party to understand their role in the journey, how they can contribute in bringing the vision to life and how they will benefit.
Align your vision with your values and employee value proposition. This will drive engagement and help to both attract and retain the talent your business needs to fulfil its promise.

Gain executive support and sponsorship for the change journey and ensure shared participation, engagement and accountability across the traditional ‘silo owners’ of HR, procurement and business.

Break down organisational silos: often one for perm hiring, another for temp labour, another for services procurement and so on. This can be achieved through the creation of a supra-governance structure. This point of orchestration provides management and transparency spanning traditional organisational paradigms, aligned to business need rather than organisational and functional structures.

The end result is a common, customer and objective focussed mission. Each party clearly understands the benefits in adopting a total talent strategy.

Organisations also need to review and rationalise supplier partners armed with a strategic understanding of external needs. The key is to work with a smaller group of suppliers who will invest in capability to increasingly improve delivery and outcomes on your behalf.

This will optimise and increase value from 3rd party supplier spend budgets, ensuring that appropriate engagement models leverage the best talent, in the right (compliant) way, at the right time.

A final thought on TTM
Organisations face a big job to achieve a successful total talent approach. But, the need for agility, adaptability and ability has never been more important; there is no choice but to pivot with changing consumer, business and market needs.

It’s time to move on from old practices, fixed mindsets, rigid models and bloated, cost-laden organisational structures. The winners will be those with a bold new approach to talent management, for a discussion on new approaches please get in touch.

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