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The Power to Align Talent to Strategic Initiatives

This is part of a special advertising section focusing on the talent management outlook.

Monday, April 2, 2012
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How does HR respond to the competitive pressures of today's global economy? How do HR professionals deliver value to their leaders? Organizations are facing more competitive pressures than ever before, and often struggle to keep up with the changing market. They must evolve and get products to market faster because of a never-ending stream of new, smarter competition.

Companies are facing these challenges by launching new initiatives to get ahead. These initiatives put pressure on HR because they typically rely on top talent to get the job done. HR is transforming to respond to the challenge and effective talent management is critical for them. HR must have the right insight in order to staff new initiatives, review talent and identify leaders -- all in alignment with organizational goals.

Many HR organizations begin by determining what their talent-management model should be, how to assess talent and how to identify emerging leaders. They often turn to technology to facilitate their transformation. A requirement is that the HR department gets insight into their talent processes to see what works and what does not. This can only be achieved if data and processes are integrated and easily accessed. Companies that are going to acquire another company, launch a new product, expand into a new market or open a new office will need to use talent information to enable those strategic initiatives. The integration helps business leaders make decisions more effectively, more quickly and more efficiently.

Because insight is often attained by comparing seemingly unrelated data points, this integration is necessary. When functional silos in HR are brought together and companies can look at talent management in an integrated manner, they can then more easily review their talent and identify top performers to mobilize for key projects or to mitigate talent risk.

For example, let's say a company sees enormous growth potential in its products-and-services business. The HR team undertakes a talent review and looks at the retirement plans of the engineers, the tenure and the skills of the workforce. In other words, they review their talent in an integrated way and realize there is an enormous gap. Not only does the current workforce not have the right skills, but many of the skilled employees are going to retire over the next 10 years. The company realizes it cannot execute on its business plan due to a lack of the right talent. It takes immediate action and evaluates its employees more thoroughly. It has to find the right skill sets, the top performers and potential leaders so it can execute on the business plan.

Technology can make talent reviews easier and more useful, and can help organizations find top performers and potential leaders. It enables managers to conduct visual, interactive reviews enriched by both formal and informal data. Embedded analytics help identify top performers who are at risk, and managers can intervene just in time so that valuable talent is not lost.

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True alignment of talent is another key to being competitive. The approach successful companies take is to align employees with critical business goals and then implement technology to help them achieve those goals. Businesses win when employees are in sync. That means aligning individual and team goals with company goals and enabling clear ways to collaborate. HR can then evaluate, develop and compensate employees based on how they are tracking to organizational goals. In addition, organizations need to reward their talent, and industry trends clearly indicate that pay-for-performance is drawing a renewed focus from executives.

Organizations have the opportunity to capitalize on innovative reward strategies that attract and engage top talent. Usually, pay-for-performance programs offer employees cash incentives based on how an employee is doing, as determined by his or her performance review, and based on how well the company is meeting its set goals.

Organizations want to attract, motivate and retain talent through strategically planning, allocating and communicating compensation. But right now, there is an explosion of interest in social performance-management tools and social rewards. Employees may give rewards to each other or find skills through their social networks to get the job done.

Understanding and influencing talent is critical, and organizations that review their talent, align individual goals to the organization, reward their top talent and provide social-networking tools are more likely to achieve success for any strategic initiative where talent is needed.

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