by Anja Hartman

Succession planning is crucial

Identify high-potential employees

Anja Hartman; Human Resources Director at Sage VIP
Anja Hartman 2 - Sage VIP.jpg

Talent management adds strategic value to a business and, if implemented correctly, will help a company achieve its business goals. In a nutshell, it is all about placing the ‘right people in the right role’ for current and future business plans.

A company’s talent management strategy should form part of the overall human resources strategy and in the end align with the company’s overall business plan. For example, if the company is building a brand of confidence for the external customers, this confidence will have to be demonstrated by the leaders inside the business. Creating a leadership brand is, therefore, central in supporting the brand internally. This will help the leaders to focus not only on achieving financial targets, but also think of how to motivate and engage employees to achieve these financial goals.

Company culture forms an integral part of talent management and will attract the right talent for future success. For instance, if you work toward being an employer of choice, your employees are more likely to be loyal, and in the end this will make you, as a company, a favourable option for the people you want to attract.

A company’s culture is not established overnight and ties in strongly with the behaviours of the business leaders, the manner in which decisions are taken, the processes and the day-to-day running of a business.

“At Sage VIP, we have found great value in conducting anonymous employee surveys. In these surveys, employees had the opportunity to tell us how they rate certain dimensions in the business but, more importantly, indicate which dimensions will make them more loyal toward the company. This formed the foundation in our journey on becoming an employer of choice and we are fortunate to be in a position where talented graduates approach us and want to work at our company.”

Building a talent pipeline

One of the main responsibilities for managers is to ensure a strong talent pipeline. They have to identify critical skills and competencies required for current and future business goals. In addition, managers have to identify critical positions and determine which individuals will be capable of taking up these key positions in future.

An analysis of your current talent can be based on discussions with individuals, the output from assessment tools and evaluating the performance of employees over the last few years.

The following should be taken into consideration when determining an employee’s potential:

  • The ability to easily progress to higher and more complex levels;
  • Displaying learning agility and being readily adaptable;
  • The ability to perform cross-functional assignments and not be limited to geographical or functional discipline; and
  • Personal aspiration and commitment to succeed.

This evaluation process is followed by developing people according to a structured plan, based on the gaps identified between the business plan and the current talent available. It is also referred to as a succession plan.

In any organisation, there will always be employees with a specific talent or critical ‘know-how’, on which the company relies heavily. If these employees should exit the business, the impact is usually huge because the skill is not always easy to replace. Managers should aim to reduce the dependency on these critical workers as far as possible.

The succession plan will help to reduce the business risk and the company should have a supply of talent ready to fill this role or be capable of doing broader roles. Replacement plans should be reviewed annually and action plans followed up rigorously – particularly in areas where there are critical gaps.

Talent management and confidentiality

A question regularly asked is whether an employee should know if he/she has been identified as being 'high potential'. It is important to encourage an open and honest approach with the employee at all times and to communicate with employees where they are in the talent pipeline and what it means to them.

Talent management is not just another HR process. It is important to the survival of any business, and managers have a responsibility to ensure talent is managed effectively and continuously.

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