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How to link talent strategy with your business strategy

BY: Brigitte Schwartz|4 April 2019
BLOG| Business leadership and strategy

When companies don’t align talent management with the bigger overarching business strategy, often the wrong people get hired – or the right people get hired for the wrong roles. The cost of this is huge. In fact, Harvard Business Review (HBR) names hiring the wrong people the biggest waste of organisational resources, in terms of lost time and money.


To avoid this, top talent management is essential. McKinsey believes this comes down to the deceptively simple task of hiring the right people for the right roles. It seems obvious, but countless companies get it wrong.


And part of the reason why they keep getting it wrong is the misalignment between talent and the business’s ‘guiding north star’ – the vision and mission all stakeholders need to contribute to and invest in. Another issue is that businesses simply don’t invest enough time developing and rotating internal talent. Far too few companies have diverse talent succession pipelines in place to groom high-performers for specific roles down-the-line – through continuous learning, mentorship and more. Which, again, all comes down to forgetting the big business vision.


Using McKinsey’s 4 Strategies for Linking Talent to Value report and Winning with Your Talent Management survey, here are key ways organisations can link talent management to value:


Firstly, ask what value looks like:

How does your business create value? What are the current sources of value for shareholders and how will these evolve in the future? What kind of talent is needed to add to this overriding value proposition?


Now, define the critical roles:

McKinsey suggests that just 5% of roles create 95% of value in a business. Identify essential ‘value enablers, creators and protectors’ who make the most impact. Vitally, all senior leadership needs to be involved in this, along with HR. Also, find the ‘gaps’ – the key roles the company currently doesn’t have.


Then find the right talent for the right roles:

McKinsey suggests that companies frequently fall short by focusing on establishing a strong top two-tiers of the hierarchy, while overlooking the rest. Another issue is when key roles are filled by available – but not necessarily the best-matched – internal talent.


Before hiring, it’s important all relevant stakeholders, including line-managers and the senior management team, sit together to define the scope of the role, its KPIs and how its going to bring value to the business, in line with the overarching vision. Once the role is defined, there’s a clear picture of what skills are needed. That then dictates whether talent rotation, tapping into an existing succession pipeline or bringing new talent into the business is the most viable solution.


When hiring, it’s vital that a fair, objective process overturns unconscious bias and recognises the merit of ‘intrinsic traits’ like personality, as well as skills and experience. Again, it’s vital these align with the company ‘north star’.


Other important talent management success factors:

  • Rapid talent allocation – a fast reallocation of talent in line with changing strategic priorities (again, linked to the overarching business strategy).
  • The role of HR in facilitating a positive employee experience.
  • The existence of a well-informed HR team with strong knowledge of the ‘big’ strategy and business priorities – plus close, sustained collaboration between HR and the CEO and CFO.
  • Strong support and continuous feedback after a person is hired, with clear onboarding and consistent online learning and development opportunities.
Read more about talent development and retention

For more information on how Stellenbosch Graduate Institute can assist companies to upskill their HR and project managers to hire the right people for the right roles, visit SGI.co.za.


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