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Talent Matters

Time to change the way we think about Talent Acquisition / Executive Search & Recruitment

Ask a hundred CEO’s what their organisations most important assets are and the vast majority (over 90% in the some parts of the knowledge economy) will list their people (Talent) as one of their top 3 assets.

However when you ask these same CEO’s what their talent strategy is and who is responsible for this, most will stare back at you with a blank expression across their faces.

What is a talent strategy?

Whilst paying lip service to people being their greatest assets sadly most organisations will not think strategically about the talent in their business, or how they plan to attract fresh talent. In our experience as an Executive Search Consultancy we have found most recruitment decisions are reactionary – made only once the need arises or if someone leaves.

This is because most companies will not have a Talent Plan or a Talent Acquisition Strategy in place. For some reason most management executives do not apply the same objectivity to Talent Management / Executive Search decision as they do to the other functions in their business.

Most senior executives will have a view on their organisation’s sales plans, production plans and other business / functional metrics.

However when it comes to the talent in their business in terms of developing it, managing it and acquiring it, many will state that this is a responsibility they have delegated to HR or even the office manager.

Now this is fine if they delegate it to someone who is empowered to deliver and affect change, however, most business leader’s view this function as an operational or administrative function rather than a strategic function.

This will result in the person being delegated the responsibility, not being able to contribute either through lack of authority or skills-set. This begs the question would a senior manager or CEO do this with their sales, finance, production and other business functions?

When was the last time that you as a CEO, your Board or senior C-Level leadership team considered how you attract the very best people to join your business? On the other hand do you have a succession or disaster recovery plan in place if a key member of your team or business was to leave?

Have you considered the impact of such a situation would have on your business? and more importantly other members of the team? Do you know what it would mean to you bottom line and to your customers?

It is no surprise that Jack Welch (regarded by many as the greatest CEO of the last 100 years) saw his main job as developing talent in the form of a gardener providing water and nourishment to his top managers whilst pulling out some weeds in the meantime.

In the knowledge economy, as the idea of a job for life becomes obsolete, every organisation is fighting for the same talent, either to hang on to it or to attract it. Hence their ability to attract and retain the right talent will determine the success of their business. It is this direct correlation between the success of a business and the people it employs demands that organisations take a more strategic view of their talent needs and develop a Talent Plan and a Talent Acquisition Strategy which addresses some of the questions above.

The role of your Executive Search firm / Talent Acquisition Partner needs to change from being that of a pure transactional service provider to that of a genuine business adviser. One who can advise and even provide a proactive service offering so that in the event a key member of your team leaves you have a well thought out plan and process to replace them with somebody better.

To achieve this objective however requires commitment of time & resource from senior management team as well as the organisations Executive Search & Talent Acquisition partners. Too often companies make ill-informed or bad hiring decisions due to their inability to plan their recruiting activities or by making hasty ‘knee jerk’ reaction based decisions. By taking time out to think about how they plan to undertake key recruitment activity and utilising the expertise of their chosen Executive Search / Talent Acquisition Partner an organisation could add significant value to its bottom line through more informed and better recruiting decisions.

Taken in this context the role of your Executive Search firm / Talent Acquisition Partner needs to change. Historically the Executive Search / Recruitment business has seen its role as being that of a pure transactional service provider, finding the right people as and when needed using their proprietary databases and contact networks. The advent of social networks and the growth of the information age which has resulted in many channels through which to attract Talent, in this instance Executive Search firms can provide ‘real’ value to your business by becoming a genuine partner and contributing with their knowledge and experience by helping you to put a strategy in place to answer the questions above. However your Executive Search / Talent Acquisition partner will only be able to do this if they themselves are equipped with the right skills & knowledge, sadly many in the Executive Search industry are not.

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