Talent Management

Jun 05, 2022 25 min read

An imperative- Transformational and Futuristic Human Resource

Mr. SK Singh is working with IHB Ltd. Noida (On Deputation) as DGM(HR)

Abstract:

HR will play a center stage role in leading growth and transformation. HR will be partner rather than back office staffing function. Digital and Agile HR is crucial for futuristic HR. Businesses need to integrate HR function and align HR process with technological advances. Redefine and orient HR processes such as Talent Management, Performance Management, and Career Management to be future ready and reduce the degree of uncertainty. Digitalization of HR processes and diversity of talent is need of the hour to meet future challenges and competent employee mix.

Key Words:

Alignment of HR, Talent Management, Performance Management, Digitization, Diversity, Career path

Content:

Industrialization 4.0 is a growth fuelled by newer technologies such as Cognitive Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud computing, Internet of Things, Block Chain, cyberspace and similar areas. Basically, industry will be driven by knowledge and skill. In the years to come, HR will play a crucial role to maintain sustainability and perpetuity of the organization. With organizations becoming heavily dependent on talent and industry becoming knowledge centric, HR function will occupy the centre stage. In the yesteryears, HR was more of a back office support function but in the present scenario, industry will be compelled to make HR function a partner with involvement in business decisions. Strategic HR will now be required to identify, analyze and do a prognosis of futuristic predictive capabilities for keeping the organization relevant and be growth oriented.

The key imperatives that HR needs to possess and be a partner in business are the following:

Involvement and understanding of Business: Erstwhile HR remained entrenched in matters related to health, wellness and facilities. HR remained a standalone function and maintained certain amount of secrecy and conservatism. It remained a back office and behind the scene function. Very often it has been busy with routine stuff such as hire and fire, framing rules and policies, salary and compensation, employee relation etc. In the changing context, HR needs to be more agile and responsive to meet the requirement of the core business. It has to compliment the needs of other functions by not only providing the right talent but also ensure that external stakeholders such as customers, vendors, retailers, dealers, regulatory and statutory agencies etc. are provided appropriate and suitable favorable experience during interactions. Better understanding of the whole gamut of the business will facilitate rollout and adoption of new technology and facilitate in growth and expansion both inorganic and organic. Various aspects of business such as products, markets, supply and distribution, research and development, operations, learning and development, and re-skilling needs has be taken care by HR. To better know and understand how business creates profitability and adds value, HR has to be integral from the rudimentary stage.

Alignment of HR processes with Business: Over the last decade, traditionally HR processes have undergone change and the nomenclature has shifted to the more lucrative and comprehensive talent management Cycle. The normal HR processes of selection, hiring and firing, industrial relations and conflict resolution, performance appraisal, incentive and compensation, and learning and development has morphed into newer and ingenuity based processes. Human capital now provides the competitive edge and its formation is now the base of all future business. It has become critical for talent pool to remain relevant, meaningful and ambidextrous for firms to remain a market leader and consistently grow. Talent has to be inimitable and unique to leverage it favorably. HR has to act as a lever and raise the efficiency bar for talent to such an extent that it cannot be hijacked or imitated. The quality of talent cannot be compromised else the high level of performance cannot be sustained for long.

Relevance of HR processes to upscale business: Gone are the days when HR used to prove backend support and systems support for human capital and relations matter. With the emergence of newer technologies, HR processes need to become relevant and necessary to upscale business and synchronize with market needs. Instead of falling into traps and whirlpool of jargons related to newer methods of formulating and reinventing the wheel approach, it would be best to customize and reorient HR processes that are organization or firm specific.

Redefine the HR Processes: The basic construct of HR functions may remain unchanged. But the functionalities within HR will undergo change and transform to meet the requirement of industry and business.

Let us examine and assess how each of these will be impacted with the changing business scenario.

Talent Management:

In the present moment of technological shift, TM is going gain lot of attention. Not that the importance of skill, knowledge and experience of key personnel didn’t existed earlier but the rate at which skills are thinning and becoming obsolete is very high. Newer technologies involving STEM such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Mining, Block chain, agile and computational intelligence has brought the focus back into Talent Management. Howsoever there are two aspects involved. Firstly attracting key talent with newer technology knowledge and secondly application of these in converting TM into a more predictive and systematic process.

Although the war for talent has been there yet the rules of the game has changed. Attracting key talent won’t be easy. With the advent of contractual Gig knowledge worker, organizations will find it hard to reign and retain talent for longer duration. Possibilities of key talent acquiring the skill set and experience during the tenure and then transitioning to newer independent role has become a reality. With whole world becoming a market for talent, the stickiness and attachment of talent in the gig economy will be less. So increasingly managements of corporations and companies have to factor in this new reality and may be curtailing recurring expenses on learning and development and on-boarding to minimalistic.

TM and its constructs will start utilizing data based analytical tools and visualization for implementation. Businesses having a horizon of 10 to 15 years will require devising dynamic TM and metrics of TM to be fluid and receptive.

Conventional methods of interviewing may be replaced with AI & ML enabled techniques. Further, the “Bots” and “Tots” based real time screening process may be used more frequently. With ageing population and demographic shift, available talent pool may shrink and will become sparse. The whole gamut of TM including Competency Management and Succession planning will be technology enabled. It will result in enhanced effectiveness of complex interaction between staffing levels, competencies, compensation structures, workforce profile and Diversity level.

Performance Management:

Very often, Performance Management System in organizations is considered as an anathema by employees when it should serve as a driving force of productivity and growth facilitator. Performance Management has evolved over the years and many befitting elements have been subsumed to cater to the demands of firms and industry.

Few reasons cited for PMS being “Achilles Heel” rather than a catalyst for improved performance and growth is as given below:

  • Lack of involvement and role clarity

  • Cumbersome, bureaucratic and time consuming

  • Inconsistent, Unfair and inequitable

  • Fear of sour relationship between superiors and subordinates leading affected work

  • Tool for reprimanding and basis for restructuring or downsizing

  • “Miss the Bus”- Developmental aspect becomes secondary

  • Suffers from various biases – Recency, Halo, Helicopter. Primacy, Leniency and central tendency, unconscious and personal biases.

In spite of all the pitfalls, PMS is one of the most important HR tool for assessment of performance across the spectrum of HR processes.

The performance assessment perspective has to change and synchronize with newer technologies. Erstwhile concepts of Graphic Rating Scale, Forced Percentage Distribution System, Critical Incidents Method, Behaviorally Anchored System, Management by Objective, Balanced Scorecard or combination two or more of these methodologies may not be contextual in the present. Majority of systems have been tailored and customized to meet the requirement of the specific industry, Firm or Organization.

With digitization and the possibility of instantaneous feedback and review, organizations need to reorient and realign. Majority of the Organizations have already transitioned to digital and software based assessment and evaluation procedure. Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning can provide suitable solutions to bottlenecks that PMS has been dealing since long. Competency based traits and behavioral characteristics can be captured using algorithms. AI and Machine Learning has revolutionized how business is conducted whether it is marketing, sales, advertising, finance or manufacturing Machine Learning and data enabled systems and processes will replace traditional software (if then else) based ERPs used for PMS. AI enabled with data inputs will become the preferred solution to PMS.

With increased availability of data (input and output), performance assessment per se could shift from a restrained and fixed framework to more dynamic performance management, somewhat replicating and decoding the concept of airlines pricing mechanism. In fact Performance Management algorithms can be used to predict performance of employees. It would narrow the focus to actual and potential future performers. Highly complex and challenging roles may not find takers such as taking up an assignment in remote area and economically unstable markets. Organizations can create an ensemble of roles with greater risks, stakes and severity. Corresponding exactitude factor for achieving the target could be associated to dynamic comparative performance level. It will help to gauge the magnitude of the difficulty and level of effort required to reach a performance level for the purported role.

The metrics collected from various data points (input and output) can be further put to use in arriving at charting career and succession plan of high performers and potential performers. Data from these assessments can provide insights and fresh perspective regarding important components of individual.

Variety of data can be put to use for predictive analysis of human performance and behavior in the organization setup. In fact Performance Management is the only reliable tool that provides data for future projection and predictability that can be probably approximately correct. With long term vision in mind, AI and Machine Learning can be productively used to gauge and predict precise performance level, stickiness and continuity, culture fit, adaptability, learning skills and capability, steadfastness, integrity, maturity and trust level, differentiate compensation and optimum growth that employee can reach. It ensures that employee stays longer and obsolescence doesn’t creeps in the organization.

Career Management

Career management embodies both aspects of anticipating and/or forecasting human resource requirement. It is to develop a successful and apt supply chain management mechanism and to cater to organizations need for human capital at right juncture. Career Management interlinks both aspects of career growth and succession planning of employee and provides a helicopter view to the Management. When there is a blend of individual aspiration and organizational growth perspective, career management is able to meet its objective.

Notwithstanding the fact that career management is an imperative that organizations cannot sublet, it is now the backbone of any HR process. Intuitive planning and coordination between units in the area of planning their workforce activities has been necessitated and organizational units can chart out pans to need present and future needs. Algorithms to pick up patterns and trends for preparing workforce requirements can come in handy in succession planning.

Critical positions in the org setup that Management will be interested in never leaving it vacant or even occupied by incompetent personnel, should be identified. Certain critical technical, operational or business positions may be earmarked as star positions. Drawing an analogy from “Blue zones” of the world, the common denominators for all key positions consisting of determinants such as knowledge, skill, experience, aptitude and embedded characteristics like integrity, trust, understanding of diversity, culture and ethnicity, and global economic scenarios.

The essence of successful career management is planning well ahead of time for the future. This would require taking stock of areas such as prospective Organization structure, Career growth and Succession plan for key positions present and future.

Career path and Succession plan

Plans are developed for each critical position in the organization to ensure a continuous supply of talent pool as per requirement of the organization. Each Position needs to define the relevance and degree of difficulty in finding a replacement.

Position may be categorized as critical or non critical depending upon such factors:

  • Difficulty in finding replacement or finding suitable replacement

  • Level of knowledge, skills and experience to perform

  • Time to groom and develop potential candidate to fill

  • Job responsibilities that are critical to business

  • Exercises influence, control, or direction over the performance of many other individuals,

  • workgroups, or units

  • Requires levels of knowledge, skills, or process abilities that are not readily available or easily obtained in the labor market

  • May require specialized experiences as a component of preparation for the critical position

Career planning is often cited as essential in determining successful hires. But sticking to the convention or norms has its pitfall. Even AI enabled hiring and selection process has its limitations. Very often it will restrict the diversity of talent to be hired. Job descriptions can be retrograde in the sense that tangential and non linear thinking talent may be waylaid. New ideas and concepts that is the out of the box thinking talent may be reticent and different. It becomes difficult to spot such talent with diverse and variegated nature of talent. The competencies of mavericks and new thought personalities may not match our norms. The career progression and path ideally, cannot be simulated or visualized or charted for these. AI enabled processes may provide skewed results and hires may not be able provide fresh perspective and progressive view. It is therefore a prerequisite to have channels open for the odd and diverse talent pool. Talent differentiation has become an imperative to be relevant in the industry and global market.

Digitization of HR

Digitalization or digitization has been in vogue since two decades. It has taken happened at variable pace in almost all sectors. Digitalization is the process of converting information from physical format into a digital one. Diverse forms of information such as text, image, sound etc. may be converted into digital mode. Digitization in the strict sense may have taken place in organization only to the extent of converting records and documents into digital form. Even HR processes have also been made online or web enabled, but the question is that to what extent these ERPs, Software and Web enabled packages have been successfully helped in improving the employee experience and facilitate to improve employee level of engagement.

Adoption of the digital platform has enabled HR to bring in greater transparency, clarity, faster delivery and resolution of HR and related services. Employees are able check their entitled benefits and payments, Salary and Compensation, incentives and seek redressal online in the digital platform. Rudimentary and routine functions when automated and digitized, it improves the employee experience and leads to faster reach. Minimizing on physical documentation and in other areas is the essence of digitization. Agile methodologies and digital technique will essentially catapult HR as a growth orientated. Better and highly personalize service will be spearheaded by an IT/ITes Supervisor. HR will be able to add more value and resource to the organizations growth. HR is able to add value to the organization and helps nurture relationship and develop natural leadership, building the right mix of people.

Nonetheless an analytical and data driven culture will help in preparing HR function for the future. Issues pertaining to governance and charter of ethics are needed to build a right mix of people. HR will add more teeth to point under consideration. Building a right mix of people will keep the organization future ready and relevant. Many companies have developed “Chat Bots” who are able to resolve HR issues that are in the form of queries or routine in nature.

Digital HR is only possible to reap benefits and becomes successful if the right digital infrastructure coexists. It requires maintaining and keeping in online mode 24x7, round the year for its efficacy to reach employees. People analytics and data driven culture adds to digital inspiration and HR can leverage to align and adjust the work culture. Redundancies and repetitive processes need to be replaced by agile and efficient digital methods.

Impact of HR practices on business needs no further elaboration. Industry problem of growth/retention can be resolved by adopting suitably leveraging HR analytics & dashboard software. It improves the quality of HR decisions and brings in predictability. Even the HR processes related experience of the employee gets enhanced and results in increase in productivity. Web and cloud based data management software has reduced the costs and increased the data management capability. Patterns and trends, reports and analysis, actionable insights and view for stakeholders and top management helps in taking informed decision in advance. Some of the HR Analytics software available are Excel, Tableau, Visier, ORACLE Analytics, IntelliHR, Compport etc. Depending upon the usability, scalability and requirement of the company, the choice of HR software may be made.

Diversity and building right mix

Workforce diversity and right employee mix now needs no emphasis. It has become an imperative and is very pertinent in the changing work ethics. People with diverse backgrounds often foster innovation and creativity, and enhance productivity. Very often when you have people with STEM Technology, research, marketing, finance, environment, health and safety background come together, the decision are unlikely to go erratic. It reduces the error component and increase sustainability. Companies need to have their talent sourcing and selection processes aligned to have diverse pool with varied experience of domain and industry.

Instead of looking for the stereotype workforce with related skill and knowledge, it will better to have a workforce having diverse knowledge and rich experience such that companies never face obsolence or insolvency.

Conclusion

A future ready HR has to be curated with right kind of mindset and intuitiveness. The digital age HR has to keep up-to-date of the technological advancement and maintain healthy team diversity. HR’s job has undergone change and shifted to partnering in strategic business decisions. An Agile and future ready HR is now the growth engine for organizations success and sustainability.

     

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