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Once you get your foot in the door (Part 1): Development-focused talent management

Who doesn’t remember a time when companies were most proud of the fact that their selection systems worked so well and provided such good conditions for their employees that they stayed with the company for the very long term, even forever. The slogan of most successful multinationals 20-25 years ago was “find your home in the organisation” for colleagues already with us, even if their performance in a particular position was a complete failure. This form of “development-focused” talent management has, one might think, almost disappeared from the horizon, as it is no longer possible in today’s highly competitive environment. But we would be wrong to believe that. With the right adaptations, this talent management methodology can be successfully applied today.

Those who do not change are cowards

I can’t remember the first time I heard a headhunter say that a really good manager changes jobs at least every five years, proving that she is always ready for new challenges. But I am sure that in the early 2000s, this thinking started to permeate the whole management world, and it was a bit of a turn for the other side, because it was with almost a downcast expression that an otherwise good manager “confessed” that she was celebrating her tenth anniversary. It is true that a modern outlook and a willingness to change are great virtues for an employee, but these clever headhunters have forgotten that you don’t necessarily have to change jobs to take on new challenges. Because if the company you work for is constantly and intensively developing, or if you move to a completely different area or position in the same company, then these imaginary five years can start all over again. And it is also very wrong to draw any far-reaching conclusion from the number of years spent in a job as a fact in a career analysis. The trend is clear, however, that the modern manager is less and less likely to want to stay in the job for any length of time, but the reason for this is no longer to prove how good she is at managing change.

One more task

The already serious HR challenges are, of course, not helped by this trend, and companies are obviously trying to focus all their energies on ensuring that their employees do not leave. Moreover, it is a traditional technique that the HR work itself is an indicator of turnover from which frontline managers draw clear conclusions about whether the area is working well or not. Of course, there are cases where poor HR work contributes to an increase in turnover, and there are also cases where non-high quality but benign HR, if not contributing to this process, certainly cannot stop or moderate it. However, very few people realise the importance of the fact that high-quality HR work is often the driver of turnover growth, as its results, monitoring, and constant professional supervision do not provide the opportunity to hide poor performance. In this great chaos, HR today must find the balance between professional opinion, turnover rates, and market opportunities. That’s not an easy task. Development-focused talent management is patient, exudes calm, and acknowledges that you have to cook with what you have. It is very important to record this statement when talking about this methodology, because the clear rule of thumb is that those who are recruited and become part of the organisation are retained at all costs. Often, even if they know that their level of knowledge and performance is not adequate, there are simply positions nowadays in knowledge-focussed areas where you have to put a person in the role. Retaining key people and those colleagues who add real value to the company is simply critical. Whereas 25 years ago, the focus was on “keeping everyone”, today, development-focused talent management is clearly focused on key people and can let go of colleagues who don’t fit in the organisation.