‘Best practice’ is damaging talent management, says KPMG

Tom Newcombe , 05 Apr 2013


A rigid attachment to ‘best practice’, rather than a focus on business needs, is preventing many organisations from unearthing and nurturing staff to drive their business forward, according to KPMG.

KPMG's lead for talent Anna Marie Detert's white paper, Tune in to Talent, finds the danger of such an inflexible approach is also killing organisations' ability to properly manage talent.

Detert argued that organisations are failing to adjust their approach or match it to their unique requirements, leaving executives frustrated and concerned.

She suggested the impact on boardroom confidence in HR tactics is confirmed in a study published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and KPMG, in which fewer than one in four CEOs and directors accepted that their HR department excels at 'sourcing key talent' or 'preparing for a changing workforce'.

The paper added that the tendency to copy or adopt the latest fad or fancy must be challenged if businesses are to understand the talent they truly need to succeed, and plan effectively to find and keep it.

Detert said: "All too often, companies dive straight in, implementing the latest best practice recruitment, development or performance system or process. Instead, they need to stand back and ask some searching questions about what talent their particular business needs now and in the future."

In the paper, she identifies four key groups of questions HR teams should ask, before scoping a talent strategy. These are:


  • Strategic talent requirements: revolving around what kinds of skills will help the business succeed, how many staff are needed and where they should be based
  • Talent risks: based on an assessment of what the key talent risks are facing the organisation, and including analysis of succession planning, key person dependency and mobility risks
  • Return on investment: exploring what the business has learned about which kind of 'talent interventions' deliver the best ROI and examining whether success is better achieved through growing talent or buying it
  • Talent governance & infrastructure: identifying what infrastructure exists to manage data on talent and the culture and governance in place to encourage and enable career moves and secondments


The paper concluded: "By fully understanding the current and future business context - by tuning in to talent - HR teams can assemble the right elements of a talent approach, and create a unique talent playlist - one which captures the character, culture and mood of their specific business."

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Assessing Talent from EQ

Guy Millar 05 Apr 2013

In my experience of mentoring senior teams the thing that makes the difference when it comes to identifying talent is EQ. There are plenty of senior managers with loads of IQ smarts. Strong IQ is a given for inclusion in any talent pool, but the real leaders are the ones with strong EQ as well. In particular self awareness - the key to personal power. As leaders these people start with themselves. They have a strong sense of themselves the part they play in the world including the effect they have on the people around them. They are able to respond in a powerful and effective way to their environment. 5 things to look for when assessing talent: 1. Clear and honest communication Communication doesn’t just mean talking. In fact the spoken word is only 7% of communication. The Millar Method explores communication from many levels: from geography & surroundings, branding and marketing, to office configuration, how meetings are conducted, inter-departmental communication and the interaction between colleagues. What is not said, done or included is as valuable in our assessment as what we do see, hear and experience. 2. Equality ‘In function there is hierarchy, in essence equality’. Competition kills creativity and innovation, it creates fear, sets up an inferior/superior dynamic and prevents the flow of ideas and information. Equality means recognizing strengths and abilities and working collaboratively to boost the health and wellbeing of the company and the people in it. A business relationship is like a marriage. When the partners are fighting each other to be top dog, the family suffers. 3. Congruence This means keeping your agreements, with yourself, each other and the business as a whole, aligning words, thoughts and actions. Congruence builds trust and value in all levels of relationship: to each other, within departments, to suppliers, customers and the greater public. 4. Commitment Being willing to work on all relationships, to build partnership and collaboration and a commitment to working with shared values to ensuring that everyones’ vision for the company is aligned is vital for business success. 5. Creative Self-Expression When Harvard Business School assessed what 3 things the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had in common the study showed that all made time each day to do something that inspired them, were in a significant personal relationship and had a belief in a power greater than themselves. Taking time for one’s self and finding an outlet for personal creative expression brings a new energy to old ideas.

More future orientation less process

Jill king 06 Apr 2013

This article resonates with me. Too many HR teams are bogged down in process or introducing the latest HR tools, rather than participating in strategic development, advising on the consequences for capacity and capabilities in the future, and executing a plan with the leadership of an organisation. HR teams should be constantly looking to the future, anticipating business needs and where appropriate challenging the business model.

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