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Internal talent is best – and better than engagement – says Oracle HR boss

The best talent rarely becomes available to recruiters today, because it is being cherished by its existing employer, according to Oracle’s HR director. The challenge to employers is to grow a talent pipeline from within their own organisation.

Addressing delegates at the HR Forum yesterday, aboard the P&O cruise ship Aurora, Vance Kearney (pictured), vice president of EMEA HR at software provider Oracle, said: “There used to be 30 pages of recruitment every week in the Sunday Times. This is all but gone now. Talent is less available and the only way you can recruit talented staff is if their current employer has made a mistake with them [and they want to leave].”

But, while Oracle does continue to recruit externally for roles, the company would prefer to look for talent from within, Kearney added. “Nothing is more risky than recruiting from outside. It is hard to dig out the top people – our strategy is to grow within. You have to identify and develop talent at every level in your organisation to provide a regular snapshot that reflects change in the business environment and people, then you have to implement and manage change.

“Talent is dynamic and when someone is promoted, their performance will take some time to be great. Talent is about development, not promotion and compensation – so we keep this separate.”

His comments come a day after a report by Manpower Group found that only 12% of UK employers are providing additional learning and development to internal talent to enable them to move into hard to fill positions http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1019498/where-s-talent.

Kearney emphasised the role of leadership in building a talent pipeline. He said: “The most important talent is senior, because leaders’ decisions are crucial. We have a senior management development programme, we ask senior managers to complete psychometric tests and we need to see diversity in our managers – we would like them to have worked in different parts of the business.”

But, given that employee engagement has moved higher up the HR – as well as the governmental – agenda over the past two years, Kearney issued a stark warning to delegates, suggesting talent management should take precedence over engagement.

“Engagement is a good thing, but we are often ignoring skills and talent,” he said. “If you engage poor talent in your organisation, you are not going to get the outputs you want.”