agent of arcadia

Developing talent for the new organization

In culture, Development, Inspire, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Development, Performance Management, Philosophy, Strategy, Training on September 6, 2016 at 2:52 am


Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2016 identified that:

“The ‘new organization’, as we call it, is built around highly empowered teams, driven by a new model of management, and led by a breed of younger, more globally diverse leaders. To lead this shift toward the new organization, CEOs and HR leaders are focused on understanding and creating a shared culture, designing a work environment that engages people, and constructing a new model of leadership and career development. In competition for skilled people, organizations are vying for top talent in a highly transparent job market and becoming laser-focused on their external employment brand.”

External employment brand is about the people feeding the culture internally. It is about a job being more than just a job. It is about a culture where every person passionately gives the best that they can to a cause they believe in the organization.

This is priceless.

There can be no separation between corporate culture and brand. An organization can have the best marketing and corporate communications aligned with a best practice business strategy to market its brand, but if its people do not believe the brand and what it stands for, they will not live it. And if they do not live it. You will hear it in their voice, see it in their actions, and feel it in their work.

This means that human resources (HR) and learning and development (L&D) professionals lend a powerful voice to the paradigm shift from the old organization to the new organization. And senior leaders need to listen to them. Because the competition for skilled people is high and organizations need to focus on developing their talent so they stand a chance of survival in the new world.

But how to do this?

Culture trumps strategy

American management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker once said:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

People make up the culture of an organization. It is the cumulative traits of those people that organically feeds the organization’s culture. It is the pervasive values, beliefs and attitudes that characterise a company.

In the move towards a new organization, there is a hunger for culture that encourages collaboration and communication. And HR professionals moving into the new organization are asking to feed culture. Why? Because there is no point having a brilliant strategy if your business culture is toxic. Before you start to blueprint what the culture is, it is important to understand that culture stems from job satisfaction.

Which leads us to a very important question: What exactly do people want from their jobs? Is it simply a matter of a higher salary? Or do they want security, good relationships with co-workers, opportunities for growth and advancement? Or perhaps something else altogether?

This is an important question, because it is at the root of motivation, indeed, the art of engaging members of your team in such a way that they give their very best performance. The danger here is presuming what motivates us also motivates others.

By identifying the most important factor that motivates a person at work, managers and leaders can then use this tool to enhance performance management conversations with staff and delegate appropriately. Because once you find out what makes your team tick, you can better engage and inspire them.

It is then that you start to feed a workforce that in turn, feeds the organization and culture. Once you feed the culture and nourish it, the people naturally want to give back to you.

Feeding a workforce that feeds the new organization

Clinical psychologist Frederick Herzberg identified that we have two sets of needs; one to avoid pain, and the other, to grow psychologically.

Touted as one of the great original minds of management and motivational theory, he was essentially concerned with people’s wellbeing at work. Herzberg was the first to show that satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work nearly always arose from different factors, and were not simply opposing reactions to the same factors, as was previously believed.

Herzberg identified that to feel satisfied in their jobs, people reached for motivators, talent development being one of them. In fact, talent development ticks at least three of the motivational factors as outlined by Herzberg. Talent development is also identified as the highest level of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where a person is said to realise their full potential.

This is where training, learning and development come in.

Business strategy should drive the talent development strategy

While culture is key, strategy too, needs to grow some wings. In the paradigm shift to the new organization, a company’s business strategy needs to adopt a robust talent development strategy. And the two need to align. The talent development strategy will ensure the goals of the business are achieved.

It’s integral for HR and Talent Acquisition Managers to work with senior leaders and CEOs to execute this shift.

The key to embracing and supporting talent development in embracing the shift towards the new organization is in ensuring a sound process that stems from a sound business strategy and that includes the following criteria:

  • Have a business strategy: Analyse where the business currently sits and where it wants to be.
  • Analyse your skills gap: Analyse what skills are required to get the business from here to there.
  • Close the gaps: And do this quickly. This is where training comes in to fill those skills gaps. Ensure that there is training not simply to meet ‘now’ needs, but also ‘future’ needs. Remember, training and talent development is cheaper than backfilling and re-hiring.
  • Plant and grow the right seeds: Who you hire and choose to promote is crucial to the culture. And if we have learned anything from this article, this includes the talent development subculture within the business.
  • Execute goal alignment: Have conversations to ensure individual and team goals continuously align with company goals. Quality check that training initiatives align with company goals, too.
  • Evaluate: Just as important is evaluating the success and wins as well as the effectiveness of the training initiative.

The human element

Developing talent is more than simply training. It is embracing an initiative where leaders coach and mentor their successors. There is much value in this. Sharing wisdom and knowledge being one. And learning from legacy experience being another. There is much value in what you can learn from conversations with people within the organization. So have those candid and mature conversations that you need to determine the strengths and development needs of your staff. Find what makes them tick, what helps them function, and what helps them excel.

And then you will find, you are back to where you were at the start where you need to feed the culture to ensure you also feed the strategy. Which starts the cycle again.

Copyright © Nina Mostafa 2016

This article originally appeared in Training & Development magazine August 2016 Vol 43 No 4, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development.


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