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What Is Top Of Mind For Europe’s Best Talent Managers?

To say it is a complicated time in the world of talent management is to perhaps understate things. With the pandemic, the subsequent ‘Great Resignation’, the ongoing skills gap crisis and continued economic tumult, good talent management has never been more critical.

Beamery representatives were lucky to be in a room full of the continent’s best HR practitioners at the Talent Management Reloaded Conference in Berlin last week, and here’s what we heard…

Succession planning makes Talent Management teams central to business continuity and growth

It has long been said that people are a company’s most valuable assets. So when people in key roles leave, for one reason or another, having a plan to replace them is key. 

Marilyn Kronenberg, Head of Executive Education, Talent Accelerators and Organizational Development at Sanofi, said that they have internal employees who are ‘1-2 years’, ‘3-5 years’ and ‘further away’ from being able to succeed the person currently in the role. This is perhaps the most sophisticated plan we’ve heard, but by no means the only one. 

Novartis’ Susan De Bourcy, Global Head Talent Management Strategy and Innovation, shared their approach. They aim to have up to 2 people ‘on the bench’ for their most important roles – the key to getting this right is to know the most critical roles in the company. This is a negotiation between the leadership of the organization (top down) and the line managers who know the people who actually deliver on the mission-critical work.

AGFA’s Yvonne Hendrick, Global Head of Learning and Development, even shared their 4-step approach: 

  1. Train HR Business Partners
  2. Identify ‘enterprise key roles’
  3. Assess and calibrate incumbents
  4. Assess bench against enterprise key roles

They then strive for 3 successors across each role.

With over half of respondents in our Talent Index survey suggesting they were leaving, or considering leaving, their role in the next 12 months… What is your company’s succession plan for key roles? 

Talent retention and knowledge sharing is growing in importance

Succession planning can only work if the key employees, those earmarked for future roles, stay in the company. And with the well-known skills gap only expanding, it’s all the more crucial to retain those who already have the basic knowledge needed in the business.

88% of business leaders tell us that acquiring and retaining employees is more important to them now than it was 18 months ago. Indeed, Alessandro Alessandrini, Head of Workforce & Workplace at Airbus, said unequivocally that they are investing more time and energy into retention than attraction now. They focus on understanding employees’ reasons to stay and customizing plans for each of them. After all, it is a huge challenge to hold on to engineers (who typically enjoy working on cutting edge tech) to keep their planes (equipped with 80s and 90s tech) functioning! 

In a similar vein, Puma’s Shruti Mishra, Team Head People Connection and Attraction, said they invite their employees to family days and provide childminders to ensure they are keeping employees engaged and happy.

During one discussion, the point was raised by a talent leader from Lego that much of the work done in companies these days is shared via the cloud. This should theoretically mean that the knowledge stays within the company. However, one has to realize that having access to knowledge does not mean it is actually in use. And so hackathons, academies, and team/company level knowledge sharing sessions are crucial. These kinds of trainings are two-sided, require active engagement, and can therefore force innovation and ultimately narrow the skills gap.

Talent Intelligence (clean, meaningful and regularly refreshed data) is a must

Almost all the successful projects we heard about, from succession planning, to upskilling programmes, all the way to employer branding, were backed by quantitative and qualitative insights.

Staying on top of ever-expanding workforces (especially considering remote and hybrid working) is not easy, but it is critical. Strong people analytics teams need to run data processes that are accessible, useful and evolving. AI was rarely mentioned, but there was consensus that a good ATS, HRIS, and perhaps even a CRM is a must.

One saving grace is that, as with most newly established processes, it gets easier after you’ve done it once. After a cadence of data input and enhancement is established, future iterations become easier. Start small. Good is better than perfect!

Representatives from Philips shared that, while one part of their huge organization is undergoing a transformation, the other part still follows more established processes. Hence the required skills vary, and perhaps they’ll have more data for one part or the other. But every organization has to start tracking their employee data at some point.

Israa Abdallah, Global Talent Management Project Coordinator at DHL, shared that improvements in the the data they have has to be coupled with increased data literacy across the organization. It is a shared responsibility. 

Find out how we have helped the likes of VMWare, Jabil and Astra Zeneca make the most of their talent data.

Exciting times ahead

Beamery left the Berlin event with the distinct impression that talent management’s role has never been more important and integral to the outcomes of an organization. To continue the conversation and to hear how Beamery believes talent managers can empower their talent, watch our on-demand webinar.