Talent management checklist: rethinking human capital

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Leadership expert Claudio Fernández-Aráoz – dubbed by Businessweek as “one of the most influential executive search consultants in the world” – recently shared some advice in the Harvard Business Review for those in talent management positions.

Involve candidates’ references

According to Fernández-Aráoz, the recruitment process should involve a minimum of three people when hiring senior leaders: the hiring manager, the candidate’s boss and an HR chief.

“Engage in extensive reference checks to obtain a full understanding of how candidates perform in a leadership, collaborative and reporting point of view,” he said. “Ask each reference how the person handled various situations.”

Rethink and individualise your priorities

Use a robust model to identify essential indicators of potential, such as relentless determination to meet goals, the ability to persuade others, a curious nature and forward-looking thinking.

“Prioritise emotional intelligence over experience and IQ,” said Fernández-Aráoz. “Although the latter are useful, leaders who can’t build relationships are ineffective and often end up being terminated.”

He added that employers should align desirable traits of senior executives with business objectives and the nature of the organisation – and remember that hiring a new employee should be mutually beneficial.

“Offer horizontal opportunities to senior leaders, such as stretch assignments and international projects,” Fernández-Aráoz advised. “Aim for tasks that cause discomfort but are still achievable, as those offer the most valuable learning experiences.”
Fernández-Aráoz also offered some insights into best practice for progression planning.

“Transition executives into senior positions through a well-executed process consisting of culture training, information sharing and discussion of planned initiatives,” he said. “This integration is considered one of the areas of talent management with the highest ROI.”

Noticing and developing potential

Fernández-Aráoz recommended that leaders strive to identify the following indicators of high potential when assessing candidates:
  • Motivation: dedication to the selfless pursuit of team and organisation-minded goals
  • Curiosity: the desire to obtain new knowledge and a willingness to grow and change
  • Insight: the ability to collect new information and use it in strategic and unorthodox ways
  • Engagement: the ability to persuade others and connect them to the company vision
  • Determination: the ability to persevere through challenges and overcome obstacles

As well as identifying these, he advised employers to train line managers to assess job applicants’ potential by sharing best practice literature, simulating mock interviews and holding annual reviews to discuss how their newly hired candidates are performing.

Fernández-Aráoz advised managers that no career progression can be made without first establishing a foundation of requirements.

“Develop a common set of core competences required before promoting staff,” he said. “Examples may include expertise on the product market, team-building skills, experience in change management and analytical thinking.”

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