The Most Effective Talent Management (!?)

Copyright © 10/2023 ❘ The Enterneers®

How does your company handle staffing? Do you still have fixed job profiles within relatively rigid organizational units for which suitable candidates have to be recruited or developed? Is your company one of those that find it increasingly difficult to fill numerous vacancies while also dealing with enormous structural change tasks? The VUCA world, in combination with the demographic distortions, leads to significant challenges in the areas of personnel and organization. Perhaps considering the step towards talent-oriented organization and talent-oriented people management could also be a significant developmental opportunity for your company.

According to relevant research, many HR leaders see building critical skills and competencies as a top priority. However, many of them report that they cannot implement skill development solutions quickly enough to meet changing skill needs. Furthermore, in many companies, the skills that are necessary today may no longer be needed in their current form within a year or two.

Given the realisation that development and change cycles are becoming shorter than ever before in the global, digital age, there should be a radical rethink at the root of the talent management approach. Can it still be successful in the long run to attempt to ‘develop’ people's genetic as well as evolved abilities and interests (talents) to meet specific job requirements?

In companies that allocate tasks based on the skills of their employees, the talent strategy is much more oriented towards determining the best possible match between talent and task. Moreover, much of this approach revolves around creating the necessary framework for talent-based staffing. Companies that have successfully implemented this approach have noticed higher levels of employee motivation, faster training times and overall better adaptability among their employees. The reason is simple: when a person performs a job for which they are well qualified, and which corresponds to their interests or inclinations, they not only enjoy it but also find their way around the job more quickly.

Companies that want to shift their personnel and organisational structures from function-based job descriptions to talent-based tasks or roles face a major challenge. Work processes, tasks and interfaces need to be rethought and often reorganised in a smaller way to enable talent-based allocation or distribution. This challenge is likely to intensify as the degree of complexity of an area of activity and the diversity of skills required for it increase.


A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. An entrepreneur’s job is to build the foundation.


Brian Chesky


The dilemma is particularly evident in one area of activity: the so-called middle management. The positions at this level are often referred to as Group Managers, Team Managers or Department Managers. In practice, however, the tasks of these job holders do not consist predominantly of managing a group, team or department. Instead, they consist of a wide range of tasks.

Middle managers often find themselves in a sandwich position, with different operational matters and leadership responsibilities. Many of them are even involved in ongoing routine work, with deadlines and schedules. Consequently, they have a limited capacity to devote themselves to leadership. Rarely do personal talents align perfectly with this mixture of different activities. Depending on whether personal talents and preferences lie more on one side or the other, attention deficits and noticeable performance gaps can quickly arise.

Why not simply assign those who enjoy leadership work enough of it so that it fills 100% of their working time, even if this means leading a team with people performing diverse tasks? Why does it still have to be the most loyal or the best subject matter expert in the team who becomes the next team leader?

Another challenge with the talent-based approach is to consistently apply it to probationary periods, development interviews and internal recommendations. This means that if there is a clear misjudgement of talent regarding certain tasks, a consistent reallocation or reassignment must be applied. Otherwise, the entire approach risks being undermined. Moreover, this approach is likely to pose a challenge in many labour markets in terms of labour and the collective bargaining law, which may require involving trade union representatives and works councils.

Incidentally, the talent-based personnel approach also applies to the upper management levels. Even at the top, there are talents, inclinations and preferences that influence the decision about the allocation of tasks and activities within top management. Top management often aims to avoid getting involved in day-to-day operations but to keep the focus on leadership, strategy and change. However, the real talents and interests often lie elsewhere, and the so-called top leaders tend to get lost in micromanagement. The reasons are manifold, such as personal traits, character, ego or simply the respective talent.

Those who deal with this openly and engage in honest reflection can make a real difference in the management of talent in their company. A change at the root of the issue probably starts with questioning whether talent management is concerned with ‘developing’ people's skills so that they can take on existing jobs or whether it is about finding ways to transfer tasks more effectively to existing talents in the company.

If this small yet significant difference in orientation is put into practice, a potentially trend-setting strategic change project quickly emerges.


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