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Small Business Talent during COVID-19

If you've found this post as you're thinking about how to handle a COVID-19 world, you might also be interested in my free ebook, Winning the Uncertainty: A Playbook for Strategy in Times of Survival, or my blog post on Winning the Uncertainty.

Your ability to grow your business is directly connected to your ability manage and develop your talent.
When a company starts, “talent management” is pretty simple – the person either works out (usually after a “sink or swim” introduction) or is rejected.  But as the company grows, and more people are needed…and more types of people are needed – and employees start to think about their careers rather than just their jobs – talent management offers many tools to engage and develop your employees.

WHAT IS TALENT MANAGEMENT

Talent management encompasses a range of approaches to ensure that your employees are getting the most out of their experience with your company – and your company is getting the most out of its employees.

 

WHY IS TALENT MANAGEMENT NEEDED

The need for more robust talent management arises when…

  • The business reaches Stage 2:  when your business is fewer than 20 employees, and certainly fewer than 10, you don’t need much talent management.  But with growth to 20 employees, and then to 50 employees, and then to 100 employees, you’ll need to upgrade your talent management as you hit each of those milestones

  • Employees are leaving:  if you’re losing employees – especially ones you want to keep – then you need to look at your talent management

  • Rapid growth:  during growth, employee issues mushroom, and more robust talent management is needed to stay on top of your growing needs

  • Change:  the hardest part of any change initiative is managing the people part of it, and talent management provides the tools to help employees make the changes that are needed

  • Morale:  many morale problems are because of a poor strategy, but some are because you’re not managing your people well enough and they lose faith in the business

 

BENEFITS OF TALENT MANAGEMENT

When you take a more strategic, proactive, and structured approach to managing your talent, there are a number of benefits:

  • Engagement:  employees will be more engaged in – and, therefore, productive at – their work

  • Fulfillment:  employees will be happier and want to stay with the company

  • Customers:  employees will provide better service and form deeper relationships with your customers

  • Profits:  employees will be more productive and will be better at cutting unnecessary costs and finding new opportunities

  • Recruiting:  you will have more “gravitational pull” to attract employees to your company

  • New potential:  employees will uncover new potential, and better fulfill the potential they have

 

ELEMENTS OF TALENT MANAGEMENT

There are 9 primary elements of talent management:

  • Strategy & Planning:  What skills will you need to grow your business?  What positions will you need to add, or expand?  What are the roles, and how will they change?  Talent strategy should be connected to your business strategy, and should answer these questions looking out 1-3 years.

  • Position planning:  what are the roles, responsibilities, expectations, and competencies of the job

  • Compensation:  employee pay has an important part in accomplishing a business strategy, keeping employees engaged and motivated, and driving business performance

  • Attraction/Recruiting/Hiring:  finding, attracting, evaluating, selecting, and “winning” the new people you want to add to your business

  • On-boarding:  helping new employees integrate into the position, team, and business

  • Performance and engagement:  improving employees’ performance by setting goals and expectations, providing constructive feedback, and rewarding performance

  • Development:  improving employees’ performance by providing them with new skills through learning, coaching, and work assignments

  • Career pathing:  defining the path and potential for the employee’s career development

  • Succession and exit:  defining and managing how the company will handle an employee’s departure, including the replacement for the role, and assisting the employee with moving on

 

HOW TALENT MANAGEMENT WORKS

To actually make talent management work, there are several skills, tools, and processes that you need to handle, including:

  • Talent management know-how:  there are better and worse ways to handle the 9 elements of talent management, so skill and judgment is needed to do the right things in the right way

  • Org chart:  who is responsible for what, and how is responsibility and accountability structured so that it is most productive for the business’ industry and strategy

  • Role descriptions:  what are the responsibilities, expectations, and competencies for each job

  • Performance reviews:  some companies prefer freeform written exchanges, others have a scoring framework, some have “stay interviews” monthly and others just do formal reviews once a year … but all companies should have some system of providing formal feedback to employees

  • Training, coaching, and mentoring programs:  whether it’s created by the company or hired/acquired from outside, every business should provide development support to employees

  • Project management:  your talent management efforts, like most business functions these days, will have improvement projects underway constantly – so the ability to manage those projects effectively is important

 

RISKS, ROADBLOCKS & CHALLENGES OF TALENT

  • People are hard!  We’re complex and emotional beings, connected to other complex and emotional beings, inside and outside the company. 

  • It’s personal!  At the heart of talent management is people, and the issues that concern them are personal.  That means people care more and can have stronger opinions, and you may have to work harder-than-expected at getting people to see the company’s perspective.

  • HR tactics can keep you busy.  HR administration and compliance can take a lot of time, not leave much for more strategic initiatives like planning, career pathing, and building a performance culture.

  • Conflict is hard.  A core capability for a growing business is the ability to have constructive conflict, and it’s the job of talent management to build the conflict “muscle.”

  • You’re probably not communicating enough.  Most successful leaders take a lot of time communicating with their organizations – they narrow in on a simple message to focus and motivate the organization, and then they reinforce that message nearly constantly, in all kinds of forums (company-wide, 1:1, newsletter, working groups).  That takes a lot of time and energy, and some leaders like communicating more than others.

  • Hiring is hard.  Even with a prolonged hiring process, we don’t have long to learn about someone – and vice versa.

  • Mistakes are expensive and hard to fix

 

THE ROI OF TALENT

Talent management creates ROI in several ways:

  • Better talent is more productive

  • Better talent finds new opportunity and thinks up better ideas to bring your company into the future

  • Better talent improves every aspect of your business that it touches

  • Better talent raises the energy level of your culture

  • Better talent ensures you have future leaders

  • Better talent attracts other better talent

© 2019 by Phimation Strategy Group | Ann Arbor, Michigan | USA                                                                               734.717.4955