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Managing talent isn’t solely the responsibility of HR

December 2, 2019
By Brian Kreissl

Welcome to my new blog on the Talent Canada website. I am excited to be a part of this new publication for senior business leaders on people issues in the workplace.

In terms of my background, I have more than eight years of blogging experience on human resources (HR) issues. I am a credentialed and experienced HR practitioner with over 20 years of HR-related experience with educational backgrounds in HR, business administration, law, leadership and adult education.

I am currently a product development manager at Thomson Reuters, where I develop and manage a portfolio of HR, occupational health and safety (OH&S) and payroll publications for the Canadian market. I am a published author, journalist and editor on HR and employment law issues and an experienced instructor, trainer and facilitator.

My professional interests include learning and development, talent management, employment policies, employee relations, organizational development, careers and talent acquisition. I will be writing on those topics and more not only from the perspective of the HR profession, but also by examining people-related issues from the viewpoint of senior business leaders in any function.


Business leaders need to be concerned with talent

Every business leader needs to be concerned with talent, which isn’t solely the responsibility of HR practitioners. While HR is there to advise, coach and act in a consultative capacity, develop managerial capability and design and implement the framework for HR programs, most people-related decisions are actually made by managers and leaders themselves.

These include decisions relating to employee selection, performance management, training, development, promotions, transfers, compensation, succession planning and even termination of employment. Because HR practitioners don’t know employees as well as their managers and have less insight into what’s required to be successful in the role, managers need to do the job of actually managing and leading people. This becomes even more important for senior business leaders.

I read a statistic a few years back that said up to half of a CEO’s time is spent on people-related issues. This is hardly surprising given fairly widespread talent and skills shortages, rapid technological advancement, social change, new and emerging business models, shifting customer demands, concerns about lack of adequate “bench strength” among aspiring leaders and fears about the disruption of so many functions and industries.

All of these changes mean talent management concerns are increasingly keeping CEOs and other business leaders up at night. This relates not only to concerns about talent acquisition, but also in relation to the effective development, deployment, management, retention, motivation, compensation and engagement of talent.

With employee compensation being the single largest expense in most industries, an organization’s workforce is a resource and investment that needs to be managed carefully and strategically. Talent management is a discipline that really views an organization’s employees from the often-repeated mantra that “our people are our greatest assets.”

While many organizations pay lip service to this concept, the truth is that a company’s people are the real source of competitive advantage for many organizations. The idea is to try to manage that resource holistically and in a manner that aligns with the organization’s overall strategy and its vision, mission and values.

What is talent?

Before we go any further, we should explore what I mean by “talent.” The term used to refer to innate abilities and aptitudes and was often used in relation to special gifts people had with respect to the arts or athletic endeavours.

While there is no question that innate abilities often impact how likely we are to be successful in any given role, we’re now beginning to realize that passion, hard work, learning and even experiencing failure are often more important than the talents we’re born with. This is similar to the “nature versus nurture” debate in psychology and is reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (along with coaching and moving beyond one’s comfort zone) is the minimum effort required to become an expert.

It is this type of “talent” we refer to in the HR profession. In that respect, we all have unique knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies, and these talents must be recognized and leveraged by our employers.

In many ways, the focus is on top talent, but even average performers have a role to play in most organizations. In the coming weeks, we’ll examine some of this in greater detail.

Brian Kreissl is a product development manager with Thomson Reuters in Toronto. He looks after HR, payroll, OH&S, records retention and Triform. He can be reached at brian.kreissl@thomsonreuters.com or (416) 609-5886. For more information, visit https://store.thomsonreuters.ca/en-ca/home.

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