Throughout life, as human beings our goals and priorities have a tendency to shift.
We don’t want children, and then we do. We’re mobile and then we’re not. We care about promotional opportunities, and then we find the job we really want and settle down. We’re hungry to maximize earnings, and then we make “enough” and begin to focus on other things.
In this way life is much like a river’s current. It is always changing, and will never be exactly the same across any two moments in time.
This makes talent management difficult. When doing succession planning there is no way to really know just how well our best laid plans are going to work out. As HR professionals we encourage the business to invest time and resources to develop the people identified as future leaders… but there is still so much about those people that we just can’t predict.
Human beings are volatile… unpredictable. This reality doesn’t mesh too well with talent management, however, because succession planning is really all about molding future leaders via exposure to critical experiences. The idea that those experiences may not produce the desired effect from a developmental standpoint turns much of the succession planning process on its head.
I don’t really know how much of talent management is art and how much is science… I have a sneaking suspicion that neither component is the most important piece of the puzzle, though.
Instead, the focus should be on developing a well defined company culture that provides employees with the flexibility to identify their strength, weaknesses, likes, dislikes etc. This is how an organization stocks its benches with the right talent.
A company that gives its employees a firm sense of what it means to work there – and provides them with the opportunities to identify where they can make the biggest impact – is an organization that will always have the right people in the right jobs at the right time.