How to Manage your Talented Employees as a Line Manager?

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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

How to Manage your Talented Employees as a Line Manager?

Since about a decade, the responsibility for talent management is being transfered to (front)line managers from the HR departments, partly as a result of cost saving attempts. It is increasingly recognized that frontline managers can simply deal with talent management better.
But then these frontline executives must develop the skills that help them deal with talent management issues. In the HBR of October 2013 Peter Cappelli presents 5 talent management best practices for line managers. Managers need to ask themselves the following questions:
1. What talent do we need? It is important to consider the quality of information about the talents we have. This is important since human resource issues are much more difficult to analyze and less predictable than for example new machinery. An example of the difficulties in human resource mentioned is the misconception that performance only depends on individual talent. However, it does not: it is about putting these talents in the right job.
2. How to acquire the needed talent? Three ways of meeting the needed talents are mentioned:
a. Buying talent (hiring)
b. Developing talent of current employees, and
c. Borrowing talent, for example temporary employees.
To choose the best option it is important to consider the costs involved, and to weigh the costs against the risk of going along with these three options. For example, the risk of buying talent is that it is a long-term process so that the chance that something goes wrong is high.
3. Hiring talent: How can we improve? This question is about the hard task of hiring talent which consists of two phases:
a. Recruitment of talent: a good recruiter attracts a small amount of high-quality and thus to avoid poor-quality ones; another feature of a good recruiter is finding “passive” but high-quality candidates.
b. The hard task of selecting: Applicants can lie about their experience and qualifications. Choosing the best hire is difficult for managers. Choosing may be affected by personal preferences. Outsourcing the hiring function is a solution to this problem of personal biases.
4. How to successfully develop the internal talent? The skills that need to be acquired can often be learned only on the job, the development of internal talent is often highly profitable. The best way to develop internal talent is – a form of learning by doing - using stretch assignments; direct supervisors who are able to recognize the moment an employee is ready for new challenges. Learning by doing also lessens the time an organization needs to wait for returns.
5. How to manage the career of talented employees? Proper career management is important because organizations need to find ways to retain their high-quality talents. Otherwise a lot of investment has been done for nothing. Retaining talents can be done by providing better development opportunities than others do. However a clear five-year plan for example cannot take into account all the changes in the business environment. The key is to create a “transparent internal market for talent”, according to Cappelli.
Source: Peter Cappelli, HR for Neophytes, HBR Oct 2013

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