Talent Pools- The Key for modern Talent Management

HR managers can arm themselves with the information they need on their workforce, if they were to maintain talent pools systematically. Though there are varying definitions of what a talent pool is, it is undeniably an objective source of information on the workforce’s capabilities and even capacities. While skills and tags are capabilities, headcounts in a pool, work experience speak etc. talk of capacities.

Talent pool data in Human Resource software tend to be a static snapshot of the past unless implemented right. Past performance, skills possessed are not valid data for the future, given the changing business conditions.

What worked once may not work again and hence formulaic approaches seldom deliver. History repeats itself implying that a lack of a long term approach from the past, guarantees failure in the future too.

Technology and product life cycles are short and funding flows in like it is from a contingency budget. Short lifecycles imply skills are also short lived. Contingency funding implies immediate action to staff emerging needs.

For instance, e-Store technologies are likely to reduce the need for retailing skills (say in consumer electronics). The need to match business inflow with outflow, means staff must be engaged at the right time and for the right duration. Permanent employment may be a myth with contingency staffing set to take off in a big way.

Talent pools have the potential to insure the future if implemented properly. What then must be done to bolster this information? If we can all agree that sir Isaac Newton was talented, then we have a working method to begin with.

“If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent”.

HR managers will immediately see what this implies. What is more important than the word talent is a behavior that brings out the talent. Newton says that patient attention – a distinct behavioral competency – has reaped him rich results.

In the science of talent management of today, managers require employees to practice behaviors of successful people. Standard operating procedures (SOP) are the simplest implementation of such a demand of managers. Employee suggestions, continuous quality improvement programs are all initiatives that build up from this thought.

Behaviors transcend time and technologies making them one of the permanent sources of value. Economists such as Thaler and Gilbert have predicted a behavioral engineering future for HR managers.

Calvin Coolidge (President of the US in the late 20s), while speaking on the subject of persistence had this to day about talent – “…Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent…” Persistence, again a behavioral attribute is emphasized here as are the unrewarded, talented many who missed this critical behavioral attribute.

Coming back to the subject of talent pools, while information on qualification, work experience, skills etc. are important, care should be taken to (1) capture behavioral data and (2) qualify the behaviors as those that deliver results.

This data usually flows in as behavioral competencies and / or behavioral performance data. They are validated for potency when they are displayed by successful people.

As an example, retailers are known to use the mystery shopper concept. An anonymous agent, the mystery shopper, is asked to shop at one of the retailer’s outlets. The agent checks for the behavior of the staff and the implementation of the SOPs. The way store clerks greet customers and engage them, the way the products are stacked, the general cleanliness etc. are all indicators of behaviors demanded and the execution of the SOP.

If the store’s sales matches behavioral demands, then retailer has the perfect model for a talent pool. All that remains is the scaling of the success model.

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