No Matter What Size Your Company Is!
I was working with a client who runs a small IT strategy consulting firm on an ROI project. They usually hire out their employees (mostly project managers and other project support personnel) to work on client IT implementation projects. Over coffee recently the client (we’ll call him Adam for the purposes of this case study) mentioned that he was beginning to get worried that some of his employees would look to move to larger organizations where there were more opportunities for them for growth. Certainly the benefits at his company were good – matching 401K contribution, 3 weeks vacation to start, attendance at conferences, plus lots of flexibility for employees, to name a few benefits. No one had left yet, but Adam just figured with the market opening up he didn’t want to lose his good people. During the past couple of years, he had not done any layoffs nor reduced pay and, in fact, had managed to pay out some small bonuses. Still, he was concerned. Adam had been reading quite a bit recently about talent management and wanted to find a way to make it work for his company. Adam does provide training for his employees – he pays for up to 5 days of training a year for them on a business-related topic of their choice – such as time management, project scheduling, communications, etc. All employees take advantage of the training – he actually approaches employees he are not using their 5 days to help them select programs that are of interest to them. Additionally, for employees interested in certification, Adam has paid for the certification training and the cost of obtaining certification.
We can agree – for a small business during tough times Adam was doing lots of good things! But what else could he be doing…
What is Talent Management?
Talent management has a variety of definitions depending on the company defining it. It encompasses recruiting employees, onboarding them into the organization, providing them professional development opportunities, performance management activities, career path development and succession planning.
According to Wikipedia, talent management is defined as the process of developing and integrating new employees, developing and retaining current employees, and attracting highly skilled employees to work for a particular company. Talent management is also frequently called Human Capital Management by many larger organizations.
Back to the case study…
As we talked and drank coffee (lots of coffee!), Adam and I discussed ways he could continue to develop his employees (manage his talent) given the small size of his business and the competitive landscape. Here is what we brainstormed as all viable options:
- Provide mentoring opportunities – more senior people paired up with more junior people (internal to the company), pair up senior people with others outside the company
- Provide continuous learning opportunities by ensuring individuals learn something new on each project – provide them opportunities to work on a task or project component they haven’t worked on before
- Ensure that, in addition to performance management sessions discussing how they met the company’s goals, including a component of their personal professional goals and objectives and providing opportunities to meet those goals
- Provide senior employees more access to learning more about the business – participation in strategy sessions, etc.
- Provide tuition reimbursement options for degree programs (in addition to 5 days of training paid for by company)
- Support employees who are blogging, using social media, etc. in aligning what they are doing with the company
- Support employees in representing the company at conferences by presenting/speaking opportunities
After our session, Adam had a list of ideas he could run with. All viable options that would work in his small company with a bit of planning. In addition, the biggest idea of all…he was going to go back to his employees and in the upcoming "all hands" meeting, get their ideas! What could he do to help them develop themselves professional and personally.
Regardless of the size of your company, there are a variety of ways to incorporate talent management practices. In a smaller company, I have seen great value in getting employees involved in the process. While you may not be able to compete with big salaries provided by larger organizations, bear in mind salary is rarely a deciding factor for employees – so much more is important to them over salary. For Adam’s employees, the flexibility he provided in balancing work and personal life and his ability to review and discuss news ways of helping them to develop themselves personally and professionally was a significant factor. This also enabled Adam to recruit individuals with outstanding backgrounds…often from some of the larger companies!
Your thoughts? How might you incorporate talent management practices into a smaller business? As an employee, what would you like to see from your employer? Please share with others in the Comments field below. Thanks!