ed lawler blur hero.jpg

Put Talent First

It is time to move beyond saying that talent is an organization’s most important asset. Organizations need to behave in ways that recognize the strategic importance of talent, and to make design and strategy decisions based on their ability to attract and manage talent.

For decades, CEO’s have talked about people as their most important asset, but they have not behaved accordingly when it comes to developing their business strategies, their organization designs, and their talent management practices. It is imperative, in this day and age, that organizations make talent management a key part of their business strategy and management decision making.

How can they do this? First, they need to recognize that the business world has changed, and that talent is, in fact, the most important asset in almost all corporations. A number of major changes, including the globalization of business, advances in technology, and a rapid rate of change in the business environment, have made this happen. These changes have created a world where the manner in which organizations are staffed and their talent managed have become the major determinant of their effectiveness.

Positioning talent as the key driver of business effectiveness requires that organizations move away from the traditional job-based approach to organization design and management. They need to begin thinking about organization design and strategy with a focus on the competencies and capabilities that are needed in order to execute a business strategy. This competency analysis needs to be based on the tasks and activities that an organization needs to execute, rather than the development of job descriptions.

Organizations need to focus on the potential sources of the talent that is needed to implement business strategies. This analysis needs to consider multiple types of engagement relationships with talent, as well as whether it is best developed or recruited. It also needs to consider how that talent can best be organized and managed.

One key to effective strategic talent thinking in today’s world of work is looking beyond the job-based employee model of managing talent. What is particularly exciting and challenging about developing the right talent/business strategy combination for an organization is the number of options that can be considered and implemented given today’s business environment. Instead of simply looking at jobs and trying to fill them with employees, organizations now have multiple ways of obtaining the key talent they need in order to do the tasks that they require in order to implement their strategies. These include using gig talent, contract employees, and partnerships with other organizations that possess the type of talent and capabilities critical to getting a strategy implemented.

A second key to developing an effective talent and business strategy is making talent availability and talent management a driver of strategy, not just a consideration once a strategy is developed. In many cases, it can and should determine an organization’s strategy.

Read more 2017 talent predictions by other thought leaders.