Case Study: Talent Management at Al Bustan Centre & Residence

Talent Management is an interesting subject to explore today more than yesterday!

Ever since the study of McKinsey in the late 1990’s & the subsequent “The War for Talent” by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones and Beth Axelrod, this topic has been a hit over the last decade. However, are we exerting enough efforts to benefit from Talent Management at a time when the performance of people is a core business challenge? Are we paying enough attention to the key areas in Talent Management that can help organizations develop high performing teams?

In order for an organization to benefit from Talent Management, various activities should be carried out. These activities include identifying, attracting, developing, rewarding, retaining and assigning talents. These key activities in Talent Management require a high level of commitment from top management and from the other management representatives as well.

Identifying talents is an important step in the process. One of the best practices we use at Al Bustan Centre & Residence is a “skills inventory system”, which entails a form to be filled in by all colleagues. This helps us to identify skills and various talents that are already available within the organization and ready to be tapped into for future vacancies and career development. Certain talents are not directly related to their main job function but still it is important for us to know. Based on this, we have developed a talent pool that is referred to as the base for talent management. Apart from this, manager’s feedback, performance appraisals and survey results help in the process as other resources.

Attracting talents is another step and is a key challenge for organizations today. Therefore, staying on the lookout for talents is an important task for any organization. Head hunting, networking and direct referrals will never fail when it comes to attracting talents.

Developing talents is a major task that needs to be properly planned and executed. The best practice at Al Bustan Centre & Residence is the Career Development Program (CDP) for the potential staff. Through this program, potential staff are evaluated based on a future target position, to identify the development gap. Then, based on the development gap, the activities are planned vis-à-vis the objectives that need to be achieved. The duration of the plan depends on the activities planned. Assessments are carried out at regular intervals to ensure that they are on the right track and to collect feedback. We have seen many of the senior management/department heads developing themselves with the help of the CDP (Career Development Plan) committee and mentors over the years. Today, they take pride in their own development and serve as an inspiration to the others.

Rewarding and retaining talents requires use of multiple strategies, especially in a fast paced business environment where a lot of other attractive opportunities boom. The authors of “The War for Talents” exposed and stressed on following new ethics against the old ethics.

  • Invest accordingly in people who are talented and perform much better than others.
  • Give best performers a lot more money than average performers.
  • Look objectively at managers who have been working for a long time, and be fair to those who work under them.
  • Be aware that managers need to know they are valued.
  • Let managers know that they have a responsibility to discuss their people rather than seeing it as “talking behind their back”.
  • Differentiation based on performance drives individual and company performance rather than undifferentiated praise.

Many organizations tend to treat everyone the same way to stay away from trouble when it comes to reward and recognition. While it is important to note that everyone deserves to be treated fairly, it is also important to note that the best performers are not treated in the same way as the average or poor performers through the reward and recognition system. Although this is easier said than done, this forms one of the most important parts of Talent Management.

Again, I would like to highlight some of the best practices used at Al Bustan Centre & Residence. The company has an overall approach to its compensation and benefits system. This is based on the established grading system that is regularly reviewed, along with individual performance which relates to individuals’ efforts that influence the overall performance of the company and loyalty. This strategic system quite simply ensures not only that high performing individuals are rewarded well, but their rewards get better as they continue to improve their performance and stay longer with the organization.

While it is important to identify, attract, develop and retain talents, it is equally important to assign the right talent for the right assignment. Ongoing discussion with the talents, feedback and close monitoring of the performance records will help identify if the right person is working on the right task. Some of the practices used at Al Bustan Centre & Residence include departmental and job trainings, job rotation, cross exposure programs and restructuring. This helps us to look at the existing performance with fresh eyes and gives us the ability to identify any area that could perform better.

While retaining high performing talents, identifying and developing those who have the potential, and investing accordingly on those who perform below expectations, we need to have a plan to deal with those who continue to perform below expectations in spite of the development efforts by the organization. The organization needs to act decisively on this today and actively seek to attract talents while analyzing the root causes for below expected performance.

Talent Management is a process that can bring many solutions to the various challenges we are facing today, where many of these challenges are people related. When Talent Management is in place and is effective, individuals perform better; it has its own wave effect where many others are inspired to perform better. Therefore, it is paramount today that organizations pay full attention to the key areas in Talent Management to evaluate their own processes and to ensure that the benefits of Talent Management are evident.

Aruna Siriwardane is Training Manager for Al Bustan Centre & Residence, Dubai, UAE.

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