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Home » Leadership, Talent

Talent management

Submitted by on Monday, 29 August 2011One Comment

Talent management is increasingly critical for companies where winning the war for talent is central to success in Asia, yet time and again we come across these companies making major errors in their talent management processes.

This recent article over at The Telegraph highlights some of these errors, and it’s true these problems are not limited to Asia alone.

The Talent Management mistakes companies make

It all starts with the hiring process, as the article identifies. It’s amazing that managers routinely complain ‘we just can’t find the talent’, when what they really mean is ‘I didn’t like the interviewee’.

In Asia’s collective cultures, ‘liking someone’ seems to be an essential, if unspoken, hiring criterion – yet it’s one that starves companies of perfectly good Talent. Worse, multinationals seem to encourage this with their demands to hire people with ‘good cultural fit’ – which is usually interpreted as ‘liking’ someone. As innovation expert Stephen Shapiro notes here, ‘hiring people you like’ is so often an organisational innovation destroyer.

If ‘hiring for personality’ is the #1 mistake companies make at hiring stage, then ‘hiring for experience’ comes in close behind at #2.

Peter Drucker, of course, was  sceptical of experience saying that an experienced manager ‘could just be one who has done the same thing over and over again (unsuccessfully) multiple times.’

We won’t go into this in detail – though it’s worth noting that HR professionals value experience because in many cases it helps them ‘cover their arse’ by being able to point to track record.

The #3 mistake companies make is hiring for Education. Again, HR departments will typically display a strong bias to candidates from a good school because, as the saying goes, no-one got fired for buying IBM.

However, hiring for Education doesn’t necessarily give companies the Talent they require.

What companies can do

So there we have the 3 most common mistakes companies make when hiring in Asia: hiring for Personality, hiring for Experience and hiring for Education.

What should companies be looking for instead?

The answer: hire for Strengths and Skills.

In a previous article we looked at the key components of the human resource globally using an easy-to-understand, one page graphic.

The sad thing? – Show this graphic to most HR professionals in Asia and they will not understand it.

This is why, time and again, perfectly good candidates are being rejected because the interviewer ‘doesn’t like the person’ (read cultural fit), or thinks they ‘lack the necessary experience’, as the Telegraph article touched on.

We have witnessed dozens of companies that are dysfunctional in Asia simply because the managers ‘hire after themselves’ – i.e. in the same personality type. However, as The Telegraph article has shown, this can lead to a serious lack of innovation as well as big service gaps as the whole corporate culture becomes monotype.

Companies wishing to change this state of affiars and seriously improve their talent management processes can do the following:

1. Run Talent Factor with everyone your management team. This powerful one day programme will identify their Strengths, Skills and Talent Gaps in their departments and business units.

2. Develop a Talent-grade hiring process using the ‘First Who, then What’ template from Jim Collins’ Good to Great. We help you implement that.

And the alternative is…

Leaving things as they are – with the serious wastage of Talent that we are seeing in Asia among companies, will continue to doom companies to missed targets, high staff turnover, poor customer satisfaction, low engagement levels, skills gaps and poor innovation. In sum – a basketful of headaches and costs.

Given that talent management gaps are felt more acutely in Asia than in the UK or the West, is this a state of affairs that can really go on?


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