Talent management should be at the heart of any growth strategy

12 April 2016 Consultancy.uk

It’s a well-known saying in a human capital intensive industry such as management consulting: talent, with their skills and expertise, stand at the heart of a firm’s success. However, despite the market showing strong signs of growth there is still an industry-wide talent shortage which means holding onto talent is becoming an increasing concern for partners. For consultancies that feel they are losing the battle when it comes to staff retention, scrutinising talent management strategy and execution is key, says Neil Davidson, Vice President Enterprise at Deltek. 

So what exactly can firms do to combat this worrying trend? Davidson provides some simple tips on how to strengthen their talent strategy and secure the competitive advantage.

Approach talent management from the right angle
One reason talent management often fails in people-based business is that the responsibility of it gets assigned solely to the HR department. Consequently staff career progression is cut adrift from the firm’s operational processes such as resource planning and project management. In reality, what needs to happen is that a firm’s talent strategy should be aligned with the broader business operations ensuring the right people work on the right projects to allow business growth.

Synergise talent management with operational matters
Once consultancies have a handle on where talent management sits in the business, it is then according to Davidson important to weave it into the day-to-day running of the business. Taking this approach will mean firms are in a position to create talent-focused development strategies that resonate with key objectives for profitability and growth.

For example, it will mean that it is not only possible to establish just how serious the staff turnover rate is but also why people are leaving in the first place. This valuable insight gives decision makers the opportunity to act rather than sit by passively and question attrition rates.

Tallying talent with your KPIs
So how do you go about building a more meaningful talent management programme that better connects with the heart of the business? According to Davidson, it is best to refer to a company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) before forming any policies. “Take your company outgoings as an example. Perhaps your business data tells you you've overspent and believe recruitment costs have a part to play in this. Then, let's say you spot a notable trend whereby most resignations occur right after the successful completion of a project – maybe because they are being head-hunted at that time, you assume.”

With this in place, consultancies are in a position to do something about it. “You respond by creating a policy that'll see managers meeting with staff to discuss career development around this critical period. This turns out to be a step in the right direction – there is a distinct reduction in resignations as a result.”

Through the implementation of a data-led talent management programme, firms can, in Davidson’s eyes, successfully save money on recruitment and cut back on their expenditure as a result.

Implement a talent management system
Technology should play a central role when it comes to talent and a good talent management system will support the business at all levels of integration. However, at the same time, 60% of organisations don’t have a talent management system in place that is able to provide a deeper, more meaningful view of talent management. “With firms battling over consulting talent, it's a worrying trend that can have devastating consequences on growth”, comments Davidson.

He concludes by saying “If you want to do more to hold onto your staff and avoid the disruption and expense of hiring new people, perhaps reviewing your talent management approach and systems is a move you need to make.”

For more information about Deltek’s view on Talent Management download the guide ‘Retention and Development Strategies’.