Talent Management in a down market

Reading my feeds, news reports and email lists everyday it would seem that the world is coming to an end. Jobs are being lost, organisations are cutting back, contracts are on hold, revenues are down, generally things are bad. I know personally that business has dried up very quickly in the last 2 months.


Image from All Media Cartoons

Which brings me to talent management and the role it plans in this market. Managing talent is not just hiring, it is also about developing the good employees, and removing the poor performers. When organisations need to cut back, having a good understanding of your talent pool is critical. 

There are options features within most existing HR systems that can be used to support the potential downsizing activities of organisations.  The features needed include workforce planning, recruiting, performance, competency, learning management, succession & career planning, compensation management. Sometimes information from modules such as eLearning, training administration, and core position management are needed as well.  There are specialised tools within the HR systems framework called Talent Management Software (TMS) to support these functions and processes.

When an organisation plans a downsizing activity the workforce planning, performance management, succession planning and competency management features within the system would ideally be used as part of the decision process. Core being workforce planning, however findings from a 2008 Taleo Research report “Unified Talent Management: Vital for Australian Business Performance” indicate that 80% of organisations in Australia do not include their entire workforce the workforce planning activities instead it is usually restricted to either senior management or just high potential employees. 

So without a TMS implemented across the whole workforce most organisations are unable to clearly identify the impact of cutting certain roles from the organisation. They have no way of knowing, without significant manual work, what knowledge will exit with people on the downsizing list, what projects they were working nor the potential future roles the person currently filling the role could have filled. 

Organisations could be relying on “best guesses”, “hunches”, word of mouth or immediate manager recommendations, when identifying which roles stay and which go! At best they might have previous performance review data, at worse nothing. 

Organisations who have invested in talent management over the last few years should now have a very clear view on the impact of any downsizing decisions. Organisations without, well they might just go out of business.

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