Managing Talent and Organizational Bench Strength: Are You Game-Ready?


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Read how to stay ahead of the game by integrating succession and career planning with a talent management strategy. Learn about the multi-generational workforce, the global war on talent, and preparing for succession planning and talent pipeline.

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Managing Talent and Organizational Bench Strength: Are You Game-Ready?

  1. 1. This article appeared in the APR MAY JUN 2012 issue of insiderPROFILES ( and appears here with permission from WIS PUBLISHING.Managing Talent and OrganizationalBench Strength: Are You Game-Ready?by Oliver Conze, Vice President, Solution Management, SAP andLillian Reaume, Vice President, Human Resources Center of Excellence, NakisaB uilding a winning team is all rookies, attempting to learn all they can in about bench strength. If you their first year. As leader of this motley crew, look at the composition of any the coach is responsible for keeping the play- sports team, you’ll see all types ers engaged, building a strong bench, and of talent: veterans, who think ensuring every position on the field is filledabout retirement and post-career; up-and- or ready to be filled with capable talent atcoming mavericks, focused on excelling and any given time, despite injuries or tradeobtaining the next endorsement deal; and deals — all in an effort to win the season. Subscribe today. Visit
  2. 2. As any sports fan knows, every season endures a range of highs and lows. And most often, it’s not the team with the strongest individual player that wins, but the team with the best bench strength. Build-91% of employees are ing a strong bench can be just as important as creating the starting line-up. Just like sports coaches, today’s human resources (HR) depart-willing to change jobs, ments face similar challenges. So, where does your organization stand in the rankings?but 55% of leaders are Meet Your Newest Team Members:not expecting it. The Millennials We are entering an unprecedented era comprised of a multi-generational workforce, which calls for new approaches to management. Workplace demographics now include three different genera- tions, meaning that fresh-out-of-college recruits will find themselves working alongside colleagues the same age as their grandparents. As 72 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) prepare for retirement, members of Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Generation Y (born between 1981 and 2000) are getting ready to fill their shoes. The impact of these changes will be significant; Generation Y, also known as the Millennials, is the biggest demographic to start work since the Baby Boomers, and is expected to make up 30% of the workforce by 2013. So how can HR prepare for the different working styles of a multi-generational workforce? Just like sports coaches, HR profession- als are responsible for managing this diverse mix. Inside every organization, the Millennials A multi-generational are demonstrating new ways of working. This technologically savvy generation is mobile, workforce calls for connected, flexible, and fluent in social net- working. As social media becomes an in- new approaches to tegral part of the work world, on the field and off, mobile devices are emerging as the management. Is your dominant communications and interaction platform, allowing employees to manage al- organization toeing most every aspect of their professional life. There are almost 1 billion people on Face- book, and over 4.6 billion cell phones are the line? in active use. Millennials sometimes refer to their mobile device as their “command center” and can’t imagine a day, much less a week, be- ing disconnected. For some, the work morning’s first task is to check Facebook on a smart phone. As these trends (often referred to as “business social”) continue to grow, so will their impact on HR. In past generations, loyalty to the enterprise was paramount; the ultimate goal was to attain a “job for life.” However, newer generations are a different breed that switch jobs on average every two years.1 Millenni- als are career-focused with high expectations for their development, and if their employers don’t meet their expectations, they won’t stick around for long. Subscribe today. Visit
  3. 3. Fighting the Global War for TalentWith the ability for people to easily and readilycollaborate and network, and with about 50%of people able to work remotely, it’s not ahuge surprise to see a decrease in employeeretention. In a recent survey, Express Em-ployment Professionals found that 77% ofleaders say retention was not a problem or Employees are increasinglyonly a slight problem in 2011.2 Yet, accord-ing to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, willing to switch jobs. What are you doing to keep them?91% of employees are willing to switchjobs, and 55% of leaders are not expectingit.3 In fact, according to a recent EmployeePerformance Survey, 21 million Americansare considering changing jobs in the nextyear.4 With the cost of employee turnoverestimated at up to 250% of the annual sal-ary per exiting employee, such effects couldbe detrimental to employee retention andorganizational growth. The global war for talent is continuing to be anissue in various regions and industries. While thespike in growth has slowed somewhat in China, Aus-tralia, India, and other parts of Southeast Asia, the over-all demand for talent everywhere has not. With talentalready in short supply, ensuring you can develop andkeep what you have and win over the talent you don’thave is critical to your organization’s success. We have all heard the stories of CEOs of largecompanies leaving with no replacement. Totalchaos ensues. Stock prices drop and share-holders are angry. This scenario is a night-mare for an HR professional. But with theright strategy and tools, you can avoid Social media has and will continue to play athis scenario and identify which positionsare at high risk, define how many peopleshould be ready if and when the needarises, and have clear insight into what role in finding, retaining, andtalent can fill them.What’s Your Game Plan for developing talent. OrganizationsStepping Up to the TalentManagement Plate? must speak the language ofEvidence shows that many organizationsare not prepared for succession manage- tomorrow’s top talent.ment. According to Bersin & Associates, 77% oforganizations have little or no view of existingtalent gaps in their business.5 This is not surpris-ing, considering that only 35% of organizations doany succession planning at all — and of that 35%,planning is only performed for the top 10% of the busi-ness. In a 2011 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, CEOsrated talent management as the number-one area wherethey expect dramatic change during the next year.6 Giventhis increased attention, it’s even more critical that HRexecutives set aside time to identify where they are and Subscribe today. Visit
  4. 4. HR must becomea strategic business where they need to be. It’s time for HR to step up to the plate.partner, driving What factors should organizations consider when developing an effective talent pipeline?executives to develop It starts with understanding how to engage the next generation of talent. As we’ve iden-a strategy that engages tified, Millennials are digitally aware, hyper- connected, and in control of their careers.the entire enterprise They are demanding more input into their advancement, and if they don’t receive this, theyin an ongoing, flexible won’t hesitate to switch teams. When developing talent management strategies, organizationstalent management must consider these new work styles. So, what should HR organizations do to create an effectiveprocess. talent pipeline? Build bench strength you can count on. Not only should you plan for emerging technologies like social media and mobility, but HR organizations must also ensure an iron-clad strategy for the age-old cliché: have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place (including remote workers), at the right time. To do this, you need the right information. And as we all know, with so much information out there, we can’t do it on our own. Choosing technology that caters and adapts to your business processes, not vice versa, is key. We need technology that has effective analyti- cal capabilities built-in so that we can construct the best strategy for our organization. With this technology, we can predict, execute, monitor, and analyze to make the correct decisions for our organization’s success. Choose the right tools for a winningEffective talent pipeline succession plan and talent pipeline. Choosing tools that speak the languagemanagement begins with of the Millennials, while still supporting your Generation Xers and Baby Boomers,effective information will help you retain and nurture talent. Solutions that allow your next-generation talent to interact with the latest technolo-management. gies, such as motivational games and social networking sites, will enable them to col- laborate and work in ways familiar to them. Flexible access to data anytime, anywhere, is also vital to maximize user adoption across all generations. Web-based, real-time solutions, delivered through a single, intuitive user inter- face and available on multiple devices, prove to be the most successful. Tools that incorporate these modern technologies will make talent easier to de- tect throughout the organization by creating a unique way for your employees to regularly chart and share their developmental aspirations. This will ultimately lead to higher engagement levels, better perception Subscribe today. Visit
  5. 5. Oliver Conze (oliver.of the value add of HR services, and increased is Vice Pres-retention rates. ident of Solution Management Develop a “people-centric” approach. It’s at SAP.  He leads the teamnot just about employing the latest technologies. responsible for strategy andOrganizations must develop a “people-centric”approach to succession planning in order to Go-to-Market for SAP’s global portfo-secure the commitment of talent. Research shows lio of talent management solutions, en-that Millennials expect regular and transpar- abling organizations to attract, retain,ent feedback on their progress and a clear idea develop, and better engage top talent.of where they are going and how they will be Oliver has been with SAP for over fiverewarded. Embedding career planning into the years in various positions in corporatesuccession planning process will provide valuableinformation for HR professionals, enabling them strategy, portfolio management, andto highlight potential multi-generational talent product management. Prior to SAP, Oli-from all areas of the organization. ver worked for an international manage- ment consulting firm. He holds master’sStay Ahead of the Game: Integrate degrees in management science fromSuccession and Career Planningwith an Enterprise-Wide Talent Stanford University and Karlsruhe Insti-Management Strategy tute of Technology, and a PhD in busi-To build a sustainable talent pipeline, succes- ness administration from the Universitysion planning can’t be managed as a standalone of St. Gallen.administrative HR activity, but must be part ofan integrated and enterprise-wide talent manage-ment program with career planning weaved into Lillian Reaume (lillian.the process. By integrating recruiting, compen- is thesation, and performance management systems, Vice President of Humanlearning and development programs, and men- Resources COE at Nakisa.torship and recognition programs, future maver- Her scope is to provideicks can be identified and cultivated at all levelsof the company, leading to a much more sustain- thought leadership and as-able bench. sist with the development of solutions To stay ahead of the game, HR must continu- for Nakisa’s global portfolio, enablingally have its finger on the pulse of business needs organizations in their strategic humanand make talent pipeline management part of resources efforts. Lillian also leads thethe company culture. HR departments must con-centrate on developing a strategy and a range HR team at Nakisa and has over 17of tools that provide real-time functionality and years of diverse senior leadership expe-engage every member of the enterprise in an rience in the automotive, financial, andongoing, flexible talent management process. By high-tech industries. Lillian holds a mas-doing this, organizations can ensure they have the ter’s degree in business administrationbest talent in the best place at the best time. Onlythen can HR “bring it home,” earning its seat in from the University of Windsor and isthe board room by delivering bottom-line bene- nearing completion of a PhD in businessfits and a sustainable, committed bench of players administration from Capella University.that will keep the organization on top of its gamefor seasons to come.1 Kaye, B. and Jordan-Evans, S. “Love ‘em or lose’em, getting good people to stay.” San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. (2008).2 ; Subscribe today. Visit