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Basant Chaudhary
Basant Chaudhary September 22, 2023, 8:20 pm
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One size does not fit all; choose appropriate methods

Time for a quick recap. My previous Business Sutra column headlined ‘Creating Talent Nurseries - I’ dwelt upon the dire need for talent creation by business corporations. The current dynamics of business and commerce is heavily dependent on innovation. Knowledge economy is fast replacing the old ways of business even in brick-and-mortar manufacturing. Knowledge and innovation are no longer limited to information technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics in the booming services sector. Whatever be the nature of business, smart innovation is the need of the hour.

But as you may have noticed, my previous column bemoans the fact that most companies in our part of the world pay little attention to talent creation within. This is despite the realisation that only talented personnel can come up with new and off-beat ideas, grow them and execute them. This can serve a company as insurance against perils and uncertainties lying in the future’s womb.

‘Creating Talent Nurseries – II’ takes off from there. I will try to touch upon means and ways of developing talent within a company.

Today, a very large number of employees are working for their companies from home. Thanks to the expansion of telecom and internet, the number of work-from-home employees is increasing. Non-employee service providers need not visit the client companies or reporting authorities as often as before. With geography becoming history, companies now have access to highly qualified, talented and experienced workers and managers from across the world. The talent pool is gaining both depth and size.

Before discussing ways to benefit from this talent bounty, let us check some trustworthy data about the need for talent upgrading and upskilling. You may find it surprising that many employees in the west are choosing companies on the basis of learning opportunities there. According to 2021 Gartner research, 58% of employees will need new skills to navigate their career journey successfully. Gallup has identified lack of growth opportunities as the foremost reason for employees quitting companies. McKinsey & Company recently stated that 40% of employees are always likely to change jobs within six months. At the same time, McKinsey asserts “…that an overly transactional workplace and lack of development and advancement opportunities are key drivers of employee turnover.” The leading consultancy firm says that ‘targeted talent development’ programmes can counteract this trend. According to Inc, companies known for developing and training their employees do better than competitors in recruiting and retaining talented employees. This is hardly surprising in view of Inc’s finding that growth and training opportunities serve as a magnet for 90% of job applicants.

Though these findings come mostly from the west and Japan who are known for path-breaking research and extensive surveys, I see no reason why the outcome of such empirical studies should not have universal application with some culture-specific alterations and tweaks here and there. I have witnessed implementation of HR interventions based on hard data in Nepal and many neighbouring countries sharing the same social and work culture. The results have invariably been encouraging.

Coming to exact methods of developing talent, one cannot prescribe a one-size-fits-all module. Different companies and even employees from the same company may require varied methods to sharpen existing skills – both hard and soft. Never undermine the value of soft skills like communication and interpersonal relationship, work ethic, problem solving, time management, conflict resolution, critical thinking, leadership, emotional intelligence, teamwork, adaptability, etc. These along with other soft traits form the bedrock of lasting talents.

Issues before launching talent development programme:

Before a company embarks upon a continuous and sustained talent development programme, it should first create a mind-set for learning, growing and improving. The company bosses should ask whether they are mentally prepared to reward employees who display progression during the programme.

It should be clear whether the company is willing to invest money, time and effort, not necessarily in that order though, for growing development internally. As all trainers and mentors may not be available in the company, is the organisation ready to hire external consultants charging considerable fees?

Is the company ready to run the training for the required length of time, even if in broken spells? A single spell of rain, however bountiful, does not bear fruit.

Is the company prepared to adjust and adapt to the situation created by talent development? Trainee employees may become extra inquisitive about their roles and the company’s working, all with the best of intentions, but the company bosses and top managers may not yet be ready to deal with this behaviour. Talent development, as you can see, can prove to be a strategic decision.

There is nothing exotic or alien about talent development. (i) Senior and accomplished managers can work closely with talent potentials to build and strengthen selected and actionable strengths and weaknesses. (ii) Several companies run upgradable internal training 24X7. Such programmes are digital in nature. Employees are provided passwords to online programmes selected for them. Built and run by established corporate training organisations, completion of these programmes after a digital test leads to the award of recognised certification. (iii) Hybrid training involves a mix of internal, external and online training and is gaining popularity. (iv) Mentorship by senior managers has been found to be highly useful, particularly in the realm of soft skills and interpersonal behaviour, young managers perceived as future leaders. May the tribe of the talented grow!

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APRIL 2024

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