How can we reap the benefits of remote talent management?

Remote Talent Management sounds great in theory but is actually very challenging to put into practice. In this blog, we discuss the top 5 Talent Management dilemmas that organisations face in a remote working environment. We also explore how you can overcome these challenges, to ensure your people have a great experience.

Let us discuss each of these in turn:

1. ‘Talent Management’ is often seen as elitist and demotivational

One CEO that we work with hates the term ‘Talent Management’ with a passion. He is adamant that he would rather have 90% of the organisation focused on delivering their best rather than 10% being identified as ‘Talent’ and being seen to be given special treatment.

He would agree with the view put forward by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman authors of bestselling leadership book “Now discover your strengths”. They take the view that everyone has talents that should be utilised in the workplace. This article “How great managers define talent” explains this in simple terms.

Our view? We agree that everyone has talents and we need great managers to identify them to maximise their potential. Remote working brings the additional challenge of recognising people’s strengths remotely when certain behaviours are not so easily identified. Consequently, having the right talent management systems in place to identify good behaviour and key strengths is important as you will be able to group people into talent pools enabling further development. This is particularly important now as people want to progress in their careers and might not feel as though they have the same opportunities during Covid-19 as they did previously.

2. Managerial bias in assessing what is meant by ‘talent’?

Talent Management

Leaders set the tone for an organisation’s culture. Leadership attributes, attitudes and actions will set the agenda for how managers manage, and the extent to which employees feel engaged and connected. The tone they set will go a long way in shaping the organisation’s approaches to Talent Acquisition and Talent Management. This really can be a problem if you have short-term or siloed thinking from managers. Certainly, in a remote and hybrid work environment, it is vital to have wider talent pools that are visible company-wide to assist with specific challenges that arise in this changing climate. For example, if you need to quickly view staff that fit specific requirements to cover a fellow shielding employee. An effective talent management software should enable you to do this using a ‘Talent Search’.

Also, managerial bias can arise with succession planning, if the manager chooses ‘talent’ in their own likeness. The key to getting the best out of people is the skill of managers and they need to be developed to be objective about performance and talent assessment. The irony here is that the effectiveness of your remote people managers will directly correlate with the engagement and performance of all your people. Fortunately, many businesses are beginning to recognise the importance of these managerial skills in a remote and hybrid environment, and are thereby investing in virtual learning solutions.

3. Ineffective Talent Management processes

The right Talent Management technology should be able to give organisations all the information and data they need to be able to match the people and skills already within the business, against the vacancies that arise. Unfortunately for many, their technology doesn’t deliver. From our research, we found people complained of the data they need being siloed, neither transparently recorded or shared. This is particularly prevalent with performance data, one of the key drivers in deciding which employees progress internally. We found two-thirds of employees say it is easier to find a new role elsewhere than within their own company. With the right technology, that supports employees, and makes the necessary analytics available company-wide, internal transfers should become easier.

4. Believing that those labelled as ‘talent’ will automatically perform

Whether we have paid over the odds to recruit top talent into our organisation or we have internally recruited our top performer, we can’t expect them to automatically live up to their reputation. Talent is often situational and it is important to remember that everybody, no matter how talented, must still be well-managed. This can be particularly challenging in a remote environment, where onboarding processes and communication may fall short. By using onboarding systems, you can ensure a smooth transition by clearly identifying all the induction steps in one place.

In addition, we may even set higher expectations against those identified as talent. However, they may also have a high expectation of what they will get in terms of a psychological contract. Organisations fall short if they expect ‘new talent’ to just fix everything without any clarity of expectations and management. By using virtual check-ins, you can see the progress of the ‘new talent’, as well as clearly communicating your expectations. With the use of a good remote performance and talent management system, you can capture these conversations online and be able to review any objectives or short-term milestones as and when they are needed.

5. Opting for recruited ‘Talent’ rather than homegrown

Less than 5% of businesses look to fill new vacancies internally first and although there is some anecdotal evidence that this has begun to change during the Covid-19 pandemic, this was primarily due to businesses having external hiring freezes. Certainly, the cost of recruiting talent is well-known and a costly error for too many businesses. Some people are brilliant at presenting themselves well at interviews and may even be fabulous performers in another business. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will perform within your organisation – again a dependence on good remote people managers.

With homegrown ‘talent’ you know people’s foibles and they will be far more loyal than those brought in to change the world. The challenge for the homegrown is overcoming preconceptions within the business if they appear to change the status quo or jump management hierarchies. Certainly, this can be particularly hard in a remote environment, where communication with a larger audience is somewhat of a challenge. However, we would argue that if they are true talent, they can deal with this. Watch out if you do write people off internally – as homegrown talent is more cost-effective, lower risk, and motivational to others.

The impact of COVID-19 on Managing Talent Remotely

Clearly, COVID-19 has already had a significant impact on unemployment and the labour market. Research conducted by the CIPD found that 56% of employers believe that candidates are more cautious about moving jobs compared with a year ago. Despite this caution, over a third of employers (36%) anticipate increasing difficulties retaining talent. With the phased return to normality in progress, retention concerns will likely increase. Certainly, a business that focuses on employee development, encouraging its people to grow and develop with them, will benefit from improved engagement, retention and productivity. Therefore, we must continue to implement Talent Management best practices, in any way that we can.

For more on the topic of talent management, take a look at our free white paper below.

White Paper: How to Develop a Talent Management Strategy

Remote Performance Management Resources

Part of our ethos is to help build a better workplace for people, whatever their location. We achieve this through great performance management software, the HR Uprising Podcast, and a variety of free thought leadership resources. Therefore, if you would like to learn more about this topic, you can find some additional resources below.

White Paper: What is Succession Planning?

Listen to the HR Uprising Podcast: The Talent Management Myth