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Forging the new talent compact

It is difficult to attract and keep top talent, acknowledges Douglas Ready, but he believes that your company’s culture and climate are ...

By Douglas A. Ready 01 June 2009

It is difficult to attract and keep top talent, acknowledges Douglas Ready, but he believes that your company’s culture and climate are key to creating a system that works.


Forging the new talent compactAttracting, engaging and retaining great people have never been easy for companies. By definition, great people have a great many options. Even in difficult economic times, companies must develop talent policies that will attract, motivate and retain the best talent; but I would argue that today’s talent challenges are tougher than ever before.

They don’t just feel tougher; they are tougher. A variety of factors are at play that present challenges for top teams and HR professionals looking to attract and retain the talent they need to get and stay out in front. Taken individually, these factors, while formidable, don’t appear to be overwhelming. But when we look at the factors as a series of forces coming together at the same time, we can see that a perfect storm is brewing in the global race for talent.

What are these forces? You may know exactly what they are, because you are probably facing them every day.

Globalization We used to think of globalization from a very ethnocentric perspective, asking questions such as: “In which countries should we pursue our growth objectives, selling which suite of products?” Today, of course, globalization is a double-edged sword, in that companies such as Tata Group, Lenovo and Cemex, once viewed as fledgling operators in obscure regions, are now recognized as serious competitors, not only for mature companies’ best customers but also for their top talent.

Adding to the fundamental challenge of globalization is the fact that most companies have targeted emerging markets as core to their growth plans. As such, companies are rushing into Greater China and Pacific Asia, India and the Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe, Brazil and other regions within Latin America. The talent management challenge is obvious: companies are struggling to understand how to identify, develop, engage and retain talent in these regions because they don’t understand the rules of engagement concerning how business is conducted there, let alone the factors that motivate behaviour of the people native to these regions.

Digitization and the knowledge economy A company’s capacity to innovate has always been key to its prospects for generating superior value for customers and shareholders. We just need to look at Honda, Research In Motion, Sony, Vestas, Tesco, Samsung or Facebook to see the benefits to these companies from focusing on process and product innovations. In most of these cases, the application of technology has produced cost, quality and customer experience advantages.

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