Harmonising Talent with Business Strategies: A Strategic Imperative for Learning and Development Professionals

There has never been a more pressing time for organisations to focus on their people. Political developments, economic uncertainty and the enduring pace of innovative and technological advances are ensuring that individuals, specifically those within a ‘talent bracket’, will quickly dictate their own career trajectories if their employing organisation is unable to create challenging, robust and rewarding development interventions to support their personal growth. Research of over 1,200 global firms from The Boston Consulting Group advises that companies that scored well on talent management and leadership grew their revenues 2.2 times faster than those that ranked lowest for these development areas. With hiring trends slowing, companies can adopt changes that will improve talent satisfaction in the long term (Randstad, 2023).

We have long since moved into the period where the greatest volume of those employed sits within the ‘millennial’ bracket (roughly 2018). The advancement of technology and the creation and development of ‘personal brands’ and mediums through which to self-promote one’s skills (LinkedIn) means that organisations find themselves competing within a sellers’ market. In itself, this is a unique lever that is affecting the playing field, yet the underlying question it gives rise to is the same as has been seen in previous iterations, how do organisations retain and attract the best people?

Forget weaponised terms.

There isn’t, and never has been, a “War on Talent”. Such terms are simplistic and binary, created by powerful consulting firms to develop sub-industries to sell their services. They offer little to aid a considered view of how to develop/retain talent.  Since the relative economic stability of the Second World War, organisations have always been in the market for their competitor’s talent. The only thing that changes is the weight of the push or pull of internal and external influences, be they political, economic, technological, or any of a number of variables at play. The underlying causes may vary, but the reason for them remains consistent – ‘others’ want your top talent for themselves.  Why wouldn’t they? Similarly, by their nature, talented people will always seek advancement, and companies will always be looking for such people.

Addressing the Challenge in Today’s Market

Innovation Central believes that the first stage of any solid talent strategy is to articulate exactly what talent looks like for the firm. Talent is as unique to each organisation as is its culture. By defining the parameters of the term and taking steps to ensure talent is visible and critical to the business, people can familiarise themselves with, buy into and trust in the concept.

In order to define talent, an organisation must have a clear grasp of its strategic direction and imperatives for the future. What exactly is the business trying to achieve, and by when? From here, it is possible to identify the roles and responsibilities that will play a crucial role in facilitating and delivering its strategic vision; more specifically, the competencies (skills, knowledge, behaviours and attributes) and capabilities that underpin these roles now and in the future. From here, reviewing if you have the best people in these crucial roles is possible. If not, why not and how do you ensure they are? If they are, what is the depth of talent that sits in and around them?

There needs to be a symbiotic relationship between an organisation’s business and talent strategies; each needs the other to succeed. Talent Management is built upon well-executed, adaptable plans and processes that articulate and implement the steps needed to proceed to the desired future (Conger & Pillans 2016).

By articulating what the business wants from its talent, assessing what roles are crucial to the delivery of its business strategy, and simultaneously reviewing the depth of talent that currently sits within the business, it gives rise to the opportunity for an organisation to articulate a coherent narrative to support its recruitment and retention initiatives that will support its ‘pool’. Put simply; the business is clear on what it wants to achieve, knows how it will achieve it, and is best positioned to produce a clearer proposition to market to internal and external talent.

  • Conger, J.A and Pillans, G. (2016). Rethinking Talent Management. London: The Corporate Research Forum.
  • Randstad Sourceright (2023). 2023’s top 10 global talent trends.