Focus, focus, focus…

4 01 2012

The stock markets may all be up on the first trading day of 2012, but it doesn’t take a Nobel Laureate to see that we are in for a rocky ride for several years to come (actually, just looking back to the first – equally positive – trading day of 2011 might be enough!) What though is the likely impact on professionals engaged in HR and talent management?

If my own network of friends and clients is anything to go by, then it will simply be 10x increase in focus: specifically, focus on delivering the right person for each role, right now.

That sounds fairly harmless until you consider what decreases as focus increases: depth-of-field. In other words, as a single issue comes into sharp relief, issues just a fraction closer or further out become blurred. In the case of a relentless focus on delivering razor-sharp talent for vacancies as they appear, I would expect that longer term programmes for the development of talent pipelines will slip out of focus. That means that the role of the professional HR or talent management specialist is to be able to find more efficient, cost-effective ways of keeping building that pipeline without being able to get major focus or commitment from senior management for the foreseeable future. Your senior management are trying to finesse sustained growth against a backdrop of almost total economic uncertainty; their tolerance for the medium- and long-term proposals you make will be very limited.

Every challenge is a (possibly very well disguised) opportunity.  Sharpen your own game. Have you got a clear picture of the reservoirs and flows of talent through the organization? Your FD can map out the reservoirs and flows of money through the organization; being able to do the same for talent is a perfectly reasonable expectation. (If your current toolset doesn’t seem to cover this, elaura.com/imagine may help.)

When  you can map talent accurately like this, then filling vacancies won’t be a mad scramble to analyse each role as a one-off, but rather a strategic exercise where you know 80% of the answer before you even know the specific role you are being asked to fill. You will satisfy the focus demanded by your senior management without actually losing sight of the bigger picture.