Generational Talent Management

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There is no end to the list of topics that can be debated on nearly every topic conceived within the human resources space.  One that gets a lot of attention is the generational divide.  For the first time in history, the workforce comprises five generations.


Source:  Industry Week

In recent memory, much of the debate has focused on Millennials primarily and with good reason.

As a result, many of the strategies HR professionals create and/or implement today have a heavy focus on Millennial workers.  A question that must be considered as a result of that is this:  does there need to be a shift in focus, even slightly, to a multigenerational approach?

Generational Talent Management

Where to Begin?

In terms of talent management, it's important to move the debate away from the generational differences that exist between groups in the workplace. Don't exclude it, just make it another variable when designing and/or implementing the strategy. The result is a generational talent management strategy.

So, what are the challenges; what keeps members of the HR community awake at night when it comes to this topic?

  • Career development
  • Talent mobility
  • Modernization

 Learn by doing

As with many HR concepts, career development falls under multiple areas. For Orlando Health, former corporate director of talent Wendy Radeka said it fell under talent acquisition and talent development. In fact, for the company… a bridge did not exist between talent acquisition and an employee attempting to develop themselves.

RELATED:  Talent Management – A Guide for HR

Her solution to the problem began with cross training members of each team; talent acquisition and talent development.

"I started having team members from the talent acquisition team participate in some talent development activities such as orientation," Radeka said.  "So, that it wasn't just a handoff after the new hire started. They would actually go to orientation and see some of the challenges and issues with the handoff." Radeka did the same for team members under talent development.

Mobility for Talent

Radeka said the biggest shift in developing talent has been to move the responsibility away from managers and give it to HR professionals; the ones who own the opportunities.

"If I have a thousand jobs, I'm the one who needs to help people get into them… not a manager who wants you to stay put because you're their A Player," Radeka said. "I think that's false to put the burden on the manager that's currently over the team member to develop them into their next position."

For Radeka, it went back to one simple statement: "If you're not replaceable, you're not promotable."

Radeka said that goes hand in hand with talent mobility. She says it's important to give people opportunities.

"It's the exposure and I know I've always learned or gotten ahead or grown professionally when people have given me exposure; exposure to a meeting or exposure to an exciting work project," Radeka said. "HR leaders and people who have responsibility for talent need to embrace talent mobility.

Some examples include World Bank Group and Chipotle.

World Bank created an internal talent marketplace. It came at a time when the organization was dealing with a hiring freeze and a restructuring of the company, but they still needed to get projects completed. So, that forced them to look at their talent already within the organization. It initially started as an opportunity to train employees and give them some new opportunities, but eventually blossomed into an opportunity to keep talent engaged and retained, and allowed diverse groups of talent to interact and learn from one another. World Bank then shifted its view of its employees from propriety resources used by managers to corporate citizens; workers that could be utilized anywhere within the company with the right development.

The State of HR

The State of HR is in transition.  The days of being merely transactional are extinct and the evolution of the strategic HR department is underway.  So, what shape will the future take?  Where will the focus lie in order to achieve success?  Find out in our latest report:  The State of HR.

A few years ago, Chipotle, a quick serve Mexican restaurant based in the U.S., was experiencing a manager turnover rate of about 52%. They tied it to the hiring of external candidates. Once they shifted away from the practice and started hiring from within, the company saw an immediate drop in their manager turnover rate; to the tune of 35%. While that is still on the high side, it illustrates the importance of talent mobility.


Finally, Radeka discussed modernization within the transformation of talent management pointing to leadership competencies that are emerging in today's multi-generational workforce. 

Data shows those are increasingly ‘millennial’ in nature.  Innovative thinking, technology knowledge and multi-generational organization skills are all indicative of the millennial generation.  As more and more millennials enter the workforce, it is likely these areas will grow in importance.

All of those, in addition to the entrepreneurial mindset/financial expertise and marketing intelligence from Radeka’s perspective, require engagement from the people who make up the workforce and it must exist at all levels. Radeka said those who have those skill sets have an advantage over those who don't.

Knowing that information, how do HR professionals best use those competencies and capitalize on them?  The answer is leadership training and development.  This is key as the HR community recognizes the importance of preparing today’s workers to be tomorrow’s leaders.  Companies that embrace the mindset certainly see successes.

Take KIND Healthy Snacks. KIND began with a simple idea: to build bridges between people. KIND is known for making nutritious snack foods which include whole nuts, fruits, and whole grains. There's no secret ingredients, artificial flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners. The idea: if you can't pronounce and ingredient, it shouldn't go into your body. And how do they market the idea? It's on their website...

"Do the kind thing for your body, your taste buds & your world."

In Summation

Focusing strategies on a one-size-fits-all approach is out of style.  It’s yesterday’s news.  Embracing the individual, regardless of generation, is the way to go.  When looking at talent management through the lens of generation, it’s important to remember the real secret isn’t really about individual programs, but instead, it’s about inclusive ones.  An inclusive talent management strategy will always end with positive results for the employee and the business.


NEXT:  Essential Skills for the Modern HR Practitioner


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