Redefine “talent” to fill the skills gap
Business growth

Nearly half of Asia’s CEOs do not take their entire workforce into account when they use the word “talent”. However, by broadening their definition employers could secure a competitive edge in shaping and retaining an efficient workforce.

According to an Economist Corporate Network (ECN) report Aligned for success? Strategy, talent management and the role of the CEO in Asia, which was sponsored by Hays and based on a survey of 530 regional business heads and country CEOs in Asia, only 57 percent defined talent as denoting their entire workforce.

A further 23 percent defined talent merely as knowledge staff in professional, managerial or leadership roles, while 19 percent believed talent are people with potential for senior/leadership roles. The last 1 per cent assumed ‘talent’ means people with potential for global roles.

CEOs might lose a valuable opportunity if ‘talent’ is defined by them in such limited capacity. We should broaden our scope when thinking about talent, retention or career development. Whatever their current position, employees have potential and can be brilliant ‘talent’ if they are nurtured, mentored and given a chance to develop their skills.

It is not uncommon that a few staff are unlikely to serve an organisation for long. But the majority of employees should be considered ‘talent’ and given a chance to develop and progress. Otherwise, employers are missing out on the potential of nearly half their staff.

In view of Asia’s dwindling talent gap and shortage of competent local professionals, a real opportunity is right here for business leaders to nurture their staff to fill skill gaps and overcome the talent gap.

Hays shares these five tips for any organisation wishing to carry out a professional development program for all their staff:

1. Identify and review development needs:

Discuss with employees individually about their career development and career goals. Use performance appraisals, formal and informal discussions and feedback from colleagues and customers to track and review development needs. Find out what motivates individual staff. For example, one employee may be motivated by a fast-tracked development program to senior management, but a less ambitious employee could be encouraged to take on other responsibilities.

2. Devise well-defined expectations:

Professional development does not only refer to training, but also an employee’s ability to know what they need to do to realise their goals and pave their career path. So clearly set your expectations for each individual’s professional development pathway.

3. Track progress:

It is significant to track and review development; invest in development that is actually required rather than perceived to be so.

4. Conduct effective training:

Identify the most appropriate training. Set clear objectives for staff so that they can measure the effectiveness. Please be reminded that training is not always conducted in classroom. There are many different scenarios for effective coaching, from correcting poor performance (it is one-to-one which is usually more effective) to improving motivation and encouraging employees to find their own answers. 

5. Mentorships:

Less experienced employees can acquire the knowledge of their more experienced colleagues, provided that you have appropriate mentors in your company. Given the informal way of information exchange and the relationship-basis of mentoring, mentorships allow an organisation to retain such knowledge as lessons that have been previously learnt, right through to implicit awareness such as report writing in a particular way or locating the right person for particular information. Mentorships also allow your organisation to preserve technical knowledge. In terms of overall productivity, this in itself has obvious results.

This article was originally published on Hays