Talent Management. Building Tomorrow’s Winning Team

Talent management doesn’t have one singular approach, but rather differs according to the scale of the company and the industry it operates in.

Larger companies which operate across several countries and continents employ thousands of employees yet maintain an effective approach towards managing them using either a global strategy or area-specific strategies developed by the region.

The session provided great insight into talent management and underlying principles held by top management.

About 2 years ago, The Economist held a panel with top level executives of leading global brands in the world. All of the panelists outlined their strategies for building “Tomorrow’s Winning Team” in regard to their companies and extensive experience.

Arjen Vermazen is the senior vice-president of Astellas Pharma Europe, a pharmaceutical company present in more than 90 countries. He says his company takes 3 major elements into account when building strategies for tomorrow’s winning team: attract, select and engage.

“It’s about attracting the right people for our company, it’s selecting the best people for leadership positions and engage all staff to retain and develop the company,” said Vermazen.

His company has developed an employee value proposition to attract and retain the right people, by asking candidates before hiring why they want to work for them. Most candidates answer they either wish to work because of its large size and international operations, or because they simply wish to contribute towards a good cause by healing people through medicine.

Astellas always pushes for performance as they believe to be a successful company you need to have a successful product. The HR department assesses competencies via external and internal tests, and also assesses potential via their learning agility. Vermazen said, “The competencies that we apply first of all is customer focus, innovation and change, result-orientation, communication and collaboration, developing and inspiring, global orientation and strategic orientation. The last 3 elements are more applicable to leaders than the rest of us. Basically we apply the competencies to all staff in our company.”

Furthermore, the pharmaceutical company checks to see how job applicants match with the organization’s values. The company also provides support to employees through 360-degree feed-backs, customized programs (made in collaboration with Duke University), corporate education, diverse experiences, mentoring, and much more. All are applied globally in a centralized system. The firm values engagement; they take feedback from their employees and act upon it. But primarily the company holds the belief that employees are responsible for their own development.

The Vice-President of Human Resources and Chief People Officer, James Watts, of KFC UK and Ireland was also a panelist at the talk, and he spoke of the company he works for which employs over 1.5 million employees over 110 countries worldwide. Yum brands – the parent company of KFC and also the world’s largest restaurant company – is a decentralized organization. It is essentially a collection of small to medium sized businesses around the world which plans according to their own market with no relation to other locations.

First, create a “crystal-clear strategy” for your firm. Next, design your structure around that strategy by supporting it with resources at the right places to deliver it.

Watts says that KFC UK is a source of talent and innovation. He explains that their approach for developing talent is based on a simple model which they like to call ‘strategy, structure, culture’. It works in 3 steps. First, create a “crystal-clear strategy” for your firm. Next, design your structure around that strategy by supporting it with resources at the right places to deliver it. And lastly, “build your culture in a way that allows the different pieces of that structure to work together in a way that enables it to deliver your strategy.”

The company makes sure that their people strategy drives the business strategy. From a HR perspective, the people strategy focuses on finding the talent to fuel the firm’s growth and driving engagement and collaboration between employees. About 60% of their employees are under the age of 25, and so the company takes into consideration that many of them might not have complete education and training. To accommodate the development of its many employees from diverse backgrounds, KFC UK makes sure that it has the structure and infrastructure to train them in important life skills they haven’t learned yet, to help them grow in their career whilst providing opportunities within the organization at the same time to advance their career. A core aim of KFC is to produce talented leaders that it can develop and export to the rest of the world from the UK.

They don’t just train their employees but also look for ways to facilitate career advancement within the company. “As you move through the organization, we also need to make sure that its set up to help people rapidly progress their careers. So we appoint 60% of our restaurant managers and about 60% of our area managers internally from people that have grown through as team members. And these are big roles,” said Watts. “This is a big job, so we need to make sure that our training structure develops people through to those levels very quickly.”

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