Who Owns Talent Management at SMEs?

By Nick Voyvodich
In this commodity based world of products and services companies thrive or perish primarily on attracting and hiring the best talent possible.  With competition for creative and technical savvy employees at an all time high, how do small companies compete with larger and more successful companies? Who owns this critical function within SMEs and what processes deliver the most efficient use of company resources to acquire the best and brightest?

Firstly, SMEs face the same issues of attracting, selecting, motivating and retaining employees as do their large corporate competitors.  However, they usually lack the specialized talent management expertise and tools of larger companies.  With fewer employees, each new hire has a profound impact, positive or negative on the company performance and morale. Each hire literally can either turn the company around or drive it in the ground.  This also relates to turnover.  Retaining and developing high potential future leaders takes first priority for managers and the executive team. Essentially SME’s have fewer resources and greater risks compared to their competition.

These risks can be dramatically reduced by the executive leadership team believing and communicating a talent management mindset.  By consistently demonstrating the importance and fragile nature of selecting and keeping star employees, instituting reward systems and mentoring of employees, the SME will gain a reputation of hiring, developing and actually caring about their employees professional development.  This mindset is more important than recruiting software tools, advertising budgets or leading edge corporate websites.  Demonstrating authentic concern for employees at all levels of management will reduce turnover, increase morale and establish a corporate culture where the employee comes first.  This individual attention during the entire work life cycle of the employee provides a distinct advantage over larger companies, who focus on intelligent systems to track and report whatever employee development occurs.

Keeping talent management processes simple and easy to use will provide an edge compared to expensive, hard to administer processes in larger companies. The HR organization should supply and train managers in succession planning, talent reviews, employee development, performance management and coaching.

Success in these areas can be achieved with little investment of time and money, assuming the tools are easy to understand, functional and expectations are set that managers will be held accountable for using the tools. Without assigning process owners there is a high probability they will be neglected.  HR again, should be the overall process owner along with managers at all levels being held to account for the implementation, delivery and reporting of the process outcomes.

The talent management mindset requires diligent attention and application on a daily basis. SMEs are competing with higher salaries, better benefits and prestige of working at high profile companies. If management can demonstrate employees really are their most important resource, retention and morale will soar, leading to innovative developments in products and services allowing them to successfully compete against their competition. All managers are responsible for talent management and their performance management should include demonstration they adhere to and devote effort to this all important activity.

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