AM Online

Best practice is damaging talent management, says KPMG

A rigid attachment to ‘best practice’, rather than a focus on business needs, is preventing businesses from unearthing and nurturing staff to drive their business forward.

The danger of such an inflexible approach is also killing organisations’ ability to properly manage talent, according to KPMG’s UK Lead for Talent.

Presenting her views in a white paper called ‘Tune in to Talent,’ Anna Marie Detert argues that organisations are failing to adjust their approach or match it to their unique requirements, leaving executives frustrated and concerned.

The impact on boardroom confidence in HR tactics is confirmed in a study published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and KPMG, in which fewer than one in four CEOs and directors accepted that their HR department excels at ‘sourcing key talent’ or ‘preparing for a changing workforce’.

Detert suggests that the tendency to copy or adopt the latest fad or fancy must be challenged if businesses are to understand the talent they truly need to succeed, and plan effectively to find and keep it.

She said: “All too often, companies dive straight in, implementing the latest best practice recruitment, development or performance system or process.

“Instead, they need to stand back and ask some searching questions about what talent their particular business needs now and in the future.”

In the paper, she identifies four key groups of questions HR teams should ask, before scoping a talent strategy.  These are:

1. Strategic talent requirements: revolving around what kinds of skills will help the business succeed, how many staff are needed and where they should be based

2. Talent risks: based on an assessment of what the key talent risks are facing the organisation,  and including analysis of succession planning, key person dependency and mobility risks

3. Return on investment: exploring what the business has learned about which kind of ‘talent interventions’ deliver the best RoI and examining whether success is better achieved through growing talent or buying it

4. Talent governance & infrastructure:  identifying what infrastructure exists to manage data on talent and the culture and governance in place to encourage and enable career moves and secondments.

Detert suggests that asking and answering these four key questions will ensure that any talent plan is tailored, and is unique to the business it is designed for.  She concludes: “By fully understanding the current and future business context – by tuning in to talent - HR teams can assemble the right elements of a talent approach, and create a unique talent playlist- one which captures the character, culture and mood of their specific business.”

If you are not a registered user your comment will go to AM for approval before publishing. To avoid this requirement please register or login.

Login to comment


  • Ash - 05/04/2013 16:55

    Fascinating. Flags up some really important issues for all of us. I'm no great fan of HR and have nothing to say in their defence really. My experience of HR is that it's populated in the main by frustrated bureaucrats who never quite made it in the Civil Service and could never have made it in commerce. However the reality is that there's a new bread of boardroom operator right now, masters of the universe and all our destinies, or at least that's how they see it! These guys, and they're mainly little men with big macho egos that need constant stroking, think they have all the answers and would certainly never refer to HR for advice. Hey, they're multi millionaires so who can argue with them??! They know who to employ, always their friends, and they know how to make money, for themselves and their friends. But how did these guys come to be in the ascendancy? Well when one looks at the current state of the UK economy, the state of our manufacturing and service industries, the complete failure to nurture and promote real talent, and so the complete lack of talent now, we shouldn't be so surprised. But what we should be is concerned, because the vulture capitalists who now dominate British business have no other motivation than the main chance. They are the Rockefellers of our time, and we all know that Rockefeller really achieved...great riches for himself, complete disaster for the wider society! So, let's not be too ready to heap the blame on HR....let's look first at self-interested individuals who have held talent back for the sake of their own careers and fortunes and who have ridden roughshod over proper HR recruitment and development programmes for at least a decade. 'Fred the shred' is still alive and well in British business. Until we rid ourselves of his like and the worst of capitalist culture; until we put some science back into recruitment; until we introduce meritocracy in management, then we're doomed to further decline and failure. Talking Talent...the fish goes rotten at the head. Time to sweep the Boards clean!

    • chiltern white - 09/04/2013 16:51

      @Ash -

    • chiltern white - 09/04/2013 16:55

      @chiltern white - the most true comment ihave read in a long time everything is right keep up the good work no other comments

  • Ian Grieve - 07/04/2013 16:18

    Need a lawyer to explain the meaning of these four statements. Explain what she means in simple English !!!!!