Monday, August 8, 2011

Guest Blogger: How Your Talent Management Programs Can Make You a Top Employer

By Sean Conrad
Halogen Software
Qualified, skilled accountants are always in high demand. To attract and retain top performing employees, your organization needs to distinguish itself from the rest. So how do you become a top employer?
If you look at some of the questions in a typical "top employer" survey, or even questions used to gauge employee engagement and satisfaction, some common themes emerge. Among other things, employees are looking for:
  • clear direction
  • the tools/authority/support/resources they need to accomplish their work
  • feedback on their performance
  • a sense of purpose or connection to the organization's mission
  • a good relationship with their manager 
  • opportunities for development and career progression 
  • recognition and rewards for their performance
If you think about it, all of these needs can and should be addressed by your organization's talent management programs. But you need to ensure your organization adheres to best practices if you want to support employee engagement and retention. For example:
  • Every employee should have a clear, up-to-date job description that they can easily access and consult. Their job description should align with their performance appraisal, and goals, so they are be fairly evaluated.
  • Every employee should receive a regular performance appraisal, where their manager gives them feedback on their performance of goals and competencies. The performance appraisal process should also include coaching and development planning so performance gaps or learning needs are addressed. But most importantly, your performance appraisal process should foster an ongoing dialogue about performance between the manager and employee; the formal performance appraisal should merely summarize and capture the ongoing discussion so the employee is getting the ongoing feedback, coaching, direction and development they need to improve and succeed.
  • If employees work on projects or engagements, they should receive feedback from the leader at the end of the project/engagement. This feedback should also be communicated to their manager and rolled up into their annual performance appraisal. This ensures the employee gets timely feedback from the person who most closely supervised their work.
  • Employee should be given goals that are clear, specific and measurable. The old "SMART" (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) approach is still acknowledged to be a best practice; they ensure employees are set up for success. Every employee goal should also be linked to or aligned with a high-level organizational goal, so the employee has a context for their work, and sees how their efforts contribute to the organization's success.
  • Employees should be given the opportunity to broaden and deepen their knowledge, skills and experience and prepare for career progression. They should discuss development needs and interests as well as career aspirations with their manager. Then their manager should work with them to put in place a development plans that include a variety of activities appropriate to their learning needs and learning style. High potential employees in particular should be identified and groomed for advancement. Investing in employee development is a key way for the organization to show that it values its employees and is committed to their long terms success. Development planning can be rolled into the performance appraisal process or managed as a separate process, but needs to be formally addressed.
  • Compensation and rewards should be tied to performance so they are fair, and effectively recognize and encourage high performance. Recognition needs to come in many forms, not just monetary, and needs to reinforce organizational values and culture as well as high performance. 
By adopting talent management best practices like these, you ensure your employees are engaged, satisfied, and reaching their full potential. These really are the keys to being a top employer who can attract high performing employees with scarce skills.

Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of talent management software. For more of his insights on talent management, read his posts on the Halogen Software blog.

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