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Jan 3, 2017

In sports, it’s all about the best players and coaches. Sound familiar? Businesses of all sizes are also heavily reliant on finding and keeping the best talent to succeed. So why don’t we take more lessons from professional sports teams on how they recruit and retain the top players?

Talent is Transforming recently spoke to Louis Montgomery, who leads Korn Ferry’s executive search practice for the mid-Atlantic and southern regions. He’s been outspoken on the valuable lessons we can take from sports.

“Successful sports teams and successful organizations have many things in common,” Louis tells us. “But the most important thing is that they really focus on getting and developing the best talent.”

Louis, who’s a two-time Talent is Transforming guest, gave us three tips on thinking more like a sports team when it comes to developing a talent management strategy. 

  1. Have a well thought-out talent acquisition process.

Football teams have about 300 professional football players to choose from and teams are limited by their own record in terms of getting access to those players. The better teams tend to have some of the most developed acquisition processes in place. Louis says you can be a 13-person firm or a 100,000-person firm, but ultimately you’re only going to be as good as the people you bring into the organization. “You need to have some real clarity around what you need and want to do from a talent acquisition standpoint,” he says.

  1. Have an assessment process to determine the star players.

Performance is one thing, potential is another, says Louis. Have a way to determine who are the people you should be making more investments in to help them get better. Those are going to be the people who lead your organization in the future. Identify your organization’s “diamonds”—the people who have more potential than you can actually see. Figure out the “blockers”—those who tend to stay put in positions that are really stepping stones to other roles within the organization. “Make sure you know what you need for the various kinds of positions and you get people in the right kinds of roles,” Louis told us.

  1. Have a plan around succession and development.

A brand new organization may not be thinking about succession, but they should, Louis told us. In fact, companies at all stages should be thinking about their company’s next generation of leadership. Use data to help—do talent reviews more regularly, study the types of traits needed in certain positions and invest in developing current employees for future positions within the organization. “We continue to talk about a war for talent, but it can be won if you have an effective talent management strategy,” Louis says. “If you don’t, you’re doomed to mediocrity.”   

Louis had much more insight during our chat, so click to hear the rest of our conversation on the Talent is Transforming podcast.  

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