The fact that the quality of people in an organization is a key differentiator and a competitive advantage is no longer a topic for debate but a well-accepted ground reality. As a consequence, most companies with aspirations to grow in scale and size make significant investments in talent development to satisfy the hunger for performance improvements from all their stakeholders.
According to a Monster.com report:
“73% of the CEOs in India spend more than one-fourth of their time directly on talent-related activities.” That is some serious investment! The report also states: “While 68% acknowledge that this time has increased in recent years, 79% also affirm that this focus will only increase further next year.” Having said that, do all companies that make these investments achieve the same amount of success? The answer, sadly, is no.
INVESTING IN TALENT DEVELOPMENT: FOUNDATION FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
So let’s examine what can be done to increase the possibility of success and improve return on investment (ROI) from organization and talent development. For the sake of clarity:
Companies intuitively spend a lot of time managing costs. There is a lot of innovation around that, since “costs” is a common buzzword today in corporate hallways and determines survival. But is that enough to increase ROI? As is clear from the computation of ROI, one must focus on benefits as well, which in turn may well require major innovations across the enterprise. The increased realization of benefits also drives ROI (not just cost focus), and will potentially lay the foundation for business success.
Let’s take a scenario where a corporation invests in having its entire middle management staff attend a leadership development program with a year-long curriculum. Keeping the variables of growth and attrition in mind, let’s say it takes the company over three years to complete this initiative. How can the organization speed up the rate at which it realizes benefits from this investment?
The answer is simple, though not very common. It must weave in (to the approved business processes across the corporation) the methods imbibed from the leadership development initiative to realize the intended benefits more quickly. For instance, if the curriculum advocates a particular method of ensuring effective employee recognition, does the corporation drive this method as part of its business processes? That leads me to my next point, which is to lay out some food for thought about enabling the realization of benefits (and sustained business results!) from talent development investments.
WAR FOR TALENT: DEVELOPMENT INVESTMENTS DESERVE ENTERPRISE FOCUS
To derive more benefits and realize them quicker, the organization must ask and answer some key questions regarding its development initiatives:
- Are our methods of communicating these benefits effective?
- How should we make the benefits sustainable?
- How do we accelerate the process of deriving these benefits?
- How does one grow the benefits?
The answer to each of these questions will be different for different organizations based on their business contexts and maturity. However, it is imperative to ask these questions on a regular basis so that methods and processes can be tweaked to improve benefits, drive actual business results, and hence ROI.
Smart companies with large geographic foot prints are leveraging internal social media platforms as complementary channels to achieve the above objectives. On the other hand, smaller companies do so with more people-to-people contacts facilitated through round tables, discussion forums and workshops.
Companies that take a hard look at their strategies to realize clear goals from their talent development investments, and lay out a clear road map to constantly examine and answer these questions, are the ones that will make the cut in this era, where the war for talent is only intensifying.