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Talent management – part of your survival strategy?

Is resilience in the marketplace down to good fortune?

Organisations that are managing to successfully maintain high performance are balancing required cost-cutting measures with an increasing focus on talent management and development. This focus enables organisations to identify, develop and retain high-performing staff and appropriately manage poor performers – optimising their strengths and mitigating their weaknesses.

How have they been able to achieve this?

There are four key areas of talent management strategy that have enabled high-performing organisations to navigate the recession and excel. By focusing energy and resources on ensuring your talent programme is fit for purpose, your organisation can optimise performance and achieve significant benefits.

The four key areas of talent management strategy:

1. Recognise that capacity and capability need to develop in line with changing business focus

During tough times organisations instinctively refocus. Staff cuts drive activity prioritisation and smart workload management; and managers identify the skills that will lead them through the recession. Effective organisations already understand the capability profiles of their workforce and as a result are able to mobilise staff quickly and effectively to meet new requirements.

2. Refocus talent programmes to reflect your new recession-proofing priorities

Different skill sets are needed in today’s business environment, and change management inevitably comes to the fore. Organisations that are successfully negotiating the current economic climate have already adapted their talent programmes to reflect the new landscape – shifting the focus to retention of top performers and high potentials, and reinforcing the importance of effective people management, relationship building and customer focus.

3. Make performance management really count – out with the old, in with the new

Just as talent programmes need to be realigned, so too does performance management. Today, “a mere 7% of employees fully understand their company's business strategies and what's expected of them in order to help achieve company goals".[1] Managers need to be capable of clearly differentiating the performance of their employees and targeting limited reward spend. New priorities need to be cascaded down through the organisational and individual objectives - replacing the old focus.

 [1]Robert Kaplan and David Norton, 2008, Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage, Harvard Business Press.

4. Reinforce your core values in order to build loyalty and retain top performers

All too often organisations respond to economic hardship with knee-jerk cost-cutting initiatives that may inadvertently compromise the core values of the organisation. Fragmenting your employee value proposition makes recovery from the recession even tougher to achieve and damages the trust between employer and employee. Successful organisations know that costcutting must be carefully assessed to protect highly valued elements of the employee value proposition – implications for the short and long-term need to be taken into account to safeguard employee motivation.

The economic climate is negatively impacting almost all organisations, but by balancing cost cutting with refocused, realigned talent programmes, organisations can maintain employee engagement, drive performance and safely navigate through difficult times. 

To find out more about PA Consulting Group’s talent management expertise or to register for our roundtable breakfast event on the topic of "Talent Management in Uncertain Times", Thursday 18th November in London, please contact