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7 Talent Management Questions Directors Should Be Asking

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Thinking Managers picks up Claudia Lacy Kelly's piece in BusinessWeek on the seven questions the board should be asking about the company's talent management strategy.

  1. Succession planning: what plans are in place? There are three types of succession strategies the business should have in place for every member of the top team. First, the retirement plan. Second, the intermediate plan, in case an executive leaves before retirement. Third, an emergency back-up strategy for sudden departures. Board directors should also spend some time getting to know the next wave of successors.
  2. How is the business evaluating senior executives and their direct reports? Do directors know the executives' strong points, where they are weak, and how individuals are assessed? Directors should know the methods HR use to build up a picture of executive competencies -- and there should be a pipeline of strong candidates for key positions, should they become vacant.
  3. How much time does the senior team devote to succession planning? Use companies such as GE as your inspiration -- their succession planning strategies are established and involve senior managers and directors, not just HR.
  4. Is someone below board level taking ownership of career development and succession? HR should be updating the board -- or the appointments committee, if that's most appropriate. If HR doesn't report to the board, then the company doesn't value its people strategy highly enough, notes GE's Jeff Immelt (pictured).
  5. What plans does the business have to address global workforce planning? This means identifying the most important jobs internationally -- multinationals already know the value of workforce planning on a global scale. But, despite the expectation of growth in emerging markets, many companies aren't actively planning their international workforce development.
  6. What is the business doing to retain its high-potential talent? Directors need to know that there is a strategy for holding on to the most talented people in the business. They needn't know the details. Just that there is a plan in place.
  7. Has HR kept pace with the changing demands of the workplace? Top HR leaders need to both global and local experience and a very clear understanding of what individuals are needed and where. It's a demanding role that requires leadership and strategic thinking.
    Directors should regard talent management as another aspect of asset management, and treat it with the same deference as they would financial or risk management.
A couple of questions: do companies actively plan their workforce development at local level, let alone globally? And do directors really take people development seriously?

(Photo: World Resources Institute, CC2.0)
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