Will regional talent management practices keep up with the global pace?

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1 Will regional talent management practices keep up with the global pace? A STUDY BY It s through employees that the organisation learns fast to turn around challenges and unpredictability into opportunities and success. An organisation can excel if it employs talent that thrives on progress and continuous change. In short, talent management is the way to meet future challenges more than any time before, Dr. Salman Al-Shobaki Chief Learning Office Aramex Corporate University Overview Recent research has shown that the quality of talent is directly linked to the business performance of an organisation. While businesses are beginning to recognise this link, many organisations are still at a loss about how to manage their talent effectively. Currently, implementing successful talent management strategies is becoming more critical due to some challenges such as hyper-competition, shorter lifecycles of businesses, products, and brands, and global expansion of organisations. Dr. Salman Al-Shobaki, Chief Learning Officer at Aramex Corporate University, believes that business growth is hindered by an environment that is dominated by a high level of unpredictability, financial crises, talent war, and global competitiveness with disruptive technologies. Therefore, the most critical asset is people and employees. In light of these changes, businesses across the region are striving to keep up with the pace of the global market to ensure sustainable growth and development of the regional market. This study, conducted by The HR Observer and Informa Middle East conveys how the region s leading players view talent issues, their changing approaches and new strategies, as well as their predictions for the talent management profession moving forwards. The Future of Talent Management The GCC region has complex demographics that include local talent, imported talent, and talent that is returning from abroad. Because of these unique talent pools, establishing a robust talent management strategy is key to the success of any business. Recruitment and Attraction Selecting the right talent sets the foundation for the entire employee lifecycle. One of the most popular methods to attract talent among regional employers is financial benefits. However, this is neither effective nor sustainable. In fact, once salaries reach a level where living conditions are comfortable, as is the case across the GCC, money is no longer the main factor considered when selecting a job. Inflated salaries and monetary rewards do at times drive candidates to compromise on other factors, but this leads to achieving unsustainable, short term objectives for both the employee and the business. In addition, the fact that a large percentage of the talent pool is initially located abroad increases the potential for recruiting errors as the organisation and the candidate do not have the chance to meet in person prior to the offer of employment.

2 Talent Management and Retention Once selected, there are a few challenges with retaining expatriate talent since they eventually want to return home. This trend prevents organisations from investing in and developing their employees skills and capabilities. A different approach should be taken in order for talent management to reach its full potential. First, talent management should be planned in alignment with the overall business strategy, making talent a core part of the business. However, this requires collaboration between the HR and senior leaders of the organisation. In addition, strategy should revolve around how it can be successfully implemented, in terms of communication, accountability, skills, alignment, and measurement, rather than what should be achieved like executive resource boards and development plans. More importantly, it should be recognised across the organisation that software and technology cannot replace talent itself. Succession Planning in the GCC Talent retention and attrition become a lot more challenging at the executive level, compromising on leadership. Having an effective succession planning strategy is critical for the growth of any organisation. Essentially, such strategies would help improve the company s bench strength in key positions by identifying high potential employees ahead of time. However, current succession planning strategies tend to be emergency driven as a result of unexpected departure of the organisation s leader. Some organisations attempt to identify candidates for leadership roles by running high potential programmes. Such programmes are not always effective due to several factors. According to recent researchdone by CEB, around 50% of individuals involved in high potential programmes drop out, 50% of the ones who finish the programmes aren t as effective as others expect them to be, and 50% of those candidates aren t going to stay with their current organisation. Eugene Burke, Chief Science and Analytics Officer of CEB, advises, If you re thinking about demonstrating the return on investment of those high potential programmes, you need to consider several questions. First, will the candidates finish the programme? Will these individuals be as effective as others expect them to be? And will they stay with your organisation? CEO turnover is remarkably high across the world especially in the GCC. Despite this high turnover and the retirement of the current generation of senior management (or Baby Boomers as some would call them), succession planning strategies have not been successfully implemented in the majority of organisations. Robert Hughes, Talent Manager at Dolphin Energy agrees, Succession planning has always been important. Maybe it is more important today because the rate of change, seems to increase constantly. In the oil & gas sector, it is critical because of the ongoing retirement of many baby boomers and the need to keep as much of their expertise in the business as possible. Despite this growing need, companies are struggling with creating a formal process aimed at identifying, developing, and retaining high potential talent. This is due to the inability to identify or develop a pool of active and passive candidates. Also, the lack of interest from senior executives make it more difficult to align succession planning with overall business objectives. According to Hughes, businesses are currently facing several challenges to implement an effective succession planning programme. The first challenge is to convince executives that succession planning is important and that they should assume the responsibility for it. Another one entails the selection of the right successor candidates which is the same challenge that high potential employee programmes face.

3 There are many reasons why humans select the wrong people for rapid development; mainly human nature. The tendency is for managers to select those they like, those who are like them from a behavioural or personality aspect, or those who have otherwise endeared themselves to senior management. Finally, the challenge for us professionals is to assist executives in selection as objectively as possible. Peers and direct reports can provide a different, and extremely valuable, perspective of potential successors, he confirmed. A formal process of succession planning would entail identifying, assessing, and developing leadership candidates to potentially succeed current leaders. However, because this process is long and complex, it requires a high level of engagement and commitment from the CEO, the HR department, and the front line managers. In addition, the involvement of other internal stakeholders, who may hold different views about the candidates, can add great value to the process. It is very naive of managers to think that they really know what is going on in their organisations. They often only learn the truth after they have departed, Hughes concluded. Nationalisation The importance of nationalisation for the sustainable development of the GCC is becoming more apparent than ever before. However, inefficient, fragmented talent management strategies of the national workforce is often being blamed for hindering the progress of nationalisation. While companies in the private sector were rushing to hit their nationalisation quotas, they missed out on establishing a strategic development plan for the newly recruited national talent. Hessa Al Ghurair, Head of Human Resources of Tanfeeth, stressed the importance of developing local talent for the success of nationalisation strategies. Speaking of the GCC, nationalisation is critical for the overall regional development. Unless we work hand-in-hand and ensure that we develop our younger population, we will not be able to achieve the future vision that the ruler of the UAE, she said. One of the biggest challenges that is currently contributing to the difficulty of finding the right talent is the gap between skills taught to students and those required in the job market. For companies working in sectors like hospitality and retail, available national talent is scarce. Therefore, university programmes need to be more aligned with skills required to meet market needs. When talent is available, the recruitment of nationals is at times particularly challenging because companies tend to promote vacancies rather than a wholesome career development plan. In addition, the private sector has to compete with the attractive benefits and packages that the public sector offers. In addition to the imbalanced competition between the private and the public sectors, one of the problems that private companies face is to get experienced nationals at the same cost as expatriates. Retaining national talent is yet another challenge, given that, over the course of the last decade, retention ratios have decreased from several years to less than a year of employment. Lack of engagement and opportunities for career progression have been cited as the main reasons behind the difficulty of retaining national talent. The cultural gap also poses a challenge; while foreign ideas and mindsets are being imposed on local employees, it is essential to consider whether expatriate co-workers and managers are open to learning from their local culture and values. This makes it difficult to integrate them into the company s corporate culture. As a result of this lack of integration, up to 10% of local talent leave the private sector due to a cultural shock. National talent can be better integrated into the workforce by providing them with mentorship which can give them genuine feedback for their personal and professional development, rather than technical coaching as is currently being provided.

4 Best Practices 1. Talent management should be closely aligned with the overall business strategy 2. HR and senior leaders must work together to make talent a core part of the organisation 3. Managing talent should entail putting the right people in the right roles 4. Successful talent management strategies should revolve around how they can be successfully implemented (communication, accountability, skills, alignment, and measurement), rather than what they need to achieve (executive resource boards and development plans) 5. It should be recognised across the organisation that software and technology cannot replace talent management Snapshot: Succession Planning Guidelines A potential successor can be nominated for more than one future position For any position, more than one potential successor should be selected in case the planned succession does not work out. Consider the flight risk of the incumbent; what is the probability that the incumbent will depart? Consider the readiness of the successors. Are they ready now? Will they be ready soon or later? Build development and career plans for the successors.

5 ABOUT #Talent15 The Learning & Talent Development Forum features directors of learning & development and group heads of learning who will exchange strategies on creating a learning culture, leadership development, designing and implementing competency mapping frameworks, e-learning and maximising the retention of learning initiatives through blended learning. The HR Observer is the region s first of its kind initiative aimed at becoming a platform for HR professionals to exchange insights freely both online and offline in efforts to help develop the profession in the Middle East. Visit to know more. THANKS Informa Middle East would like to thank all the Talent Management & Succession Forum speakers for their contributions to this report, with special thanks to: Robert Hughes, Talent Manager, Dolphin Energy Dr. Salman Al-Shobaki, Chief Learning Officer, Aramex Corporate University Eugene Burke, Chief Science and Analytics Officer, CEB Hessa Al Ghurair, Head of Human Resources, Tanfeeth 2015 SPONSORS Supporting Partner Innovation Partners Exhibitor Supported By Powered By

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