Jaime Zapata
Corporate Director of Training and Talent
Expert Contributor

How to Ace Talent Management in Difficult Times

By Jaime Zapata | Thu, 11/05/2020 - 09:52

"After darkness I wait for the light," said Don Quixote.  After the COVID-19, normality will appear again, and I speak in the future because the "new normality" changes practically every day, it does not finish defining itself, much less settling down.  What is absolutely certain is that the pandemic has forced us to think creatively and differently, to rethink the status quo, to pause and reflect in search of new ways to ensure family, social and business continuity.

The "new normal" should be expected to bring new political, social, financial, commercial and business scenarios with it. In fact, many companies responded quickly and rethought their productive activities to deliver their customers tangible and intangible goods. Many others have integrated technology and many others are strongly betting on their employees' talent to develop creative and disruptive strategies to ensure business continuity and save the sources of work as far as possible.

Many months after the beginning of the pandemic, the formula for survival requires a quick adjustment to the situation and the variables that arise at the moment.  Adjustment involves throwing a lot of balls in the air and ensuring that they are all in constant movement without falling over, like a good juggler. This is where the question arises: how can the organization's operational adaptation be integrated into the management of the employees and how can this ensure efficiency, effectiveness and productivity to ensure the continuity of the company?
For that question, depending on the variable on which the question is focused, there are many answers. In the case of talent management, in my opinion, some basic strategies will need to be implemented:

  1. React quickly:  To ensure the productive commitment of the employees, it is necessary that the HR and Talent areas know in detail the strategy of the organization to ensure its own continuity.  This will result in creating the necessary talent strategy for the collaborators to contribute to the company's results.
  2. Redefining the work areas: As long as there is no effective vaccine against COVID-19, we will live with the virus on a daily basis.  The company's role should then be oriented to guarantee physical spaces conditioned with adequate hygiene measures.  It will probably be necessary to redistribute the space to separate the desks in more ventilated areas and manage the assistance of the personnel who will physically attend while the rest will carry out the tasks from home.
  3. Strengthen the modality of home-office: This modality has been placed in first place to ensure the operation of organizations.  It has made communication and interaction easier with practically zero health risks.  At the point of time in which we are, the organization must evaluate the results obtained.  If these have been positive, continue with the modality so that the collaborators can continue producing from their homes.  An important aspect to consider is to opt for a hybrid model of presence in which the collaborator works two or three days a week in their home and goes to the facilities to reinforce social interaction and ensure the organizational climate and culture.  If the results have been negative, evaluate which aspect of the distance interaction is not being adequately applied and make the appropriate corrections.
  4. Define performance indicators: Both face-to-face work and telework without controls only generate chaos that can have serious consequences, including the closure of companies.  Establishing controls is not about doing a detective job in which the employee is asked every hour what he or she is doing.  As a control practice, this demoralizes anyone by generating a culture of panic.  Establishing clear and understandable KPI's is a vital practice to define the specific goals to be achieved and to estimate the progress, besides being an element that provides transparency for performance evaluation. 
  5. Analyze the positions: In accordance with the company's strategy, as well as the adjustments in the operation, it is necessary to establish what changes are necessary in the positions in terms of segregation of duties and responsibilities, technical skills, soft skills and scope.  Any change in these aspects must necessarily correspond to the company's objectives to ensure business continuity and to other decisions such as staff cuts. It is likely that, in view of the contingency, the company will require a total or partial redefinition of its products or services, so both the organizational structure and the positions will have to be reviewed to adjust them to the new organizational needs.
  6. Define talent attraction: In the event that the company requires hiring for newly created positions or for the replacement of a collaborator whose profile does not adjust to the new provisions, the challenge implies the establishment of an effective process of attraction, selection and Onboarding in order to ensure the incorporation of new collaborators in an agile but safe way.
  7. Execute constant communication: Cascading communication from the highest levels of the company is crucial to maintain the team's adhesion. Each leader must take care of his or her team to ensure that everyone understands its functions and scope, as well as the effective and timely communication of operational changes.

There is a high probability that errors will be made and adaptations will have to be made during the implementation of these and other initiatives. The introduction of strategies requires not only elements of management of change, but also timely monitoring of progress and efficiency. This is one of the greatest challenges facing the fields of HR and Talent Management. One of the best ways to move forward is, without a doubt, to share what we are learning along the way ...

Photo by:   Jaime Zapata