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Talent Management


Our average staff tenure at Pronto Software is over 10 years. I’ve worked at the organisation for 13 years – and we have staff who’ve celebrated their 30th anniversary. I’m often asked how we achieve these results.

Despite the stats about job-hopping becoming the norm, especially in our IT industry, Pronto Software is proof that long tenures don’t have to be a relic in Australia. To be successful, I believe you need to focus less on employee retention and more on talent management. An employee’s choice to be a productive and loyal member of your team should be a natural outcome of the strong, mutually beneficial relationship they have with you – rather than a type of entrapment.

Collaboration builds passion

Offering compensation that is comparable to similar businesses and industries can help you retain talent – however this is not the all-encompassing solution to managing great talent.

Are you likely to accept a high paying job at a business known to have poor values, ethics and a toxic culture? The best workplaces give their employees a sense of purpose. When the business you work with shares your values, you have the common ground needed to build a strong relationship and be more engaged. People inherently want to work alongside colleagues they trust and respect. We spend the longer portion of our days at work and being in a positive and nurturing environment can be critical to our professional development and mental health. Are your managers able to coach employees and set them up to succeed?

Pronto employees tell us that one of the key reasons for their loyalty is our culture. We have created a highly collaborative environment that presents multiple opportunities for employees to leverage each other’s strengths and fulfil professional goals. One example is Pronto’s annual hackathon, which supports intrapreneurship, giving employees the time and opportunity to incubate fresh ideas. These types of activities are enjoyable and fuel the passion we have for the work we do. Every year our judges struggle to pick a winner as the hacks or ideas are inspired and bold, each in their own way.

To nurture exceptional talent, it’s critical to offer employees a clear development path and make acquiring new skills part of their role. Pronto’s focus on innovation has enabled us to achieve this. In fact, two of our highest growth divisions are a result of staff-led initiatives.

Our continued growth also means we attract new partners and employeesfrom diverse backgrounds, with different expertise. This creates additional learning opportunities for all of us.

Recognition drives loyalty

An unexpected compliment is often a delightful treat. Along a similar vein, showing appreciation to team members who’ve put in long hours for a project or achieved a great result is highly rewarding for the individual and motivates others.

It can be difficult to find the time to do this but every minute you spend recognising achievement is bound to provide rich dividends in building strong staff engagement and loyalty. We have large honour boards in Pronto Software offices to shine a spotlight on our longest serving staff who have helped build our successful business. Many new hires tell us that this is a very impressive testament to how much we value our employees.

A word of caution. It’s important to understand that all employees have commitments outside the business. The extra effort from an employee could at times, come at a significant personal cost. Even your highest performer will jump ship if they’re overworked consistently. To manage your talent, ensure you evaluate their commitments and keep expectations at a reasonable level – that’s the foundation of long-term success.

Empowerment enables high performance

Everyone likes to excel at their work and having the right tools can make that possible. For example, retail staff can’t increase sales of the trending item if your warehouse staff didn’t dispatch it on time or if the merchandising manager didn’t have the data to spot the trend and order more.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation is the next frontier. Developments in this area is already helping businesses to make smarter and more grounded decisions. Mundane, low value tasks can be reduced, giving employees the time to engage in more strategic and fulfilling activities. In the next 18 to 24 months, more Australian companies will modernise jobs, integrating AI and automation to complement and enhance employee activities.

As our workplaces change and new generations enter the workforce, it becomes necessary for organisations to adapt to shifting needs and desires. Creating the right culture, recognising achievers and providing the best tools to support excellence will help you better manage your greatest assets.

Via Training Zone : How to be more ‘agile’ – 3 talent management tips

Have you heard about ‘agile’? It’s a concept that has been revolutionising the tech and IT worlds over the past 25-30 years, and now looks set to transform a broad range of industries and functions too.

Agile (adj.) a style of project management, used especially for software development, which involves dividing tasks into short phases of work, and frequently reassessing and adapting plans.

Speed is certainly an essential business currency in today’s fast-moving marketplace. No matter if you are a salesperson trying to put together a proposal for a major new deal, or a leader trying to develop and realise a vision for the future, there is simply no time to lose.

Should you move twice as fast, or simply move smarter?

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, he tells the story of the Red Queen’s race, in which Alice finds herself constantly running, but somehow remaining in the same spot. “In our country” says Alice, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing”. “A slow sort of country!” replies the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Like Alice, individuals and organisations in today’s business environment find that they need to move fast just to stay in the same place.

But this does not mean that you need to move twice as fast as you are already in order to make any significant progress. Instead you can make progress by being a bit smarter about where you are going and how you are going to get there. In other words, be a bit more ‘agile’.

Alice and the Red Queen, John Tenniel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How to become more agile

The shift toward ‘agile’ principles in organisations today essentially involves moving away from command-and-control styles of management towards a faster model driven by users, with flexibility given for individuals and teams to frequently reassess and adapt their plans. The idea here is that these more agile practices can help individuals and organisations become more innovative and responsive to change.

These agile principles are as applicable to sales and leadership teams as to product development. Agile is not about getting everyone to move twice as fast, but making it possible for people and their teams to move with more agility and intelligence.

Talent management – feedback and coaching

One way in which agile practices are changing businesses and HR in particular is in the whole area of talent management. In fact, because long-term planning has become increasingly difficult in today’s business environment, the traditional annual performance review is no longer suitable for many organisations.

Instead, individuals need access to a more agile system of talent management with more immediate coaching and feedback available throughout the year, often delivered project by project, so that they and their teams can become nimbler, ‘course-correct’ mistakes and improve performance.

To make this transition to a more ‘agile’ system of talent and performance management effectively, the most successful companies invest in sharpening their managers’ coaching skills.

Here are three talent management tips:

1. Move from judging to coaching

Encourage managers to move away from judging employees towards coaching them in their day-to-day work. The aim for managers as coaches should be to ask questions rather than dictate answers, and to take an interest in employees’ lives and careers.

2. Be a connector

Be a connector and make expertise available. As a manager you should be ready to admit when you don’t have all the answers, and willing to connect employees with colleagues who face similar challenges or who may have the expertise to be able to help.

3. Focus on teams

Focus on teams rather than just individuals. With more and more work carried out at the team level, managers need to develop their ability to build effective team dynamics, for example by becoming more familiar with organising multi-directional feedback.

Could you become more agile?

Whatever your goals are, you don’t need to move twice as fast in order to make progress, either as an individual or as an organisation. Instead, think about how you can move a little smarter. The methodologies of agile offer a roster of ideas, in areas ranging from organisational structure to management and coaching styles, for any person or organisation looking to move smarter in today’s fast-changing business environment.

Via Forbes : Talent Management: Does It Help Or Hinder Your Career Progress?

In an earlier article, I stated that if your career was driven by a talent management program then “you must recognize your organization is playing hardball.” Here I expand on that statement, clarifying the organization’s perspective as an employer, and considering your own as an individual employee.

What is organizational hardball? It occurs when an organization is firmly focused on its own future, and sees its employees’ careers in that light. Its talent management system, driven by what business schools call strategic human resource management, is entirely focused on meeting the organization’s strategic goals. For this purpose, it has identified a talent pool (or stars, or high-potential workers) that it is nurturing for long-term development. For the same purpose, the organization sees its remaining employees as part of the flexible workforce, and has little strategic interest in their further development.

Are you in or out? This is a fundamental question. If you are in the organizational talent pool, you are important to your organization, even if only for its own purposes. If you are out, you are seen, for now, as a productive worker. You may even get training to help you keep pace with changes to your job. However, you are left firmly in charge of your own career future. Being in or out are fundamentally different career situations. If you don’t know where you stand (and some organizations are secretive) do your own searching on the web, talk to your boss and your colleagues, and keep on until you get a clear answer.

What if you are in the talent pool? You may be rotating through a selection of jobs that can prepare you for the executive suite. Or, you may be a personal assistant to a senior manager helping you to learn the ropes. You are still on track for a top job. Moreover, Harvard Business Review recently reported that those who made CEO were on average younger if they’d stayed with the same organization. Next, ask do you really aspire to a top position? If so, then a) keep going, b) keep checking that’s still okay, and c) make sure the skills you’re developing will be attractive to other employers. Also, read on, since you may be in the pool now but out of it later!

What if you are out of the pool? You may not know it. Why should your organization disturb the relative calm by signaling who’s expendable? Check out the relative velocity of your own career and compare it with others. Do your homework by conducting a keyword search on your organization’s talent program. If you’re not in the pool, ask yourself if that’s what you prefer. If it’s not what you prefer, know that lots of people get off to a bad start in their careers. However, there’s research from Germany saying you can leave, spend ten years moving between other employers, and catch up most of the ground you may have lost.

There’s always a tournament. There will always be a tournament – a competition for a dwindling number of positions as you climb an organizational hierarchy. Check out how far and how fast you need to move up to reach the top. The odds against becoming CEO are high, but you may still be a contender. If you’re not, perhaps you’re in a separate tournament for occupational achievement—say in finance, information technology or science? If so, you may have a good chance to change jobs and earn a more prestigious position elsewhere. If you’re not in any tournament, again ask if that’s what you prefer.

Reputation always matters. Whatever your readiness to join any career tournament, introductions and recommendations for your next job will come from people who know you. These can be from either past or present work experiences. Also, stay involved in professional conversations, for example with occupational peers or fellow-alums. Remember, a) your reputation will expand even if you stay put, as other members of your organization move out; and b) you can enhance your reputation by engaging in “bridge building” toward people with interests complementary to your own.

Getting clear on all of the above can be a prelude to future career conversations. These can provide an exchange of views between you (on your career situation) and your boss (on the organizational situation). Contract workers note: your opportunity here is to emphasize your willingness to perform part-time or irregular work. It’s been shown that people laying out their own career concerns can elevate the overall quality of career conversations organization-wide. You, and career owners around you, can all do yourselves and your organization a favor. Wouldn’t that be a great deal better than being told what’s best for you—and on someone else’s terms?

Via HR Dive : The talent management shift: Is your organization ready?

Employers are placing more value on acquiring, developing and keeping employees, prompting a talent management transformation.

While organizations have been focused on technological and digital transformations, another shift is taking place that affects employees and leaders alike: the way in which talent is managed.

As companies increasingly understand the necessity of a high performing workplace, they are placing more value on getting, developing and keeping employees, prompting a talent management transformation for everyone.

The new talent management

The phrase “talent management” in itself is telling. First, it acknowledges employees as providing the intellectual and physical talent needed to keep a business running, and it emphasizes the need to pay attention to that talent.

A fairly new phrase, it represented a change in the 1990s as strategic companies started looking at their workforces differently, Tabitha Scott, principal of consulting company Cole Scott Group, told HR Dive. Companies started looking at how to create a high performance workforce and assessing changing needs and skill gaps, she said. As the information age took off, new skills were needed while others were less in demand.

One of the big shifts was in HR, which traditionally focused on compliance — ensuring the company followed rules on hiring, taxes and payroll. “Talent management gets future forward,” she said. “People are thinking of what is coming down the pike and how do I prepare my workforce for that, including everything from acquisition, talent management and how do we retain them over time as things are changing so fast.”

But talent management isn’t just the responsibility of HR. Leaders and managers are expected to actively focus on the developing the employee, not just the process of managing a department. Managers need to listen to what employees say they need and want to be successful.

“As leaders, we have the ability to amplify what employees do, or become insulators,” Scott said.

A change in the approach to job functions

In years past, employees applied for a job with stated requirements and responsibilities. If they liked some of the responsibilities but not others, that was just too bad — take it or leave it. Today’s talent management looks at job responsibilities differently, Scott said. Because employers need to motivate employees and keep them engaged, creative and thriving, it becomes vital to match the employee with the right position, even if the very nature of that position has to become fluid.

“Some people naturally love change, they’re motivated by it,” Scott said. “They wouldn’t thrive in an organization or role that focused on routine work. Others are motivated by optimizing things. They would be frustrated by coming up with new things.”

That comes into play when you place people on a project. Typically, someone would start on a project and carry it through; however, Scott said, employers may want to have the people who love change be the ones who start the project, only to shift off when the project reaches maintenance mode. Recognizing employees’ strength and putting them into a position to succeed — even if it means altering the job or team — is a new aspect of talent management.

What tactics resonate with employees?

Employees are energized by feeling part of something bigger than themselves, Scott said. “We also need to make every aspect of employee engagement relevant and actionable,” she added in an email to HR Dive.

And personalization is a big part of that. Derek Herman, product marketing at Phenom People, a platform for talent relationship marketing, emphasized the need to approach talent management on an individual basis. “Personalize the employee experience so that each employee feels appreciated through some of these methods: recognition/awards for projects, monetary gifts for personal milestones (homeowner, married, newborn, etc.), learning & training courses to develop skill sets and Performance reviews and promotions,” he said in an email to HR Dive.

Tips for shifting and evaluating your talent management program

If you’re evaluating your current system for managing people and wondering if you need to make a shift, where do you start?


“Before assessing talent management practices, focus on the business objectives and the human capital required to achieve those goals,” Herman said. Once those are established, plan to source top talent that will supplement your employee base, he said. Talent acquisition teams should only hire quality candidates who fit the criteria, company culture, and are engaged with the employer brand, he said.


As you look at how an individual’s strength fits in with the growth and needs of the organization, consider coaching current employees to help them acquire new skills in addition to bringing in new people who already have those future-focused skills, Scott added.

“The trick is getting their strengths aligned with strategies,” Scott said, suggesting that behavioral analysis tools can help ensure the employees are placed in positions where they will thrive.

Employees should feel empowered to take their talents and run with them, Herman added. If they are micromanaged or are met with adversity from their managers, they will quickly disengage and productivity will suffer.


Development plays a key role in a powerful, engaging employee experience, Herman said: “Keep staff engaged with work and new projects that challenge them and resources to grow and learn.” Get their input and give them leeway to prove their talents.

Are your efforts working?

If you commit to making a shift, how do you know it’s effective? Look at three critical factors: recruitment, management and retention, Herman said. Consider time-to-hire, cost-per-hire and the quality of the hire, he added. Other stats like low turnover and high internal mobility speak to successful development. “If the reverse is true, your talent management process needs a second look,” he said.

Are you meeting your targets and are employees engaged? Scott asked. “If your efforts aren’t working, go back and have a snapshot of what energizes employees and assess it. Until you know what you’re dealing with, it’s really hard to fix,” she added. Whether it’s sitting down and talking with employees or using an assessment tool, measure what makes them tick or gets them excited about what they’re doing, she said.

A robust and effective talent management system has become essential for any company that wants to encourage the best performance from their employees. “Face it, they spend more time at work than they do with their families in many cases,” Scott said. “If they don’t love it, if they’re not energized by it, then it hurts you as a company and it doesn’t help them either.”

Via HR Dive : Planning employees’ life cycles: A blueprint for effective talent management

Establishing a thoughtful strategy from day one will help you maximize each individual’s tenure with your company, writes Greg Shepard, chief strategy officer and chief technology officer at Pepperjam

The days when people would spend decades at one company are long gone. These days, the average time a worker stays at one organization is four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — and it is even shorter in the tech sector. Though high turnover rates are becoming the norm, it is costing companies a pretty penny: Employee Benefit News reports that, when a worker leaves, it costs employers 33% of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement.

This type of hit can make or break a business — and it is especially damaging for startups. Equally detrimental is when companies lose great employees by hiring them at starting salaries that are too high, levels that don’t leave enough room for regular increases. Either the organizations wind up paying too much for one person’s output, or the employee leaves because there’s no room to advance, regardless of performance.

As a veteran of building and running growth businesses, I have seen these situations many times. Fortunately, there are several ways to mitigate the problems, including offering reasonable salaries with room for incremental, merit-based raises.

Planning for each person’s full “employee life cycle” means coming up with the right starting package; setting and clearly communicating the goals that employees are expected to meet; and, ultimately, preparing well in advance for the person’s eventual exit.

Starting off on the right foot

When hiring new staff, employers frequently try to offer attractive starting salaries to attract the best and the brightest. But hiring managers often mistakenly focus on recruiting a person in the short-term without considering a given employee’s longer-term prospects at the company and whether the initial salary offers room and incentive to grow.

Let’s say a software company offers a programmer $90,000 per year to start, but the maximum it can afford to pay someone in the position is $100,000. This gives the company only two long-term options: offering the employee a disappointing raise each year, to the point where the person moves on, or bumping up the person’s salary until the company can no longer afford it.

I have personally made this mistake multiple times. I’ve witnessed employees hit their salary cap early in their tenures and leave in frustration, or I eventually had to let them go because I couldn’t keep paying them more. It was not only embarrassing, but my poor planning cost the company.

Hiring managers should determine in advance the maximum they can pay someone in a given role, based on the candidate’s experience and geographic location. A starting package should leave room to increase with regular raises during the life cycle of the employee’s estimated time in the role — be it two years, three years, or five. And any increases should be tied to reaching the goals necessary to make the employee a profitable contributor.

Align employees’ performance with company metrics

Workers tend to be more engaged when they understand what’s required of them to advance. This is especially true for people aged 20 to 35, according to a report by strategy firm Department 26 about Millennials’ workplace satisfaction.
Millennials may have a stronger desire for more specific goals, but all employees benefit from managers taking the time to communicate key performance indicators (KPIs) they are expected to meet or exceed. For example, a social media manager might be rated on the number of new Facebook followers or retweets on Twitter.

Spelling out those goals — and updating them regularly — can help companies track their efficiency relative to employees’ output. In today’s fast-paced world, meeting once or twice a year to discuss an employee’s performance is no longer sufficient. Managers should have regular check-ins about KPIs and measure progress in milestones.

With regular raises, clear expectations and the potential to advance if an employee keeps hitting or exceeding KPIs, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to retain good workers longer than the average four years. Nonetheless, companies still need to prepare for the possibility of employees’ eventual departures.

Succession planning

Ideally, by the time any employee has been in a role for a while, the company should begin thinking about how to prepare for when the person moves on, either because of a promotion or because the person has found another opportunity.

Cross-training staff gives everyone a better understanding of how a department works, and it can also help employees pick up the slack if someone leaves unexpectedly. One strategy is to have mid-level employees take new people on as protegees, both to train them and to help prepare them to take on more responsibilities as they advance.

At a minimum, managers should encourage all employees to document their work and best practices so that others can fill in for them during vacations, unexpected medical leaves, or if a person resigns. Having employees write training manuals for their jobs on an ongoing basis saves everyone time and money in the long run.

It’s impossible to build a business without recruiting the right people. To make sure you attract and retain the best talent, it’s critical to compensate correctly without breaking the bank. You also need to make sure workers are challenged and motivated throughout their employment and still ensure that you are not left scrambling if and when they decide to exit. It’s a delicate balance, but establishing a thoughtful strategy from day one will help you maximize each individual’s tenure with your company.