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What's Next for Talent?

By Alice Kwan

Alice Kwan
Deloitte Consulting LLP


As companies around the world consider the possibility of returning to a growth-oriented footing, many are concerned about the same big issue: Talent. Will they be able to find the talent they need — where they need it? Will they be able to get the results they need from the talent they already have on board? What strategies do they need to have in place when they expand into new markets? Which specific leadership development tools will deliver the recognized results?

Our January 2012 survey report polled just under 400 senior executives and talent managers at large companies around the world, and across a range of industries, for their thoughts on some of the most pressing talent issues they face. Here are a few of our findings:

Many executives are looking to strengthen their leadership development pipelines and programs

Survey respondents anticipate greater executive leadership shortages over the next several years than any other talent category in their companies. Approximately one-third (30%) of executives surveyed ranked developing leaders and succession planning as today’s top talent priority — the highest of any response in the survey.

They are also exploring new accelerated leadership development programs to overcome expected shortfalls in leadership positions. A nearly equal percentage (29%) predicted it will likely remain the top talent concern over the next three years.

As talent demands go increasingly global, the pressure is building to create talent strategies that can both scale (for size and efficiency) and focus on regional markets

A significant percentage of executives surveyed predict talent shortages to develop over the next year, but the areas of major need vary widely by region.

Challenges are expected to be most pronounced in Asia-Pacific with 61% of the respondents expecting to see talent shortages in the next year with the shortages varying by function. Research and Development tops the list of expected talent shortages in Asia, with 68% of respondents indicating “significant or moderate talent shortages” in that area. The going may be a bit easier in areas, such as marketing and finance, but not by much — in both cases, 56% expect shortages in those functional areas as well.

Asia is not the only place to be worried about talent shortages — a full 45% of respondents expect to see talent shortages in the Americas and 33% in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Survey participants in the Americas saw executive leadership and operations as the main talent gaps (both 56%), while business leaders in the EMEA region were far less concerned about shortfalls
in talent.

This dual emphasis of scale and focus is increasing its important as companies seek to both exploit the global reach — and cost efficiencies — of talent systems and processes while zeroing in on the unique challenges within regional and country markets.

Many corporate talent programs are falling short on performance and investment

Many business leaders at the companies surveyed see the need for significant improvement in specific areas across their talent management programs. Those executives who rated their talent programs as “world-class” also give higher ratings than their peers to both their capabilities and their levels of investment.

Only 17% of executives surveyed believed their talent programs were “world-class across the board,” while 83% acknowledged that significant improvements need to be made. Executives who call their talent efforts “world-class” were more likely to report — by margins of 20% or more — that their companies were investing in these programs at a “high” level.

Talent is back in the spotlight — and many executives are reassessing the tools they have in place to find, develop and retain the people they need. Ultimately, further investment will likely be required for these companies to build the leading talent programs they need.

In short, many are taking responsibility for their future and focusing their investments on their leading priorities — rebuilding and developing new talent programs for leaders and other specific employees. One thing is clear: In this environment, you should not leave anything to chance.


A Response from an Industry Leader

Andy Liakopoulos
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Having talked to plenty of clients recently about these issues, I see three of the same questions keep coming up time after time.  If you’re one of those people who knows your talent strategy isn’t world-class, but you’re also not sure what to do about it, it may help to stay laser-focused on these three questions.  Where can we find opportunities for growth in an uncertain economy that is recovering at different rates in different regions?  Do we have the right talent in the right places to leverage those opportunities?  And do we have the talent, leaders, and talent programs to weather the economic, technological, and regulatory challenges ahead?  

Those aren’t all the questions you’ll have to answer, of course, but they may be the most important ones.  Start there.

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