3 Reasons Your Organization Needs a Talent Philosophy: HR Unplugged Ep. 6

A talent philosophy can help your business increase productivity, reduce turnover, and improve employee engagement. In episode 6 of HR Unplugged, Anita Grantham, Head of HR at BambooHR, outlined everything you need to create a talent philosophy from scratch or revisit your current strategy to make it work better for your business. Here are some highlights from the discussion.

(And if you missed the last few episodes, you can check out episode 4 here and episode 5 here. Don’t forget to register for the next session so you can be part of the conversation!)

What is a talent philosophy?

A talent philosophy is the rules or guidelines you have in place to manage your talent—both existing talent and potential hires. A talent philosophy should include your leadership team’s preferences for managing talent and should align with your company’s mission, vision, and values.

Anita summarizes the goal of a talent philosophy as “the principles we look at for the talent you need to get your organization to the place you want to be in the future.”

If you’re ready to define or refine your talent philosophy, start by asking questions about what your organization’s goals are and the role your employees play in helping you achieve those goals. For example, if your company’s vision is to be the best in your industry, what does it mean to be the best? What are the skills and capabilities you need to be the best? Once you have those answers, you can build a profile and strategy around attracting the right type of talent to your organization.

“It starts with understanding what you’re trying to be and accomplish and then understanding how you can build a team to help achieve that dream,” says Anita. “And it doesn’t have to be complex. It can be simple.” Just by starting, you’ll be ahead of most organizations. Only 30 percent of companies have company-wide guidelines for how talent should be managed and as Anita shares, “That’s just not enough.”

Actionable Tip:

Whether you have a talent philosophy or not, take some time to sit down with a group of leaders in your business (e.g. head of customer service, head of sales, etc.). Ask these leaders what gaps they see in organization and build a strategy to fill those gaps.

How to build a talent philosophy that works?

In order to build a talent philosophy that works, you need to establish company objectives and your timeline. If your plan includes growth, define how you’ll achieve that growth. Will you expand your current base of customers with new products or services? Acquire new customers? Expand your target market?

If your revenue goals are to stay flat, Anita suggests that you “go deep and ask the right questions to understand what you really need from your talent.” Questions may include:

“This is a great exercise to reconnect with the business leaders at your organization. It's a time to put on your Inspector Gadget hat, start learning from your team and hearing their answers,” says Anita.

Actionable Tip:

Read this article—Let’s Hear it for B Players—Anita references in episode 6. Here’s a snippet of advice from the article, “We need to be better at securing and finding the people that just want to come in and do their job. They want to be respected and have fun—they don’t want to grow in their organization, etc.

What are the top 3 reasons you need a talent philosophy?

1. Decrease Turnover

Over 60 percent of companies fail to have regular discussions with their employees about career growth and aspirations. If you don’t have transparency written into your talent philosophy and your employees can’t see where they’re headed in your organization, they’ll leave. You can reduce turnover by being thoughtful about who you want to hire,and helping employees with career growth once they’re in your organization.

2. Increase Employee Engagement

If you have a clear strategy on how you want to manage current employees—how much managers are responsible for engagement vs. how much HR can assist—your talent philosophy can help increase employee engagement. This goes back to accountability and making sure it’s clear who owns what in the talent management process. And this will be a huge benefit to you as companies with highly engaged employees outperform their rivals by as much as 21 percent for profitability.

3. Close Capability Gaps

With a talent philosophy, managers and HR can work together to build out the quality and depth of talent your organization truly needs to meet company goals. This can help avoid hiring to fill a role simply because the work is piling up and you need a warm body.

“Remember, the number one question you need to ask yourself is this—can the talent you have today deliver on the business results you need tomorrow. If yes, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, it’s time to dig in.”

Watch all of HR Unplugged episode 6 here and enjoy more of Anita’s insights on talent philosophy, and join live on September 12 at 11 AM PT by registering for episode 7, “Five Pillars for Building a Positive Culture.”