Article (April-2017)


2017 Disruptions- Disrupting talent stars

Dr. Ganesh Shermon

Designation : -   Managing Partner

Organization : -  RiverForest Foundation, Canada


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"Stars are beautiful, but they must not take an active part in anything, they must just look on forever. It is a punishment put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was."- J.M. Barrie. Yet Stars form the core of an organizational success. What makes these stars closer to ground so very different. Perhaps disruption!

People Disruption - Rise of Stars Skills & Competencies
Competition for skills and talent is increasing. More importantly, this competition for skills is expected to intensify and become even more competitive when the Baby Boomers begin to retire (2012). Another issue is a mismatch between the skills and education young people are acquiring in their postsecondary educations and what's needed in the work force. The search for talent has become increasingly competitive over the past several years. Talent plays a significant role in leading organizations.

Digital organizations use leadership centers widely to ensure that they have a significant leadership pipeline. (Shermon and Shermon 2016). For example, in a Partnership consulting firm there is a never ending need for a large supply of partners to handle clients and balance sheet requirements, for example every balance sheet needs to be signed by a Partner as per the Institute of Chartered Association.

Clients in the consulting world also expect that mature leaders who understand the challenges and issues of the organization should handle their assignments. Experts from the consulting firms believe that this need for leadership center is built into their HR policies and is a frequent program.


  • The findings indicate that for organizations with less than 1000 employees, 82.5% of the organizations assess less than 100 employees, 13.4 % organizations assess between 100 to 300 employees and 4.1 % of the organizations assess greater than 300 employees.


  • For organizations with 1000 employees, 50.9 % of the organizations assess less than 100 employees, 31.5 % of organizations assess between 100 to 300 employees, 17.6% of the organizations assess more than 300 employees.


  • For large organizations with greater than 5000 employees, 49.4 % organizations assess less than 1000 employees, 30 % assess 100 to 300 employees and 20.6 % of the organizations assess greater than 300 employees.

Stars did not become stars just like that. There was an institutional emphasis that made them the stars, there was an individual effort that prompted them to become stars and there was a drive and desire that could not have been fulfilled for them unless they became and made their institutions stars.

Stars became stars because of people who were willing to make the time and effort to make these people stars. I have come across a powerful and a silent group of people who were making it their business to make stars for their corporations or for whatever purpose they were involved in.  They made stars out of people who met with them. They were into careers for others.

People disruption- The talent wave
"It has never been as good for people in the corporate sector as it has been now". Demands ranging from "double my compensation, offer my spouse employment, provide me flexi time, I need to fly to Singapore once every fortnight to see my children studying in a boarding school, to I need to bring along three of my colleagues as team members" are but a select few of the promises being made to bring talent into organizations. That talent wave is here to stay is no doubt but is the solution to this problem promising what is not sustainable is not the answer. In fact research is beginning to indicate that time has now come to call the talent shortage bluff. Any examination of organizational retention needs to transcend an examination of "why people leave.

"People don't leave companies, they leave managers." Is an oft repeated phrase in retention strategy conversation? "And the problem is not about getting talent - Employees who resign from one company join another". If that is true, then why don't organizations invest in learning processes and development programs that enable their leaders to keep their talent? Doesn't it make sense that better managers will yield better employee retention? In a consulting firm's focus group research, over 80% of respondents indicated difficulty in retaining talent rather than constraints in attracting talent; about 25% of the participants indicated they have strategies in place to deal with skill shortages, as and when they arise; but over 90% of the organizations were at a loss to identify concrete issues within their organizations that hindered employee retention. Common place issues were all available, like difficulties with the immediate manager, lack of enriched job, not so competitive compensation, absence of developmental opportunities and poor systems for learning.

Talent stability - Substantively speaking, what we are facing today is a multi-dimensional talent problem that in turn requires a multi-pronged approach to address. And at the heart of this challenge is a large bulge of people on the verge who transit from one company to another primarily on account of an inability to cope with business, job and growth challenges. There is a critical mass of incompetent people who do not know how to contribute and sustain growth in an economy which is growing despite people and their direct contribution. It is all about managing employees who lack capabilities to deliver, staff who have not been trained to follow processes, leaders who cannot lead and technocrats who are unable to resolve issues. An organization that is lumped with an employee mass that consists of volume rather than value is facing a combination of attraction & retention issues and not always is the issue resolved in fixing an internal problem to help employees stay for longer periods. And the solution lies in deploying talent structures that are tight and robust with planned tight headcounts based on employee typology, qualified competence rather than hiring in loads that are pulling down an overall performance.

Talent skeptics - "Engage influential positive and negative skeptics. Skeptics can either offer tremendous value to a change process or turn a minor hurdle into a major roadblock. Although change leaders may often believe that the concerns of skeptics will naturally dissolve, working with skeptics early in the process is time well invested. Positive skeptics may offer important perspectives and insights about the vulnerabilities of proposed changes. For example, positive skeptics in the sustainability initiative may include production floor stewards who have heard rumors that an environmental overhaul of their processing plant is in the works but no one has yet communicated the specifics. They may grow resentful that no one is soliciting their input. Bringing them into the process by asking for their ideas and exploring their underlying reasons for opposition invariably will uncover challenges and risks that are better dealt with preemptively. Better yet, a representative from this stakeholder group could be asked to help shape the initiative from the start. Equally important is working directly with influential negative skeptics. Sometimes consciously, sometimes unwittingly, these cynics may kindle underground resistance that could derail the change if their concerns are not addressed. Returning to the sustainability example, many baby-boomer employees might fear they lack the skills needed to succeed in the new environment.

They may worry that they will be replaced by younger employees trained to work with the newer, environmentally friendly technologies and processes. Being transparent and up-front about the consequences of the changes, and delineating what opportunities will exist for training and/or outplacement support and exit packages if there are layoffs, would help alleviate some of the anxiety" say the authors (Ellen R Auster Et All) in SMR 2013. Ellen R. Auster and Trish Ruebottom continue to emphasize on this need. "Positive or negative, skeptics should be embraced and their concerns heard.

Developing action steps to address issues raised by positive skeptics early is important in order to prevent resistance from escalating. Listening carefully to the concerns of negative skeptics is also critical. Addressing their concerns honestly sends a clear message that their perspective is important, that the change will not be force-fed to them and that transparency and openness are valued. This will not only promote success in this change, but it will also build receptivity for future changes that are inevitably around the corner.

If leaders do not have time to address skeptics' concerns directly, they may choose to recruit influential sponsors and promoters to help. However, they should ensure that two-way communication channels are in place. This will ensure that shortcomings of the change highlighted by positive skeptics are not overlooked and will contribute to strategies that alleviate some of the anxieties of negative skeptics. A talent mindset is the deep-seated belief that having better talent at all levels is how you out perform your competitors. It is gained by identifying talent who fit in effectively with an organizational knowledge needs built around a capability profile that sustains its competitiveness and is definitely not driven by hiring a critical mass to meet with a quarter to quarter wall street analysts thirst for valuation information. One should accept that organizational knowledge is socially constructed and that deconstructing this knowledge will permit new insight".

Talent mate - Neel Gandhi and Bryan Hancockin McKinsey Quarterly 2015, write on "Getting beyond bureaucracy in human resources". "Many leadership-development efforts don't achieve their goals, because they ignore the business context and offer insufficient opportunities for personal reflection and individualization. While it would be easy to conclude that corporate HR can add little value to leadership development, the reality is more complicated. Letting "a thousand flowers bloom" often means that leadership gets ignored in some corners of a company and that others reinvent the wheel too often. An assertive HR department clarifies expectations for leadership development across the company, provides a baseline backbone of proven tools and methodologies, and flags priorities to adapt them to the needs of businesses and individuals.

HR and business-unit leaders then collaborate to fine-tune programs. Managers must lead, and HR must help them to do so. But the well-founded inclination to swing the HR-process pendulum away from bureaucracy and toward a freer hand for management should not lead organizations to veer from "ditch to ditch". Shifting too drastically is plainly a bad idea; in many cases, a complete HR overhaul is unnecessary. At all events, HR has opportunities to assert its expertise and strategic thinking in a low-profile, nonintrusive way. That requires both rigor and restraint-but, we've found, provides the sort of insights about talent, leadership, and performance management that all companies need, regardless of their size".

Emerging talent reward trends - There is no doubt that motivation is the crux for good performance, but there is no clear-cut answer to the question of how to motivate. The previous pages gave a glimpse of the answer through various theories and practices. While, there are several theories on motivation and practices, but there is no getting away from money. Money is a factor in motivating people and this section concentrates on this.

For talent, money is important! This is, perhaps, saying the obvious. But it still needs to be said, for a perusal of the previous section may give the impression to the contrary, at least judging from MASLOW'S concept. Refreshing as it is, if the theory was completely valid then, at least in affluent countries, economic incentives should have lost all their force. Even dedicated footballers do not think of playing for a country, they merely pay 'lip service' to it.

Cricketers and rugby players no longer play for their own country but opt for the 'highest bidder'. Professional tennis players have refused to play at Wimbledon, the 'Vatican' of lawn tennis, because the rewards were not attractive. It is no different in the industrial world. Strikes for better salary and rewards do still occur. All this despite the claim of psychologists that security is the prime need of a person, as indicated in the previous section. Has the sense of values changed with time? But we are not concerned here with the philosophical angle, but with hard facts of life in a commercial world. Self-motivation can go only so far and it needs to be constantly reinforced by rewards. In particular, merit must be measured and rewarded regularly, if it is to be encouraged and sustained.

Give People an Experience, to avoid them from straying and being lost in the SKY as a STAR!