CEOs and Talent Management

First, understand that “Talent Management” is not some vague concept, but quite simply:

(1) Identifying, sourcing & recruiting talent,
(2) Developing and motivating talent, and
(3) Retaining talent.

It stands to reason that the CEO MUST be pivotal in any successful talent management strategy. I recently surveyed my current and past clients on this specific topic, and “Talent Management,” as described above, is far and away their number one concern moving forward. Above markets, pricing pressures, and even recent legislation challenges.

CEOs are crucial in the identification & recruitment phase; they must establish what skills, attributes and competencies are necessary for developing future key players. That initial
definition – the foundation – must come from the very top. This doesn’t mean in a vacuum, with no input from anyone; it does, however, mean no delegation allowed.

A CEO’s role is also integral to motivating and developing that talent. Once you find a “keeper,” effective skill development (to match your organizational needs) and deployment (right job, right person) are keys to success. Identify the key employee, then pinpoint what skills and behavior that employee needs to lead tomorrow, perhaps even in a different functional area. Then work on “the gap.”

Assuming the hiring process was successful, it’s too arduous and resource-intensive to repeat, hence the CEOs essential input into retention. Key players – those most focused on in talent management – need to know they have a purpose beyond departmental or shorter-range goals. The CEO is essential for that understanding. An effective CEO can retain talent even in the face of lackluster direct management.

In short, the CEO’s role is becoming more defined today as “principally” talent management — along with a lot of other burining priorities. It’s no longer a sideline job. Done correctly, however, it can expand the CEO’s reach, and help distribute that ever-growing list of “must-do” things falling on your shoulders.