Author interview

Extract from an interview with the publisher of Talent Management, February 2011

Where did the idea for the book come from?
SH  When I travelled around Britain in early 2009 and spoke to HR directors. I was absolutely amazed at their optimism and resilience. Talent management was providing a clear direction and a platform for these companies to stage a post recession recovery. I started my voyage of discovery expecting to find pessimism in the boardroom. Instead I found gritty determination and clear objectivity. A real Dunkirk spirit!
What’s going on in the business world today that your book has something important to say about?
SH. I think that globalisation has created a new cadre of talented individuals who move around the world’s economic hotspots – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai and Mumbai. An international company with offices in 23 countries needs management that is flexible, multi-lingual and able to travel between locations and ensure consistency of product and message. This lies at the heart of the current arguments in government about putting a cap on migrant workers. At the same time the knowledge economy, the internet, has broken down barriers and people are coming together in virtual teams to work across borders and across continents. Having a clear policy on defining talent helps businesses identify and nurture their future star players.
Is this one for a global audience?
SH: Any manager seeking to gain competitive advantage for his company should read this. Any leader wanting to engage the workforce and encourage people to go the extra mile should read this.
If there is one critical message that you would like readers take from your work, what would it be?
SH :You need to link your talent management activities – recruitment, retention, management development and so on with business strategy. Talent management implies companies need to diversify – to get a balance of age groups especially give opportunities to Gen Y and to women and ethnic minorities. Talent is not confined to whether you went to the right kind of school or university. Talent is colour and gender blind. Having a mixed team brings with it creativity and an open mindedness that businesses need to build a better future.
Do these ideas work?
SH. Not always. Talent management is a constant process of improvement. It’s a journey. You can never say you’ve arrived. Any manager who believes they have found a set of rules which if followed will lead to universal employee engagement and profits needs to think again. These strategies are ultimately about leaders being authentic and about having emotional intelligence which sadly few people seem to possess. It’s all about communicating a vision that people can sign up to.
Finally, any questions that you’d like to ask your readers?
SH. Do you have the emotional intelligence to recognise and promote someone who has greater potential than you? How open minded are you to accepting great ideas – no matter where they come from? Putting salary and bonuses aside, what processes does your organisation have to recognise and motivate talented individuals?