Chad Jackson

An Introduction to Talent Management: A Means to Stem Chaos in Engineering?

November 16, 2010

So far on this blog, we’ve talked about a lot of issues when managing an engineering organization. We’ve looked at generational issues from several different Boomer, GenX and GenY perspectives. We’ve looked at the CEO’s directive to engineering and how engineering can’t operate as a black box anymore. A way to address a number of these issues lies in Talent Management initiatives.

An Introduction to Talent Management: A Means to Stem Chaos in Engineering?

iStock_000011860969SmallSo far on this blog, we’ve talked about a lot of issues when managing an engineering organization. We’ve looked at generational issues from several different Boomer, GenX and GenY perspectives. We’ve looked at the CEO’s directive to engineering and how engineering can’t operate as a black box anymore. A way to address a number of these issues lies in Talent Management initiatives. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia on Talent Management that serves as a good introduction.

Talent management is a process that emerged in the 1990s and continues to be adopted, as more companies come to realize that their employees’ talents and skills drive their business success. Companies that have put into practice talent management have done so to solve an employee retention problem. The issue with many companies today is that their organizations put tremendous effort into attracting employees to their company, but spend little time into retaining and developing talent. A talent management system must be worked into the business strategy and implemented in daily processes throughout the company as a whole. It cannot be left solely to the human resources department to attract and retain employees, but rather must be practiced at all levels of the organization. The business strategy must include responsibilities for line managers to develop the skills of their immediate subordinates. Divisions within the company should be openly sharing information with other departments in order for employees to gain knowledge of the overall organizational objectives. Companies that focus on developing their talent integrate plans and processes to track and manage their employee talent, including the following:

Talent management is also known as HCM (Human Capital Management), HRIS (HR Information Systems) or HRMS (HR Management Systems), and HR Modules.

I remember when I first heard of this thing called ‘Talent Management’ in the context of engineering. I thought it would be a long time before these types of practices would be adopted in such a technical field. You see, in my experience, the most technical astute engineers are often the ones that get promoted into management positions. And just because you’re technically skilled doesn’t mean you’re good at managing people. There’s quite a distinction between the two skillsets. Given the challenges the engineering profession is facing on the front end around the STEM graduate shortfall (wikipedia entry) and the back end around impending retirement of a slew of Boomer engineers, Talent Management initiatives seem like a natural fit. In short, it’s a way to stem some of the potential chaos caused by turnover in the engineering organization.

What do you think? Sound off. Do you think Talent Management initiatives are needed for engineering organizations?

Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.

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