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Nurturing a culture of talent supply-and-demand

In the fourth episode of our new podcast series on talent management, Professor Ans de Vos of Antwerp Management School and the University of Antwerp once again takes to the recording booth with SD Worx HR Evangelist Jan Laurijssen. Today they’re considering: how do you build your own talent supply chain? Listen to the full episode to find out.

      Full Transcript

      Jan: Welcome once again to our Perfect Match podcast series on talent management. Already a fourth podcast, joined by Ans De Vos. We had a very interesting third podcast but we ran out of time and you remembered something that you wanted to share about talent hoarding and talent mobility.

      Ans: If we discuss this idea of what is a talent supply chain, that it is also about the dynamics of the processes that enable you to match your talent needs with the available talent, internally or externally. And one of the recurring complaints, often, when we listen to people in organisations about their career and their lack of taking initiative for internal career moves has often to do with the line manager. Line managers not always being so willing to let their people go or to stimulate their people to look around in the organisation. Where people feel [somewhat] constrained and not daring to take those steps. 

      There has been published interesting research recently in the Academy of Management Journal, where in a large organisation there has been an analysis of the data that were available about job applications. And we're talking here about a five year period, about 10,000 applications for about 5000 jobs. And where we clearly saw that those managers who themselves were more promoting their employees in their team to take steps in the organisation, who are really supporting the advancement of their people, were attracting not only more internal candidates when there was a vacancy in their team, but also better qualified people, and a richer diversity of people, from different functional domains or different parts of the company. Which is actually a clear sign that promoting mobility also fosters your chances of attracting interesting new candidates in your team.

      Jan: So that promotes your personal employer brand internally. Let's call it that.

      Ans: Indeed.

      Jan: Very interesting, talking about supply chain management, the idea that we can build a pipeline of talent in times where labour is short, we might think that talent management approaches can fall short in the face of structural imbalances between the labour market supply and demand, meaning that organisations will probably only find a percentage of what they need on the market to buy. They might borrow other talent, which is also a practice that we see more and more, using consultants and freelancers.

      How are we going to bridge that gap with talent supply chain management? Are there opportunities?

      Ans: I still believe that indeed, the idea of talent supply chain is a very valuable way to look at: how can we make sure that we are ready for the future? But at the same time, we should be aware of how we are making those predictions. Because if you look at calculating the number of jobs that might become vacant in the future, looking at how many people that are possibly available internally, externally, having interesting databases on that, etc., you again focus on the building blocks, but you don't put things in motion. So, it is about really analysing what are the processes that we use here and are they not only efficient, and can we optimise them, but also effective?

      I found some interesting numbers in your study where six out of ten people say, I know where my talent can be used further in the organisation, meaning four out of ten have no idea. So, if you then want to have a good forecasting of where do people want to go, but people already base their own decisions on maybe wrong and insufficient information, you create already some mistakes. Which might also help to explain why at a certain moment you might say, this supply chain approach is not really working, because now we do have a vacancy and we don't find anybody.

      Jan: Does it also mean that it's an even bigger challenge if we want to think about job destruction, job creation?

      How about future jobs? Can we forecast for that? Can we prepare people for that?

      Ans: That's, I think, a big holy grail. We might at this time be convinced that we know what kind of jobs there will be disappearing, how many of those jobs, what new kind of jobs there might be… But still, if you look at how companies are these days, almost adjusting their strategic processes or their forecasting every six months or so, it is for HR almost impossible to now say from now and five years on, these jobs will have disappeared and these will be the new jobs. Because to some extent there will always be a highly reactive part in being capable to quickly adapt once the moment is there.

      Jan: Can I conclude that, despite the possibilities and the opportunities that talent supply chain, using analytics may help us to improve the process, it probably will still fall short because there are so many unknowns?

      Ans: Absolutely. And then the better we master the process and we prepare people also to show this capacity to change and to flexibly develop new skills when needed, the more we can deal with the inconsistencies and unpredictability that will inevitably be there.

      Jan: Thank you, Ans.

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