Introduction: Overview and Identification of the Crucial Issues
Talent Management: “Giving the ‘Old Wine in New Bottles’ a New Taste”
Building a team of successful employees who are confident, both about their opportunities in the company, and the chances for professional and personal growth is an essential part of the talent management (TM) process. Therefore, although training programs that offer employees a rapid increase in the quantity and the quality of competencies possessed by the staff members are essential, it is also imperative to offer the people working for the company options for career growth.
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Although Nordkalk, a company operating on Finnish cultural premises and the corresponding concepts of professional development, does offer its staff members extensive options for improving their competencies and acquiring new skills, it blocks young professionals’ access to career promotion, which discourages staff members and, therefore, may serve as a factor in a drastic drop in the firm’s performance.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for the redesign of the current HR approach toward TM-related issues. More importantly, the entire concept of TM, as well as the company’s corporate philosophy, will have to be revisited and changed slightly to allow the framework to incorporate an opportunity for the employees to be heard. Unless the needs of the staff members, an essential segment of the company’s stakeholders, are heard, motivation rates are going to plummet, leading to the untimely and unavoidable demise of the organization. A more detailed focus on the staff’s needs, along with a thorough analysis of the feedback retrieved from them, will serve as the foundation for building a more compelling framework.
Differences between the Program and Human Resource Management
On the one hand, the program designed by the Nordkalk HR managers can be deemed as moderately sensible. Aimed at locating the gaps in people’s knowledge and abilities, this program empowers employees to acquire the requisite competencies within a relatively short amount of time, serving as a reminder of their ability to excel in their domain.
The human resource management (HRM) approach used by Nordkalk as the tool for enhancing employees’ performance, however, leaves much to be desired, as it discourages the employees in the way it points to the impossibility of gaining a promotion, based on the firm’s culture, values, and policies.
As stressed above, the focus of the program is primarily on the opportunities for professional growth that the employees will supposedly experience after they enroll in one of the courses suggested, and participate in the corresponding activities. As the program ends, however, the participants find themselves engaged in a competition so fierce that there is scarcely any possibility of winning it. As a result, the employees become easily frustrated and thus, lose a considerable part of their enthusiasm, even after acquiring the skills guaranteed by the program.
Considering the reasons for the phenomenon mentioned above to occur, one must address the company’s concept of talent management. According to the definition supported by the leaders of the organization, as well as forming the foundation for the TM programs, talent is an intrinsic ability that cannot be fostered in the employees and, instead, can only be supported. While attempting to be nondiscriminatory, the term “competence management,” which the entrepreneurship leaders use instead of TM, limits the chances for staff members to excel in their competencies as well as develop talents.
As a result, the current programs, split into three types in accordance with the positions that an employee may take at Nordkalk, though aimed at increasing competency, in fact, instead have the actual effect of discouraging the people who enroll in them.
Talent Management as a Practice with a Long-Term Development Focus
Increasing Organizational Performance and Human Capital Advantage
It would be wrong to claim, though, that the programs suggested to the staff members by Nordkalk are entirely pointless. On the contrary, they serve as perfect tools for promoting the idea of consistent personal and professional progress among the employees, thereby triggering an immediate rise in the value of the company’s human capital. In addition, the programs may serve to cause a rapid rise in the employees’ loyalty levels. Indeed, when prompted to feel that they are valued by the organization and that Nordkalk is ready to invest in their growth, the employees are likely to improve their performance within the organization. As a result, the company’s human capital may become the key competitive advantage of the entrepreneurship.
However, the corporate philosophy, based on the Finnish idea of talent as an innate characteristic and, therefore, leading to a lack of opportunities for promotion, can be considered a significant impediment in enhancing enthusiasm among staff members. Consequently, the human capital advantage of entrepreneurship will increase consistent with the adoption of the identified tool.
Seeing that the emphasis on the significance of the long-term practice of development is primarily important for the staff members, as it leads them to acquire relevant knowledge and information on a regular basis without the assistance of the managers or any other superior figure, it can be considered a crucial tool in designing the increase in the human capital advantage. First and most obvious, the employees become more independent in their work.
As a result, they are capable of making essential decisions based not only on their own needs but also the needs of the company. At this point, the importance of promoting the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) becomes a factor. Indeed, the process of increasing organizational performance can be enhanced by encouraging the program aimed at reinforcing the concept of CSR and lifelong learning (LL) among the staff members.
While the former will serve as a foil for the participants to develop a better understanding of corporate needs and ethics, the latter will become the foundation for the enhancement of independent learning and therefore, increase their competencies on a regular basis. The long-term development focus thus creates the impression of consistency and reinforces the idea of professional and economic security among the staff members.
However, without substantive proof supporting the idea that the staff’s efforts are valued, e.g., the provision of certain benefits such as an increase in salary, as well as a job promotion, the efficacy of the long-term development program is nullified. At this point, the corporate culture that the current framework is built on needs to be brought up. As stressed above, the idea of only certain, choice people having assets that can be developed into talents can be seen not only as discriminatory to the staff members who are viewed as “talentless,” but also harmful to the company, because of the number of chances that the entrepreneurship managers overlook.
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Therefore, if viewing the programs as the gradual process of fostering required skills among staff members, based on their unique assets, they are likely to work quite well. However, for the programs to have an effect, they should offer a chance to all stakeholders involved to receive the relevant information, and not only to those who are credited as talented by the company HR managers.
Opaque Competency Development: Where the Company Went Wrong
Essential benefits: what the staff members should not know
By preventing the staff members from learning about their success in the acquisition of competencies, the managers create premises for even greater progress. There is always a threat that, in reaching a relatively high mark, an employee will feel that their current amount of knowledge is enough. By focusing on the gaps in people’s knowledge, as opposed to the appraisal of what they have achieved, the firm creates an environment in which people are always ready to learn more, and where they never consider a certain amount of information or a specific number of skills to be enough.
The identified framework is especially important for participants who are unwilling to accept the concept of lifelong learning and are ready to quit as soon as they feel that they have learned a new skill. Preventing similar situations, the entrepreneurship managers allow the employees to experience the full extent of their abilities and stretch their intellectual muscles so that the members of the company are able to understand the significance of consistent training and the unceasing acquisition of necessary knowledge and relevant skills.
In addition, the lack of focus on the achievements of the people involved also sets the background for a drop in the levels of competition among the staff, thus helping the latter focus on delivering good performance, as opposed to an increasing and potentially harmful rivalry. One must admit that the introduction of a certain modicum of competitiveness into the environment of an average workplace may serve as a booster for the employees to deliver even better performance.
The ethical foundation for the rivalry, however, will be very flawed in the specified case. Consequently, it is expected that the participants may resort to comparatively unethical choices in order to attain a higher score in their performance, which is highly undesirable, given the need to encourage CSR among the staff. Even considering the fact that the chances of corporate fraud are relatively small in the identified setting, the introduction of competition as a part and parcel of the corporate environment does not seem sensible at the given stage of the employees’ ethical and professional development.
Obvious disadvantages: in desperate need of encouragement
One must admit, though, that the strategy used currently in the organization may lead to a drastic drop in staff members’ motivation rates. People need encouragement, as well as information that will point to a further course for personal and professional development, which the current opaque strategy does not provide. As stressed above, the idea of long-term development, which is evidently important for both the staff members and the organization at the identified stage of its development, requires regular encouragement (Chalofsky 2014).
Although the process of learning and development does shape the corporate culture in a very distinct and exact manner, it nevertheless requires a very specific environment to foster the necessary ideas in the staff members. The specifics of the Finnish culture, which do not recognize the idea of talent as a singular phenomenon and, instead, prefer to stratify company members into high- and low-potential categories, in their turn, serve as a major obstacle in people’s way, with respect to their being inspired and acquiring new competencies and skills.
The fact that the traditions of the Finnish culture do not imply the provision of any kind of feedback, let alone praise, aggravates the situation to an even greater degree. The focus on self-development in the context of the current TM program could work unless the company foisted its idea of the absence of feedback and public reward onto the target audience. Though the staff realizes the specific reasons that underlie the current framework of the organization’s HR strategy, this fact does not help, either. On the contrary, understanding that the approach is based on Finnish cultural traditions and therefore, unlikely to be changed in the observable future, causes people to become even more desperate and thus, tackle their work with even less enthusiasm.
Talent Pools and Their Effects on the Employees: Reducing Dissatisfaction Levels
Evaluation of the Current Approach to Employment Relations Management
Even though the situation described above can be thought of as somewhat desperate, the provision of talent pools as a means of proving that Nordkalk cares about its employees can be interpreted as a slight improvement. However, recent interviews with high-potential employees chosen as participants have shown that the outcomes are not viewed as satisfactory by a range of staff members.
A second look at the specifics of the talent pool has made it evident that the opinions of the participants were not taken into consideration, even though the employees selected for the program were regarded as high-potential. In other words, the lack of focus on the actual needs of the staff, and the unwillingness to hear the voice thereof, is the greatest problem of the people managing the program and the leaders of the entrepreneurship.
Indeed, from the tenets of the Harvard Model of HRM (Bratton & Gold 2012), the lack of feedback demonstrated by the managers and the corporate leaders is deplorable. Instead of listening to what the people had to say, the organizers of the event were acting based on what they thought the employees needed. The lack of analysis of the participants’ impressions when the program concluded could also be considered a substantial mistake, since it left the employees with the feeling that the program was meant, not for their benefit, but for the good of the organization.
The employment relationships in the TM initiative, therefore, were managed in a relatively disorganized way. The outcomes of the program could easily have been much better and might have left the participants much more satisfied if more thought had been introduced into the design of the feedback between the participants and the managers. In particular, one possible recommendation would have been a short interview with each of the members after the completion of a new stage of the program had been carried out.
Alternatively, personal feedback submitted in written form and analyzed carefully, with the further provision of a detailed response, could have been a decent solution to the dilemma. Instead, Nordkalk managers assumed that they were aware of their staff’s needs to a greater degree than the participants themselves. The dents in the corporate ethics and philosophy served as the foundation for a rapid increase in staff dissatisfaction levels.
TM Initiatives and the Psychological Contract: Overview and Possible Suggestions
The use of the program mentioned above, though failing to increase motivation levels among the staff, nevertheless served as a foil for developing an understanding of why the staff members felt uncertain and often frustrated about the company’s current policies. As the interview with one of the employees has shown, the people taking part in the program, including the managers, realized the gravity of giving and receiving feedback.
The revelation made by the people participating in the program can be considered a major step forward in improving the relationships between the company managers and the staff members. Particularly, the importance of a psychological contract between the identified stakeholders has been accepted and is likely to be incorporated into the company’s further HR strategy.
Naturally, assuming that personal interviews, carried out frequently, are a possibility would be a stretch. Although interviews with the entirety of 400 people are possible, communicating in this fashion with every member on a regular basis is not. With this in mind, the company may consider a quantitative assessment of surveys distributed among the employees every month as a possible tool for identifying people’s needs and creating the environment in which these needs could be met.
Furthermore, the significance of a psychological contract between the employees and the managers must be enhanced. Although the idea of carrying out surveys does seem comparatively efficient, it is desirable that every staff member should feel a personal connection with the manager. The identified requirement can be implemented in the context of the company by splitting the staff into several groups (e.g., each group containing 15-20 participants) and assigning a manager to coordinate the relationships in each group. As a result, the analysis of the information supplied by the employees, as well as the subsequent provision of feedback, will be carried out in a much more efficient and expeditious manner (Amabile & Kramer 2013).
Managers and Their Understanding of the Gravity of Incompliance with the TM Framework
Encouraging Line Managers to Be More Active: Promotion of New Corporate Values and Ethics
Apart from pointing out the flaws in the company’s HR strategy design, the evaluation has also indicated that the HR managers designing the corresponding programs for the participants and coordinating the relationships in the workplace, in fact, significantly lack people-management skills. Therefore, the emphasis should also be shifted toward promoting the acquisition of people-management skills among the company’s managers.
The identified issues are concerned with not merely summarizing the key specifics of the employees’ performance, but also giving an evaluation of the employees’ actions so that the target audience could determine the areas that they should work on. Despite the promotion of self-directed learning among the members of the company, the importance of an outside assessment is not to be underrated, either.
The changes mentioned above can be carried out with only a slight change in the current design of the company’s ethics and philosophy. First and most obvious, the importance of staff satisfaction must be understood and accepted by every single manager. Next, it will be essential to replace the current promotion system with a new one that will give the employees an opportunity to experience career growth.
Additionally, the employees should be introduced to the idea of CSR at the same time as they are made aware of the options for career advancement. Once knowing that they, in fact, can pursue professional growth in the context of the corporate hierarchy, the employees are likely to accept the new philosophy and start acquiring the corresponding competencies, abilities, and ideas quite eagerly (Williams 2013).
Role of HR in Promoting a Better Understanding of the Effects of Line Managers on the Talent Management Processes
There is no need to stress the fact that the HR representatives are going to have a key role in enhancing the line managers’ understanding of TM processes. To be more accurate, the HR experts will have to focus on designing the philosophical framework and the tools for shaping the strategies adopted by the managers to help them prepare for the change. For instance, the concept of fairness must be included in the operation of processing the feedback retrieved from the staff.
On a larger scale, the entire concept of feedback must be altered so that line managers will be able to appreciate the data that the staff provides to them, and appreciate their readiness to cooperate. Since the idea of feedback as something excessive is incorporated into the very basis of Finnish philosophy and ethics, changing the mind frame of the company’s line managers is going to be a challenge.
Therefore, it will be the task of the HR experts to design a strategy that will compel the line managers to reconsider their current approach toward TM and instead, view feedback and its analysis as an essential step toward improving the performance of the organization. For this purpose, Kotter’s 8-stage change model could be used as the means of gradually introducing line managers to the new philosophy, while helping them accept the fact that communication between the staff and the employer must be consistent (Huchinson & Purcell 2007).
Specifically, the first stage will involve sending a message concerning the urgency of the change, which can be done by altering corporate values toward the recognition of the needs of the staff and the significance of feedback. A change in the set of requirements for the employees, with an emphasis on consistent development, should be viewed as the second part of the process. Forming a strategic vision and inviting people to take part in the change can be deemed as the third and the fourth steps.
Next, cultural prejudices will have to be addressed to remove all barriers, a set of objectives for short-term wins will have to be designed, and the further progress of the staff will have to be supported with incentives and appraisals. Finally, the change will be instituted by giving the expected raise to the participants of the programs and enabling them to engage in self-development (Benson 2014).
Conclusion: When a Company Needs to Get Its Priorities Straight
Creating an environment that will convince staff members to develop new skills and abilities, as well as focus on improving their current performance and delivering results of the best possible quality, will only become an opportunity in entrepreneurship that will recognize its staff’s equality and be ready to hear the employees’ voices. In particular, it is imperative that Nordkalk should deviate from its traditional, Finnish-culture-inspired set of values that dismiss the phenomenon of talent.
By considering talent as something intrinsic, and therefore, singling out specific employees for distinct purposes, the company disregards the opportunity for their personal and professional growth, and therefore, blocks their way to any kind of progress.
More importantly, by failing to hear the opinions of the staff members, the company fails to acquire the necessary feedback to shape current HR approaches so that they serve the needs of the staff members. As a result, dissatisfaction rates are increasing. Unless Nordkalk starts viewing the process of retrieving and analyzing the feedback from its key stakeholders, the staff members being one of the latter, the entrepreneurship will not be able to progress.
In other words, Nordkalk will have to view the needs of the employees as one of the most important issues to address, along with the needs of its customers. Similarly, the training process should trigger tangible outcomes, such as a promotion or the provision of financial incentives. Even more important, the firm should consider designing training courses that will be shaped to meet the professional needs and expectations of the people employed in the company.
Thus, staff satisfaction levels are likely to rise quickly, along with the performance efficacy of the staff. Moreover, the identified approach may serve as a foundation for enhancing the significance of CSR and corporate ethics aimed at customer satisfaction and reduction of waste among the employees. As soon as the needs of the latter are recognized, Nordkalk will be able to enter a new stage of development and become even more efficient.
Amabile, T, & Kramer, S 2013, The progress principle: using small wins to ignite joy, engagement, and creativity at work, Harvard Business Press, Harvard, MA.
Benson, V 2014, Cutting-edge technologies and social media use in higher education, IGI Global, New York, NY.
Bratton, J, & Gold, J 2012, Human resource management: theory and practice, Palgrave, New York, NY.
Chalofsky, N F 2014, Handbook of human resource development, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.
Huchinson, S, & Purcell, J 2007, Learning and the line: the role of line managers in training, learning and development. Web.
Williams, O F 2013, Corporate social responsibility: The role of business in sustainable development, Routledge, New York, NY.