Human Capital Management

Talent Management into the boardroom
Bringing Talent Management
into the Boardroom

Melanie Hache-Barrois,
HCM Strategy Director Southern Europe at Oracle, @mhacheB


To win the talent war, HR leaders must have a strategic approach that not only drives business growth, but shows leadership

When it comes to recruiting talent it’s no exaggeration to say there’s a fierce battle going on. Businesses are scrambling to build up a skilled workforce in the rush to compete, and this is placing more pressure on HR to help the company hire the right people.

A company’s talent pool is its greatest resource, and certainly its largest investment, so it follows that employees are expected to perform at the highest level. For this to happen, someone needs to champion talent management across the organization. HR leaders are primed to align employee performance with the company’s vision in this way, and those that step up to the task will not only play a larger role in the business’ success but also grow their own profile.   

 It is no longer acceptable for HR leaders to simply play an execution role that follows company strategies; instead they are being asked to truly lead and help define business strategies in the boardroom.  

There is also an expectation that HR can demonstrate the ways in which it is adding value to the business, not just in a support capacity but also contributing to the bottom line in a tangible way. It is no longer acceptable for HR leaders to simply play an execution role that follows company strategies; instead they are being asked to truly lead and help define business strategies in the boardroom.

Championing growth and talent

By taking a strategic approach to talent management the HR department can strike hard in the battle for talent and put the business on course for innovation and growth. Professional services firm PWC is clear about this in its recent research, stating that, “getting talent management right means the business can worry less about talent problems and more about business opportunities.”

However, it can be a struggle to incentivize and keep star performers in pivotal roles. Great employees are usually aware of the value they deliver and want to feel the business is repaying them in kind. In addition to finding and attracting the best talent, HR must make sure that employees remain both professionally challenged and emotionally invested.

 As the champions of talent management in the organization, HR leaders should take it upon themselves to drive these initiatives and ensure employees in every department (and at every level) have the opportunities they need to excel.  

This comes down to a greater focus on nurturing talent. Personalized training that aligns with employee development plans, more transparency with regards to growth opportunities, and greater understanding among managers of their employees’ needs – these are the hallmarks of a  modern HR framework.

As the champions of talent management in the organization, HR leaders should take it upon themselves to drive these initiatives and ensure employees in every department (and at every level) have the opportunities they need to excel.

This doesn’t mean HR needs to develop development strategies and implement themselves. It is more important that they act as ambassadors for change and make a strong case for other lines of business to adapt their approach to the needs of today’s workers. Indeed, a recent report from Accenture suggests talent management capabilities should be embedded across the organization.

Evidence-based change

As with any widespread company initiative better talent management begins in the boardroom. This is the arena where HR must make crystal clear the correlation between effective talent management, worker performance, and the company’s success.

Business leaders want to see straightforward, quantifiable proof of how employee development practices and other talent management approaches contribute to better performance and success. Employee data and talent analytics are essential in this regard.

 Those HR leaders with an understanding of data science, of how to build a strong employer brand, and of how to communicate talent-related strategy to the wider business will emerge as leaders both on their teams and in the boardroom.  

The amount of data companies collect is doubling each year by some accounts, and managing this information is as much the job of HR as it is other departments. Understanding the business’ needs from a skills perspective, succession planning, where needs will arise and where they are lacking, telling trends in the company’s workforce – all these crucial metrics can be found in the company’s employee data if it is properly analysed.

New skills for HR

The instincts to take on a leadership role and take a strategic approach to data lie outside the territory of traditional HR, but the changing needs of the business require a wider skillset. Those HR leaders with an understanding of data science, of how to build a strong employer brand, and of how to communicate talent-related strategy to the wider business will emerge as leaders both on their teams and in the boardroom. 

This requires HR to practice what it preaches. Just as marketing professionals may need courses on using data to build customer profiles, HR team members need access to training and development opportunities so they can adapt to new ways of working. A more skilled HR department will be better-suited to contribute to company strategies and boost their profile in line with the true value they deliver. 

There is a trend in some businesses for HR leaders to take on lofty titles like “Lead HR Strategist” or the more playful “Chief Happiness Officer”, but real change requires more than an ambitious label. It requires a new way of thinking, the willingness to voice the needs of the company’s talent, and the drive to make sure the business is delivering on those expectations so it can attract and retain the best people.


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