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Developing a talent management philosophy

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Patrick Lew, leader of learning and talent development for APAC and Japan at NetApp, talks about alleviating the talent management stress which people managers face daily.

We know the war for talent is ever present, but what can organisations do to stem the tide or, at the very least, alleviate the talent management stress which people managers face daily?


Some organisations call it staffing, while others might call it talent acquisition. All it boils down to is how you attract talent and get them through your front door. While pay is a huge enticement for most in Asia, what are the additional things that organisations can do to attract talent?

Do people know about your organisation or the brand? It’s easy for job seekers to relate to brands and products that they know and feel comfortable with to go beyond the first step. Companies have spent millions on branding their products and the spin-off effect on recruitment is the power to attract candidates directly. Think about Fortune 500 companies or local MNCs and the power to attract versus a new start-up.

The cost of a bad hire can be tremendous. It’s been estimated by the United States Department of Labour that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the individual’s first-year potential earnings. So what can organisations do to minimise that?

The most commonly used interview methods is the good old panel interview. Some organisations are well-known for their multiple rounds of interviews to select candidates. While that might be suitable in driving a consensus-driven agreement on the right hire, the process might not be economical given the number of hours spent on interviewing.

What can be done to increase the success of a good hire? Nowadays, hiring managers are trained to be proficient in interviewing techniques such as competency based interviews as well as behavioural-based interviews, but the question is do they utilise them properly? To further aid managers in making a better hiring decision, there are online tools and systems to analyse candidate’s responses and predict their fit in certain roles.

A combination of the above would be ideal and organisations have to balance the costs and the outcome they want to achieve.


What kind of experience is the new hire going to have before joining the company, on the day of joining and the first 90 days after joining.

Managers tend to overlook these after the candidate has signed on the dotted line of the contract even though they acknowledge these are critical for the success of the new hire.

Three simple things that a manager can do to speed up the orientation/assimilation process is to settle logistical requirements before joining (getting access card/badge and IT equipment, etc ); arranging introductions to key stakeholders/partners (not just top management, but colleagues whom the new hire will need to interact with frequently when on board); and getting a buddy to guide the new hire for the first 30 days and beyond.

A good beginning is half the battle won.


As the new hire progresses, there will be learnings required to perform adequately on the job. Does the organisation have a learning philosophy? A simple model that has been practised and adopted by many organisations is the 70/20/10. The proportion of learning time spent would be categorised as 70% learning by doing, 20% learning from others and 10% learning from formal training.

Learning by doing can be on-the-job tasks, cross-functional projects, job changes and rotations as well as special assignments. Learning from others can be ongoing feedback and coaching from the manager, mentoring by experienced subject matter experts and working with role models. Learning from formal training could be in the form of instructor-led programmes, e-learning, external conferences and seminars and suggested readings.

Development is like a team sport and the employee needs support. An analogy would be the formula one race. The employee is the driver and charts the direction of the development; the manager is the technical staff/pit crew and supports the employee in their development while the organisation provides the support structure/funding in developing the employee. All three parties need to work together for development to be meaningful.


Pay is a huge component for talent retention. Research by Resource Solutions’ Asia Talent Insights 2014 states that 43% of respondents have indicated income as the most important factor when applying for a job.

It’s obvious organisations need to provide a competitive pay structure to compete and retain. However, if we look beyond the pay factor there are other motivators that would aid in the process of retention.

We have often heard that employees leave managers and not jobs. The employee manager relationship is crucial in employee performance and retention. Managers who do not communicate openly, create the right opportunities and show appreciation for their staff are more likely to face a higher turnover and retention issues.

From time to time, managers need to be reminded that “people are an organisation’s greatest assets”. The re-order of talents can be minimised if they see the relationship with their employee as a partnership rather than a hierarchical relationship between them.

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