I have recently been involved in the project “Talent Management in SMEs” which was carried out in different areas of Spain. The project was, inevitably, accompanied by the current climate of uncertainty which is forcing companies to really get the most out of their staff’s talents and is driving employees to give the best of themselves, to think proactively, and to work as a team.

Although the project was a lot of work, it was also extremely rewarding. For the consulting firms involved -InnoPersonas (where I work) and Gestiona- it was really motivating to be able to have an impact on the human resources policies of the small- and medium-sized companies who took part in the project. We met with people who were enthusiastic and great to be around, with a real desire to switch over to new ways of doing things, and implement more flexible and open policies. A group of true professionals!

The project aimed to bring about a greater degree of professionalism in management practices, reinforce leadership, and kickstart innovation. It comprised the following phases:

  1. An analysis of the key factors in the SMEs related to talent management (all the staff took part in this). In order to carry out this analysis, we looked at various aspects of innovation and the development of talent, such as: diversity, co-creation, collaboration and horizontal structures, participation, transparency, self-management, freedom, recognition in the workplace, and an orientation to innovation. We also considered policies to attract and develop talent, commitment to the job and personal motivation. We used a questionnaire consisting of 25 questions, with a choice of answers which didn’t allow respondents to sit on the fence. The combined results of the 18 companies which took part in the project were as follows (marks out of 10):
    Factors which favour talent: leadership (6.81), climate (6.91), company culture (6.93), strategy/innovation (6.88).
    Structural factors relating to talent: remuneration (5.14) and overall organization/interdepartmental organization (5.74).
  2. Talent management workshops, identification of opportunities for innovation with the board of directors, and a follow-up analysis of the feasibility of implementing these opportunities. A summary of the best practices which were identified in the project was communicated to the SMEs. We looked at eminently practical concerns, such as: the “why” of talent management, an analysis of the diversity present in teams, an overall analysis of the role of talent in the business world: I want/I can/action; facilitating factors, obstacles and catalysts for talent; individual and collective feelings, and the nature of the talent currently available in the companies; and an overall diagnosis of each company, etc. We also worked on having a vision of the future, the appropriate behaviour to harness talent, progressing from having talented individuals to having talented teams, etc. All the workshops were very much hands-on and highly practical.
  3. We supported the whole process through counselling sessions. The information obtained from the questionnaires and workshops enabled us to shape these sessions. (There were three sessions in all, most of the time broken down into one face-to-face session and two over the phone.) The sessions focused on help which was tailor-made to the needs of each person in order to bolster a change in their habits, consolidate what had been learnt in the workshops, and determine a future plan of action.

As part of the project we developed a 2.0 collaborative platform focused on sharing the best practices. All the users could write their own blog and had their own inbox to receive messages. They also had their own personal profile, and the chance to take part in online forums and discussions, set up their own debates, and upload and manage documents and their own social network. Throughout the project InnoPersonas kept the platform fresh and lively by posting articles and a wide range of information about talent management.
Conclusions
– It is not easy for the SMEs who took part in the project to introduce major changes in their organizational structure or implement significant improvements in their human resources policies: most of the companies we worked with are stretched to the limit and simply do not have the time to implement far-ranging changes. When we examined the viability of introducing talent management policies in SMEs, we realised that this objective was too ambitious; before contemplating the implementation of such policies, SMEs need to have developed a genuine 2.0 human resources environment. In short, as a necessary first step SMEs need to improve their overall human resource policies and adapt them to the needs of the company.
– In view of the current low level of job rotation in the marketplace, it is almost impossible to ascertain whether the companies who took part in the project are retaining staff because of improvements brought about by the project, or merely because of the general (un)employment situation.
– Communication is the standout area for improvement in all the SMEs who took part in the project; also very high on the list of “could be better” is the management of conflicts between departments, and innovation in processes, systems and structures.
– The areas where employees feel most satisfied are the flexibility given to them, the atmosphere at work, and the equality of opportunities which they enjoy.

InnoPersonas

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