Podcast: Leadership Amplitude Episode 17

Your organization's talent management strategy is designed to help you acquire, keep and engage your people and resources.

Demystifying Talent Management

Our guests Bev Wise and Ramonda Kyser discuss talent management and why finding new talent, and keeping and motivating your existing talent is essential to accomplishing your business objectives. 


Anna Slaydon: Welcome to Leadership Amplitude. I'm your host, Anna Slaydon, and I'm thrilled to be starting a four-part series on talent management, featuring our guests Bev Wise and Ramonda Kyser. Let's get started by meeting Raymonda and Bev.

So, Ramonda, you've been on the show a couple times now.

Ramonda Kyser: Yes.

Anna Slaydon: So most of our listeners will probably already be familiar. But why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ramonda Kyser: Well, thank you. I'm Ramonda Kyser, been with The BB&T Leadership Institute for ten and a half years. I do executive coaching, team building, leadership workshops, change management, you name it, I do it.

Anna Slaydon: And we have a new guest today, Bev Wise. Welcome, Bev.

Bev Wise: Ah, thank you, Anna.

Anna Slaydon: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Bev Wise: Well, I've only been with The BB&T Leadership Institute about three, maybe three and a half months; joined in November. Actually, I moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania, where I had a fairly lengthy career in human resource management, consulting, leadership consulting and development. Right now I'm working for The BB&T Leadership Institute, running the talent management consulting division.

Anna Slaydon: Wonderful. Well, you've been very valued on the team. We've really enjoyed having you so far, and I'm glad to have you here on the podcast with us. And I think you're going to be sharing—both of you are going to be sharing—a topic that is really important right now in terms of talent management, but not just kind of that buzzword of talent management, but the strategy behind it. Is that what we're going to be talking about today?

Bev Wise: Absolutely.

Ramonda Kyser: All of it.

Anna Slaydon: All of us, all of it.

Bev Wise: Well, we want to demystify it. That's what we're setting out to do today. Because so often industries like ours use buzzwords, and it makes it either confusing or seem unapproachable for companies, smaller businesses, mid-market companies who really don't understand what it means. So basically what—and very simply what—it means is your company's approach to acquiring, keeping, engaging the talent or the people that you need to accomplish your business objectives. Ramonda, anything else that I'm really missing here?

Ramonda Kyser: Just making sure we have the right people in the right seats.

Bev Wise: That's right.

Ramonda Kyser: And that we keep those people and that we create a pipeline for the signing of great talent in our organization's needs as it grows.

Bev Wise: Right. And we think of talent broadly. People say, "Well, why don't you just say 'employees'?" Well, you may use consulting talent. You may use external vendors and resources. It doesn't always have to be employees. Most of our companies take a traditional employment approach. But talent comes from all different avenues, and it's just making sure that you have that; the skills, the experience, and the know-how that you need to accomplish your business goals.

Anna Slaydon: So is this just referring to like the hiring and the firing?

Ramonda Kyser: No.

Bev Wise: No. It's really more than that.

Anna Slaydon: Right.

Ramonda Kyser: In later podcasts, we'll get into like the life cycle of what talent management looks like, but it starts with just attracting, how do you attract the right people to want to come to your company? How do you retain them? How do you develop them? How do you nurture and grow them? Even exiting your talent, whether it is they self-select to exit via retirement, or they move on somewhere else; or exit with downsizing. How do you exit talent and do it in a cohesive manner?

Bev Wise: Absolutely. Most companies have some form of financial strategy. They have financial goals, something they're trying to accomplish. It may be as simple as for the next budget year what they want to achieve as far as revenue growth, and bottom line growth. Most companies have some kind of customer strategy, whether it’s relationship management, or we're going to compete on value, or we're going to compete on costs. They have some form of customer strategy. But the missing piece—and I often call it the three-legged stool: so they have a financial piece, they have a customer piece, but they don't give that proactive thinking to the employee piece. And that's what this is.

Anna Slaydon: So, when I went to apply for my very first job, my mom had to drive me all over town, and I had to get out of the car, and take my little resume in, and introduce myself, and had a little speech, and then hope that they called me back. And so, it seems like at that time I could only really apply for jobs in about a three-mile radius because my mom would lose patience after that.

But now, I think it's so much easier to apply for jobs, and your network is so much broader. You've got these great online options now. And most companies, it seems like everybody's moved to online applications. Tell me about the difference that we've seen over the last few years in talent management as acquisition.

Ramonda Kyser: Well, there wasn't a strategy for talent management or talent acquisition when you were going around with your mom looking for jobs.

Anna Slaydon: Because it was just who walked through the door.

Ramonda Kyser: It was who walked through the door, or who knew who, or maybe a job fair on a campus that was close to that employer.

Bev Wise: Or if an employer had an opening, they advertised it in the newspaper.

Ramonda Kyser: In the paper—in the local paper.

Bev Wise: And that's printable. Exactly, and that's—

Anna Slaydon: Which was in print, not digital, at the time.

Bev Wise: Right, right. And that's how they counted on receiving resumes or walk-in folks like yourself and filling out applications for that particular opening. Fast forward to what we experience today, and companies, first of all, start that are really active in talent management, really start by who are we as an employer? They think about what their employment brand is. 

Ramonda Kyser: They market themselves, and their brand, and their reputation to attract the right person with a set of values that fit their culture.

Bev Wise: Exactly. So that takes them understanding who they are as an employer. And it's not just about the salary and benefits they offer, but what's the environment like to work in? We ought to almost demystify culture when we talk about this, too. It's the way it feels to work here in a particular company. The way decisions are made, the way employees collaborate or work together, do they work independently, do they work interdependently, are we innovative, are we slower to change?

All of those different factors really make up a culture. And understanding that as a company; what your culture is, what it's like to work there, and how you can utilize that to market to perspective talent is really the start of a good talent management strategy.

Ramonda Kyser: Because you want to make sure you've found the right fit. And I would say that our larger organizations have a more savvy approach to talent management than what our middle-market customers may have.

Bev Wise:  Yeah.                          

Ramonda Kyser: They're more proactive, our larger organizations because they have built that process out; versus our middle-markets who are more reactive in finding talent.

Bev Wise: Yeah. And your larger companies have done a lot of work on the marketing side, that customer side, as it relates to their brand. So they understand that proactiveness of getting their brand out there to customers. So all they need to do is kind of shift that and understand what their brand is from an employment perspective and shift it that way. Plus, they're more known.

And again, I won't repeat brand names on the podcast, but when you think of some of your nationally-known brands, they're the folks that have an easier time attracting talent. And our mid-market companies who have grown over the years and don't necessarily enjoy that same brand recognition, they have more trouble in understanding this approach.

Anna Slaydon: You know, as you were talking, I was reflecting on how the marketing and talent can sometimes overlap, thinking about instances over the last few years where an organization had, they made a talent decision. Let's say a large company terminated somebody, their spouse went onto their Facebook page, and all of a sudden they've completely lost control of the narrative, as well as their Facebook, because people were so outraged by the way that they handled that talent decision. So it seems like nowadays, you cannot afford to not have a sound strategy when you approach, just because of the way that we share information these days.

Bev Wise: Well, and you even find a lot of employers who have screening mechanisms out on social media so that they can find things that are being said about them, whether it—

Ramonda Kyser: Safeguard.

Bev Wise: Yeah, right, whether it's by customers or by former employee—former or current employees. Yeah. Yeah. So it's different in that way, too. The other thing our mid-market companies often struggle with is this sophistication of the human resources department. And that's not in any way meant to be a slight for the folks that work in human resources in mid-market companies. But mid-market companies are on a growth trajectory. They are the fastest-growing segment in the United States at that—

Ramonda Kyser: Workforce development.

Bev Wise: Absolutely, job creation.

Ramonda Kyser: Creation. Yes.

Bev Wise:  Of all of it. So, and that's from a small size of ten million in revenue to up to a billion. So that's a wide range there. But those companies often have grown from a smaller place, and where their human resources talent is often administrative in nature, they take care of the compensation, they take care of the benefits, there are a lot of compliance elements with human resources.

So you do need to have very sharp people and kind of minding the Ps and Qs of those compliance areas like compensation and benefits. But they haven't really necessarily put human resources in a strategic position in the C-suite or at that executive table to really look at this proactive way of—

Ramonda Kyser: And to help guide and shape the HR perspective of our middle-market clients. I will say as a senior consultant I see more of our larger clients not having such an issue with talent management because they've been proactive with that strategy. But with our middle-market clients, they've grown exponentially in their business, and so quickly with their customers that unfortunately it's just become forgotten, and then when they need to rev it up, it's, "Uh-oh. What do we do?" And it's more of reactive.

Anna Slaydon: That makes sense, though. Because I imagine if you are going through tremendous growth, the person who maybe was doing the hiring, you were just like a one location little shop is probably your operations manager. As you grow rapidly, then—

Ramonda Kyser: Or a generalist.

Anna Slaydon: A generalist.

Ramonda Kyser: Mm-hmm.

Anna Slaydon: As you grow rapidly, you're having, you're just trying to keep up with the pace of things, instead of coming at it from, "Hey, let's take a step back and strategically approach this."

Bev Wise: Well, and to that point, Ramonda, the other thing that they haven't often developed is the internal development from within function, so that they, as they're growing rapidly, they're looking for somebody who they can hit the ground running, come into the organization, hit the ground running, and they don't necessarily look to their own internal pool of talent and think about developing them into those roles. So they're in that reactive hiring mode, and their own internal employees may be getting passed over for opportunities that would help to engage them more for that employer.

One other thing that we shouldn't forget about, either, is because of that reactive nature, because of the rapid growth and the reactive nature of hiring from outside, they also haven't developed that infrastructure or those relationships with local educational institutions where they could get interns and put them in the pipeline for future talent.

Ramonda Kyser: Apprenticeships.

Bev Wise: Apprenticeships, exactly. Trade associations, they haven't developed those proactive relationships so that those schools or trade associations or those types of institutions that may be able to provide them a supply of talent don't know about them.

Ramonda Kyser: It's almost like you don't know what you don't know, which is kind of where we come in. We help offer a strategy and some perspectives, let you see where your opportunities are with talent management and help you strategically and tactically attack it.

Anna Slaydon: I hope you're enjoying our four-part series on demystifying talent management with Bev Wise and Ramonda Kyser from The BB&T Leadership Institute. We're going to continue to have a great series over the next three episodes, ending with part four; where I will ask some questions about talent management that I've always wondered about to see if they can demystify the topic, or if maybe I can stump them.

Now, if you have questions about talent management that you would like answered, please feel free to e-mail us at leadershipinstitute@BBandT.com. That's leadershipinstitute@BBandT.com. We'd love to hear from you, and we'll make sure to get you connected with Bev or Ramonda to get the answers you're looking for. For show notes, or for additional information, please visit us at BBTLeadershipInstitute.com. Leadership Amplitude is a podcast production of The BB&T Leadership Institute, all rights reserved.

[End of Audio]

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