Why are future talents invisible? Recently one of my clients posed an interesting question regarding global talent management and succession planning, they asked how I thought they might get higher visibility of talent globally and how they might get leaders to plan succession in a more systematic way? This was a great question from a business that has an established performance management system, and works with employees to create individualized development plans based on the 70/20/10 framework which feeds a robust succession process identifying those employees who are considered to be high performers or high potentials.

There is not one easy answer to the question posed, however I feel it can be answered by understanding the five main themes that influence both global talent visibility and succession planning, visibility of talent, leader involvement in global talent management (GMT), succession planning, cultural diversity, the appraisal process and mindset. Research shows that senior managers with conflicting demands fail to spend enough time thinking about talent, selecting those people that are close physically and psychologically without considering how they can get sight of potential talents further afield. Those without conventional career paths are overlooked as talent as there is an assumption that there is a ‘lack of fit’. A factor affecting the visibility of female potential is their reluctance to self-promote, whilst women prefer to rely on extra high performance and commitment hoping that this will create visibility as talent, men prefer to actively network. Men are much more likely to utilize impression management skills to come to the attention of senior leaders by claiming higher skill or knowledge level and by effectively managing others perceptions of their ability. Much of the research contributing to the field of global talent management cite the level of leadership involvement as cause of failure of talent management practises, many organisations prioritize perceived ‘hard’ processes over ‘soft process’, leaving HR departments to drive talent management practises.

People from the CEO on down consider the word, “succession, taboo”. Those who embrace succession planning can develop talented leaders, and hold line managers accountable for talent management activities, including the “giving up “of talents to other regions and business units. Culture plays a huge role in whether individuals or leaders take an active part in actions that lead to effective global talent management strategies, for example, in China, traditionally succession management plans were made based on ‘guanxi’ i.e. trust built through interpersonal relationships reliance on these relationships superseding any level of ability or competence. High staff turnover in China is problematic some organisations seeing little merit in developing employees knowing there is likelihood that employees will be lured from the organisation with a better offer elsewhere. Collectivist cultures should be taken into consideration within collectivist cultures the focus is on achieving group goals and therefore talent is more likely to be ‘hidden’ within the larger group this differs to individualist cultures where there is a need for recognition for uniqueness as an individual talent. Understanding current culture requires recognition of changes within workforce groups, and concentration on the disparate needs of silents, baby boomers, generation x’s and millennials in making decisions about how they might seek recognition.

Coupled with culture is the growth of a global and talent mindset enabling leaders to communicate, understand and work within different cultures. People don’t change their mindset or behaviour just because someone tells them to, it requires the use of EQ and complex influencing skills to create a streamlined, co-ordinated global talent development function. Current GMT literature appears to focus on the “how” of how to search for talent globally rather than “who and why”? an individual fails to be recognised as talent. Performance appraisals play a large role in whether an individual is selected or recognised, therefore more emphasis placed on this practise could increase the visibility of talent. T The creation of trust in organisational commitment, showcasing the progression of talent, meaningful development plans, performance evaluations/appraisals have shown to have a marked impact on the visibility of talent and succession planning, perhaps this is where future global talent management energy should go?