11 December 2014

Differing executions of talent management in Asia

Source: ECN.
Talent management has increasingly become a strategic priority for business leaders fighting for managerial talent across Asia. 

A survey of the 
Economist Corporate Network's (ECN's) 550 member companies across Asia has found that 95% of CEO respondents feel they are actively involved in talent management. However, the nature of their role and the extent of their involvement varies widely.

Aligned for Success? Strategy, talent management and the role of the CEO in Asia reveals that the involvement of CEOs in human capital issues centres most heavily on strategic and planning activities, such as assessing the future shape of their workforce needs, and organisational design. Many CEOs admit to doing less about the developmental aspects of talent management such as nurturing key skills, training programmes and mentoring future leaders.

Highlights from the report include:

· A high proportion (90%) of respondents are raising their investment in internal talent development, but 65% indicate that they have no clear metrics in place to measure the benefit gained from training programmes.

· CEOs identify leadership, strategic thinking and an ability to manage across cultures as the top three skills missing among their current management bench.

· While nearly all CEOs claim to be the leading voice for, and closely involved with, talent management, most currently devote less than 20% of their time to talent-related issues. At the same time, 43% feel they should be giving more time to developing talent in their companies.

· CEOs are most closely involved with the planning aspect of talent management with fewer than half closely involved in actually developing talent.

· Asia-based CEOs indicate that their HR heads are more closely involved in strategy development than their counterparts in Europe and North America.

· 89% of respondents claim that their talent management strategy is informed by and aligned with their core business strategy.

Justin Wood, Director of the Economist Corporate Network in South-east Asia, said: “Competition for talent is intensifying in many parts of Asia. In Southeast Asia, for example, the value of foreign direct investment inflows reached record levels in 2013, overtaking China. These foreign firms are all looking for management talent to drive their investments. At the same time, local firms in Southeast Asia are also growing quickly and investing internationally, both across the ASEAN region, as well as further afield. This makes the battle for top talent especially intense.

“CEOs regularly claim that people are the number one priority at their firms. Yet all too often a gap exists between their rhetoric and the reality. This is usually because of a disconnect between the CEO’s strategic vision and the implementation by HR leads. This new report reveals how business leaders in the region are now looking to bridge this gap by adopting a more strategic approach to talent management, aligned with their core business strategies.”

Read the Southeast Asian edition of the report here

*To explore the challenges of securing and developing the right people with the right capabilities, skills and mindset for business leaders in Asia, the ECN surveyed CEO clients about their role in talent management and the extent to which talent management is aligned with core business strategy. Findings of the regional survey were discussed with CEO-level focus groups in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore and these insights were used to help inform the final report.