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FASTNET FIRST-HAND: Strategic Talent Management - Looking Back


Article by Jennifer O'Brien

Over a series of articles, I have explored and shared the crux of my studies on the concept of Strategic Talent Management, deciphering the literature, exploring the concept with established Senior Industry professionals and ultimately exploring five major themes recurrently appearing throughout literature and my research. My articles and studies additionally illustrate how these themes interlink and are connected to the overall Strategic Talent Management concept.

The purpose of my thesis was to explore the extent to which Strategic Talent Management is understood and properly utilised in the Life Sciences sector in Ireland. This purpose was fulfilled by gaining extensive insights from academic and industry perspectives.

The study established that although the elements of a Talent Management strategy are being used as organisational tools, these tools may not be viewed strategically, thus the overall strategic benefit to the organisation is not gained. Talent Management needs to become part of the everyday life of organisations in the Life Science sector in Ireland going forward, to increase engagement, improve organisational performance and counteract the war for talent. Without the ability to see the linkages between all elements of a dexterous Talent Management Strategy, it is impossible to understand why a Talent Management strategy is needed, or to adopt such a strategy. This has a significant negative impact on the ability of organisations in the Life Science sector in Ireland to strategically attract and, ultimately, retain highly skilled STEM individuals, during a time of unparalleled talent shortages.

Additionally, it became apparent that HR professionals in the Life Science sector in Ireland have a substantial lack of confidence in the abilities of their Line Managers to deploy a Talent Management strategy and that robust processes to support the effective deployment of a Talent Management strategy are not in place. Throughout the study, it materialises, at multiple stages, that HR simply lacks confidence in the abilities of their Line Managers to attract, manage, develop, engage and retain their talent in a strategic way. In a marketplace where the war for talent is ongoing, it is detrimental to an organisation to employ Line Managers who cannot successfully deploy a Talent Management strategy and therefore not contribute toward organisational excellence. This too impacts the credibility of the Line Manager. Similarly, not having the processes in place to support the deployment of a talent-focused strategy is similarly detrimental to the ability of these organisations to achieve organisational excellence. HR has a strong part to play in the education and development of their Line Managers, and ensuring the supporting processes are in place, to resolve this issue. This development will also have a significant positive impact on increasing the credibility of Line Management both internally and externally, ultimately leading to a sustained competitive advantage for the organisation.

Finally, a sense of overconfidence in the reputation of the Life Science sector in Ireland becomes clear throughout the study. From the analysis of primary research, the confidence of the longer established players in the sector is noted, more so than organisations that have more recently established operations in Ireland. This overconfidence stems from the traditional nature of the Life Science sector and the historic view of this sector as an employer of choice. Additionally, this overconfidence has a perceived impact on complacency, with the majority of organisations interviewed not engaging in certain Talent Management activities, such as branding, as they believe they do not have to. This overconfidence is predicted to have a negative impact as the war for talent strengthens, with these organisations not prepared for the change that is afoot. HR need to drive this change to shift this perspective and to allow for organisations to be market leaders in Talent Management ahead of their competitors.

Essentially, HR professionals, and Line Managers alike, in the Life Science sector in Ireland are missing significant pieces of the Talent Management puzzle therefore creating unforeseen issues for the future in terms of talent attraction, management, development, engagement and retention. Action is needed now to counteract this disparity to allow these organisations to remain as contenders in the Irish employment market as the war for talent strengthens and the shortage of talent is unrelenting. Strategic Talent Management should be the way of life for organisations in the Life Science sector in Ireland going forward and will result in a more engaged and productive workforce with significantly higher retention rates. Ultimately this will aid these organisations in achieving organisational excellence and fostering their desired culture. The onus is now on the Life Science sector in Ireland to adapt.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my series of articles over the last while. If you have any questions or would like to reach out to me to discuss any of my research or findings in more detail, I would love to hear from you. 


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