Building capabilities: talent and diversity management

As debate about the role of relocation in building organisational capability, developing talent and fostering diversity continues, Dr Sue Shortland examines the latest thinking.

Talent development and diversity management
There has been considerable debate over the role of relocation in building organisational capability, developing talent and fostering diversity. Working in a different part of the organisation domestically provides a wider range of experiences and organisational viewpoints than remaining in one single work environment. Working abroad, especially through living and working in another country develops cross–cultural competencies typically required for global leadership positions. The CIPD, reporting on the impact of Brexit on HR professionals, has stressed that their key focus in the short, medium and long term is to build workforce capabilities. The development of talent and the fostering of diversity are both identified as being vital to UK business as it strives to compete in the fast-changing global environment.The CIPD suggests that talent consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organisational performance, either through their immediate contribution or in the longer term by demonstrating the highest levels of potential. Capabilities can be found at all levels in an organisation; capability development therefore also needs to be considered with an all–encompassing focus.However, talent management refers to the systematic attraction, identification, deployment, development, engagement and retention of those people who are of particular value to an organisation. 'Value' might refer to either their high potential or their capability to fulfil business–critical roles.Capability development and the management of talent are crucial to people management strategies because they act to improve employee engagement and commitment, encourage high performance, and improve retention. Rare talent that is difficult to imitate is particularly crucial to organisational success, as it acts as a differentiator. Hence, identifying, recruiting, selecting, deploying and developing talent globally are a key part of the HR and global mobility functions’ remits.

A strategic approach to capability building

Academic literature has suggested that talent management approaches are not always strategic. In essence, organisations do not always take account of the external environment in which their business operates. To be strategic, investment in talent must be selective; organisations need to decide whether to invest in one talent pool over another.Capability building must achieve both external and internal fit. To develop organisational capability through the management and development of talent pools, HR and global mobility professionals must consider a number of interrelated issues. These include:
  • Understanding the political, economic, social and legal infrastructures which impact on capability building and the flow of talent
  • Developing relationships with universities to attract and employ future graduate talent
  • Using global technology to create career-path databases from pools of talent
  • Using crossculturally competent recruiters and selectors across world geographies
  • Promoting employee engagement, branding and global diversity
  • Managing preferred partners and suppliers globally, monitoring for quality and cost effectiveness
It is also crucial to focus on organisational strategy and culture and ensure that the capability building process will deliver the strategic objectives required whilst also reflecting the organisation’s values, purpose and underpinning philosophy. In addition, capability building must align with other HR policy and practice such that the management and development of talent is supported internally by other relevant policy and its implementation.Consideration must be given to the capabilities of management and the workforce, to ensure there is the capacity for any initiatives undertaken to deliver desired results, so that engagement can be maintained. The global mobility function can expect to consider the following issues when looking at international talent management, working alongside HR professionals:
  • Undertaking detailed communications with all managers in looking for employees who have the potential to take another career step, which could be facilitated via mobility
  • Discussing leadership potential with top executives to help identify talent who can benefit most from international assignments, as part of their career progression through the talent pipeline
  • Considering a wider organisational focus to identify skills shortages and potential skills flexibility, taking actions as necessary to improve functional, workforce level and professional flexibility and how the transitions between these can be facilitated
  • Widening diversity so as to harness different ideas and ways of enacting organisational objectives to increase competitiveness
Global mobility professionals’ roles are forecast to become more strategic as Brexit slowly takes shape. At this stage, while the actual outcome of Brexit implementation remains unknown, organisational focus must concentrate on planning for potential scenarios whilst continuing to build capability, foster diversity and raise organisational performance.The mobility of personnel is, without doubt, a key element of Brexit, and thus global mobility professionals have a key role to play not only in strategy formulation but also in building workforce capability and managing talent internationally. This also provides them with the opportunity to grow their own capabilities and thereby enhance long-term organisational ability to operate on an increasingly global stage.
Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.For information on sponsorship opportunities, call Fiona Murchie, managing editor, on +44 (0)1892 891334, or email A range of aligned products and resources will be available from the new Relocate Global e-commerce store, coming later this year.

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