The End of Talent Management

The End of Talent Management

How can you attract, manage and retain talent in a modern organisation? Are the employers still the ones to decide, the ones in charge, the powerful puppeteers coordinating their talented staff top-­‐down? Or are the terms we are using already misleading us?

All  those  questions  and  many  more  were  running  through  my  mind  when  my  co-­‐founder Anna and I started to develop Tandemploy in 2013. We were — and still are — sure that in order to create a life-­‐friendly economy we have to rethink our ideas of talent attraction, talent management and talent retention. And in many cases we have to start by rethinking the terms we are using. While ’talent attraction‘ is still a reasonably okay term, ’talent management‘ and ’talent retention‘ clearly belong to the ’old‘ working world where the employer is the one to decide – and impose ’top-­‐down‘ the direction of choice.

When we founded three years ago, our aim was to revolutionize the whole talent attraction process by helping people and companies to realize job-­‐sharing models. We were convinced that by offering this flexible working model, companies would be able to enlarge their target group — by no longer ignoring half of our society, i.e. all those who do not want to or simply cannot work in the classic (and  totally  inflexible)  full-­‐time  model:  young  parents,  the  elderly,  people  with  chronic diseases, disabled people, freelancers, those doing time-­‐consuming voluntary work, students… The list is long.


It  turned  out  that  we  were  on  to  something.  We  launched  a  platform  to  connect  people interested in job sharing with suitable ‘tandem’ partners and flexible companies, and the success stories very soon started to come in.

On, people can find suitable tandem partners to share a job with -­‐ and meet companies that are open towards job sharing. After answering 22 short questions, users automatically receive suggestions for potential job sharing partners, based on a matching algorithm which -­‐ besides some ’hard facts‘ -­‐ mainly covers ’soft facts and skills‘ which are even more important in the context of close team work. While it is essential in some respects to have common goals and ideas, the algorithm also brings together users who are diverse and complementary in their competencies and strengths.

Even  our  earliest  business  customers  received  applications  from  candidates  that  they would have never received through conventional channels or typical full-­‐time job postings. The people registering on our platform and applying as ’super-­‐tandems‘ were  highly  qualified  and  proactive,  the  sort  of  talented  people  that  take  responsibility for their own lives, choices and happiness. They were — and still are — the kind of person every CEO wants to have on his or her team.

All you need to offer these individuals is time, flexibility and trust. The time for all the other aspects of their lives that they are passionate about. The flexibility to make work fit into their lives and not the other way around. And the trust that they will be able  to  organize  their  job-­‐sharing  constellation  themselves.  With  their  tandem  partner. And without being managed.

Once  our  platform  was  up  and  running  and  being  used  by  more  and  more  people  and companies, we decided to go one step further. We wanted to not only make job seekers happier, but also create something for those already working in companies who  are  looking  for  more  flexible  work  options.  Empowering  employees  to  find  tandem partners within their organization and organize flexible working models at certain  stages  of  their  lives  definitely  appeared  to  be  a  win-­‐win-­‐concept  for  both  individuals and companies.

Why not changing the way companies are ’managing‘ their talented employees by giving  them  the  power  to  manage  themselves?  And  why  not  give  individuals  maximum freedom and flexibility instead of always trying to find new ways to retain them or ’bond‘ with them? The best relationships in life, as we all know, are the ones where  both  partners  allow  each  other  the  freedom  they  need.  To  tie  somebody  down might work for a short period, but it will never end in a sustainable or satisfying partnership.

In  a  business  context,  the  main  question  must  be:  How  can  you  motivate  your  employees to stay with you and your company, to spend a considerable part of their lives working towards your goals? Don’t your goals have to match theirs in order to achieve  this  kind  of  commitment?  And  shouldn’t  the  work  conditions  you  are  offering reflect their lives?

We remain convinced (and numerous facts & figures prove us right) that when you already  have  the  talented  employees  you  want,  you  simply  have  to  give  them  the  room to make work fit with their lives. You must offer them the space to announce their  needs  without  fear  and  empower  them  to  find  solutions  (within  your  company!) by themselves.

Some facts that show the benefits of job sharing:
— 87% of respondents said that the ability to job share meant the difference between staying with a company and leaving.
— 67% of the job sharers surveyed held team management and leadership roles.
— 71% of job sharers who tried to gain promotion were successful
— 30% enhanced productivity can be gained through two people job sharing
(The Job Share Project, 2011)

As  a  logical  consequence  from  our  first  product  (the  job  sharing  platform  open  to  everybody interested) we have started within the last year to develop a company-­‐internal solution – giving employees exactly the room they need to find flexible working  solutions  on  their  own.  While  our  open  platform  is  still  focused  on  job  sharing, our internal tool was designed to enable employees to organize all kinds of flexible  working  models  within  the  company,  such  as  job  sharing,  job  rotation  or  projects. Whereas the public platform was developed to change the ‘talent attraction‘  game,  our  software  as  a  service  now helps companies to make their staff happier  by  giving  them  more  trust,  power  and, most importantly, flexibility. Most notably,  our  software  is  used  by  the individuals themselves -­‐ not by a manager or the HR department.

flex:workz offers employees of one company a closed cloud-­‐based room to organize flexible working models by themselves. The staff uses this internal and discrete community to connect with colleagues for job sharing, job rotation, projects or mentoring constellations.

The  software  can  be  used  in  any  country  worldwide,  as  it  is  easily  translated  and  adapted to individual companies’ needs and corporate design. Organisations from Sweden to Australia have already announced their interest.

We  believe  that  new  times  need  new  concepts.  New  words  sometimes.  And  the  courage to rethink and get over old concepts. As a leader of any kind of team you might  like  to  consider  these  simple  steps  to  give  your  employees  the  talent  management they deserve:

  • When  interviewing  a  potential  new  hire,  ask  him/her  about  his/her  perfect  weekly working hours -­‐ and try to realize exactly that!
  • Empower your team members to experiment with different work styles and give them the freedom to implement those that work best for them
  • If  you  have  agreed  to  an  employee  only  working  80%,  don’t  give  him/her workloads that he/she can’t handle in the available time -­‐ or propose to find a tandem partner instead!
  • Start to say “goodbye” to the classic idea of managing your employees top-­‐down. Say “hello” to a bottom-­‐up approach and empower people to manage their  tasks  -­‐  and  ways  of  working  -­‐  on  their  own.  After  a  while,  they  will  approach you with solutions instead of problems.

The end of classic talent management has come.

This post is part of a talent project led by the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN, founded by UnLtd) and supported by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. The project aims to shed light on challenges and solutions related to the attraction, development, and retention of talent within entrepreneur support organizations.

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Jana Tepe and Anna KaiserJana Tepe and Anna Kaiser are job sharing CEOs of Tandemploy, a Berlin-based startup developing HR technology for job sharing and flexible working models. Coming from an HR background, Jana knew the challenge to find a job that really fits your life. Therefore, they design solutions which support people and companies to create a better future of work – TODAY.    

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Jana Tepe and Anna Kaiser




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