How are organisations mapping talent in the era of AI?

Technology plays a huge role, whether in terms of mapping talent or training HR managers to map talent. However, the human touch cannot be written off.

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Talent mapping in a large organisation with thousands of employees is almost like hunting for a needle in a haystack. To map the right talent with a certain skill or to identify an adaptable person to fit the new role is probably one of the biggest challenges for the HR and talent executives of large organisations. Any mistake may cost a lot for the upcoming assignments or functions.

Companies will have to map their talent requirements with futuristic competencies —  empathy, resilience, learning agility, growth and design thinking mindset, critical thinking, tolerance to ambiguity and creativity — which can develop economic value for the enterprise.

Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Company

Training

The hiring managers require thorough training too. Alkem Laboratories runs a skill-development programme for its hiring managers to fulfil this requirement. Rajorshi Ganguly, president and global HR head of Alkem Laboratories, says, “We believe that with time and changing demands, every function needs to undergo certain changes. Therefore, Alkem undertakes a special learning programme for hiring managers that does much more than train them on interviewing people. We also have a special programme called ‘Alaap’, designed to initiate talent conversations with people belonging to lower levels of the hierarchy, who are doing a great job at their level. The evaluation of the conversation helps us map the talent for further process. We also have an internal body, which keeps track of each and every talent and evaluates them before promotion.”

In large organisations today, AI tools may be highly in use for talent mapping. However, complete dependence is not necessary. One spreadsheet reflecting the talent assessment of the employees is enough to judge the skills and performance of the people being mapped.

Ashish Pinto, senior HR professional

Evaluation

Ganguly goes on to share, “We believe in ‘stay interviews’ in which we talk to the employees in order to evaluate their plans of staying on and growing in the Company. This evaluation is necessary to know how to distribute the assignments according to the business needs and maintain productivity.”

During the 10-month crisis period, there have been many functional swaps with a major shift of the work culture to a hybrid one. The crisis demanded a rapid change in the scenario to ensure smooth running of the business. Many people including some of the senior leaders were not equipped with the right technology to initiate corporate affairs under such circumstances. On the other hand, younger talents with more orientation towards technology had a smooth running.

With more of digitisation, large organisations moved their HR department to artificial intelligence (AI) platforms for some of the critical functions including performance assessment, hiring and talent mapping. However, the role of HR goes beyond hiring and managing attendance. Human resources and talent managers are the ones who make the leaders in a company. However, selecting the competent candidate out of a large number of available options is a bigger challenge than skilling a competent person. This is where the crucial role of talent mapping comes into action.

At Alkem, we initiate talent conversations with people who are doing a great job at the lower levels of the hierarchy. The evaluation of these conversations helps us map the talent for further process.

Rajorshi Ganguly, president and global HR head, Alkem Laboratories

Technology and AI

Rajendra Mehta, president and CHRO, Welspun India, says, “Large organisations look at key people and map talents through a lined process in which the leaders receive data from the reporting managers in order to process the further actions desired. For such activities, people take help of technology and AI. Databases reflecting the performance matrix are maintained.” Talking about the talent mapping process at Welspun, Mehta explains, “Welspun has its own process of talent conversation. It involves the conversation between a certain set of people belonging to a certain function and the HR team and other leaders. Discussions on their plans regarding their stay in the company are initiated, on the basis of which further action is taken. In case the need is felt, grooming is also initiated.”

Due to the increased dependence on technology to manage a large number of employees, some functions of the HR and the talent management team have automatically shifted to AI. Elaborating on this, Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman Company, says, “We need to leverage the technology ecosystem and interconnectedness to drive distributed and dynamic capability and talent management. This creates a future-ready networked organisation. Companies will have to map their talent requirements with futuristic competencies — such as empathy, resilience, learning agility, growth and design thinking mindset, critical thinking, tolerance to ambiguity and creativity — which can develop economic value for the enterprise.”

At Welspun, we hold conversations between a certain set of people belonging to a certain function and the HR team and other leaders. We discuss their plans regarding their stay in the company, on the basis of which further action is taken. In case the need is felt, grooming is also initiated. 

Rajendra Mehta, president and CHRO, Welspun India

When the crisis struck suddenly, people leaders had no idea how to shift the whole workforce to their homes overnight. It took them considerable time to undertake the whole process, which taught all the leaders a lesson in the significance of future readiness.

However, given the diversity of talent, the process of mapping should not and cannot be generalised. Beyond doubt, like other processes, the process of talent mapping also becomes primitive after a certain period and demands upgradation. “The future of talent management will be less about extracting performance from organised few, and more about curating contribution from limitless many. The focus of talent managers will be on discovering the current talent recipe, diagnosing the talent risk and opportunities, defining the talent culture, and finally building the future talent hypothesis,” enunciates Das.

However, every subject is backed by two alternative views. Ashish Pinto, senior HR professional, is of the view that the time for complete dependence on technology has yet to come. He believes, “In large organisations today, AI tools may be highly in use when it comes to talent mapping. However, complete dependence is not necessary. One spreadsheet reflecting the talent assessment of the employees is enough to judge the skills and performance of the people being mapped. For external mapping, which includes hiring, however, support of AI tools may be required to shortlist resumes according to the needs. But, even today, certain functions, such as talent management demand to be more human than virtual.”

Internal vs external

Commenting on the factors driving talent mapping, Pinto says, “Talent mapping depends on the future business needs of the company indulging in it. Even for new employees with years of experience, it takes time to absorb the work culture and function. Therefore, the time period for absorbing the same gets nullified at the company’s end. Nowadays, therefore, companies prefer mapping talent from the existing workforce, who are already aware of the company culture. For this purpose, coaching and mentoring are undertaken.” Explaining the generic process of talent mapping he says, “Product discussions are initiated and the performance matrix is sought from the reporting managers.”

Even though reliance on technology for certain functions is the need of the hour, there are still some areas, which require human interference. Therefore, while talent mapping may still be executed through technical tools, talent placement and grooming new assignments require human interference.

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