Strategic Shifting for Success: Talent Management Strategies for SMEs

January 23, 2017 | Evelyn Chow


Change has become an ironic constant for enterprises throughout the world—including for SMEs. Innovation, especially technological breakthroughs, most often drive change, but economic and political factors influence the business environment as well.

How does this challenge of continuous change affect your SME’s talent management?

“The competition for talent is intense, as is the pressure to innovate and grow. To meet these challenges, we need to invest in people who can bring fresh perspectives based on a wide range of experiences, best practice business processes, and the technology that best enables our people,” according to Raman Singh, Mundipharma president in The Business Times.

In other words, successfully managing each strategic shift requires incorporating the best talent management strategies for SMEs—and those strategies start with leadership from the C-suite.


The leadership challenge

Most savvy executives know that successful corporate leadership starts with a clear corporate vision and mission, and strategic steps for implementation. But in a fluctuating business environment, while the vision and mission may remain essentially unchanged, the strategies for implementation may need to shift in response to changes in your industry.

  • Communicating your enterprise’s vision and mission is significantly easier than keeping your employees in the loop each time you shift strategies and change your short-term priorities. The latter is the key leadership challenge when it comes to talent management in an ever-changing business environment.

Neglecting to keep employees in the loop is risky. Not only will employees engage less with the task of meeting company goals when they are kept in the dark about strategic shifts, they also inadvertently may work at cross purposes to new priorities and may trip over each other’s work assignments in the process.   

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Communication and employee engagement

A study by New York Times’ authors David Maxfield and Joseph Grenny, reported in an Information Age article, outlined the leadership strategies that successfully engage tech employees.

“To attract, engage and retain top talent, the most successful managers ... focus on making tight connections between the work their people do and one or more of the following strategic areas":

  • “Strategic advantage”: Helping employees feel a connection to what makes your enterprise special.
  • “Critical uncertainty”: Demonstrate how employees can assist with an “urgent opportunity.”
  • “Tech edge”: Reveal how your enterprise is edging up on tech breakthroughs.
  • “Careers”: Let employees see the connection between their work and furthering their career.
  • “Social values”: Applaud the effects their work will have on customers and society.
  • “Build rhythm and flow”: Lower the level of workplace pressure by encouraging a work flow that has a rhythm to it.

The last point, building a rhythm and flow, takes on more significance when you consider that fast-paced work places which shift strategically in response to external business pressures often create ambiguous workflows with “overlapping assignments, unclear ownership and changing priorities,” as Maxfield and Grenny report. Dialogue, they advise, is the best leadership approach to help employees thrive in fluid situations—a recipe that spells success for non-tech employees as well.


Stepping outside the old communications gap

Justin Anderson sagely points out in Computer Business Review that “seasoned” members of the C-suite team may find it necessary to step outside their comfort zone to ramp up their dialogue with Millennial employees who thrive on being in the loop and having access to information.



    'Keeping Millennial employees involved builds a team of 
engaged, motivated 
and high-performing employees' 

  • Keeping talented Millennials motivated and engaged is critical to maintaining a high level of excellence in customer service, creating an innovation culture, creating a brand as an employer, and sustaining your enterprise’s success.


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Your brand as an employer

Business experts around the globe warn that the competition for talented employees is tightening. As Millennials become increasingly mobile, your ability to retain your top talent and attract the best new people creates need to build your brand as a top employer to work for. 

The Business Times article offers the following advice from “Best Employer awardees:

“Effective communications are core to aligning employees to organisation values, goals and priorities. Our CEO and senior management actively engage employees through various platforms across the year, including staff briefings, interactive blogs and webcasts.” - Lee Yan Hong, managing director, group human resources, DBS Bank

“Building a strong employer brand requires building a collaborative team-oriented culture that encourages innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, backed by a leadership group that is prepared to empower and enable. And it must also be fun.” - Raman Singh


Case in point... 

Talent management strategies are indeed the backbone of your enterprise’s current success and long-term sustainability. Taking the steps to shift strategically in response to changes in your business environment requires that you lead your employees to engage with your new priorities every step of the way.  

With a successful talent management approach, you will find that your enterprise has built a brand for itself as an outstanding employer, facilitating your ability to attract and retain the talent you require to maintain your competitive edge.

Stay tuned for our next update on the best practices of strategic talent management that SMEs can adopt for results! 


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