What Is Talent Management, Really?

Recruitment, hiring and retention strategies need to change with the times.

By Jeffrey Davenport

Horseshoe magnet attracting new talents over white background, 3d conceptual image for illustration of talent acquisition strategy or recruitment.“Talent management” is a key buzzword in credit union land today, but do we truly understand what talent management means to our credit unions? Is it retaining the best employees? Is it finding the best potential employees? Is it effectively hiring the best employees? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes.” The trouble is, we may be thinking about what defines the “best employees” in an outdated way. We may be thinking solely about banking or retail experience when we navigate these waters. We need to add to our wish list “employees who think outside of the traditional financial services box and help us change.”

How will you recruit and hire employees who break out of the traditional mold? Do you, like many credit unions, place ads asking for banking or financial services experience? Are you looking for applicants who are very technical or applicants who have people skills? I’ve always believed that you can teach the basics of financial services in most areas, but you can’t teach personality.

Also, does recruiting start when you have an open position or is it part of your strategic initiatives to build your bench of talent for the future? Asking your high performers to help recruit can be effective. In most cases, talented people are interacting with other talented people. Leverage them to bring in potential employees to start creating a deeper file for future talent.

Credit union leaders tend to be quick to attend local home shows, auto shows and chamber of commerce events, but did you attend the last job fair at the local college? I know this was never on my radar screen until it was too late. Sometimes recruiting is as simple as being impressed with a cashier or clerk at a local retail store and having the conversation with them.

When you hire, do you place an ad then run through 200 applications to arrive at maybe five or six good ones? Once they are hired, do you bring them in and spend more time teaching them about policies and procedures, or do you discuss the philosophy of credit unions and how we have impacted the communities we serve? If we are ineffective in hiring, it makes effective talent management that much tougher.

To adopt a truly useful talent management approach, your retention strategy needs to be different as well. You’ll most likely need to shift from the days of promoting from within. Don’t get me wrong, there are very loyal, hardworking, dedicated employees in credit unions today. But many times they are not the right employees to ensure the successful future of the organization in today’s changing marketplace.

Today your credit union’s retention strategy shouldn’t just be promotions based on tenure and financial experience. Instead, it also needs to reward, challenge and promote your creative, out-of-the-box-thinking, entrepreneurial employees. Such employees can play a critical role in the future of your credit union—and of the movement.

Talent management is much more than a buzz term. It has to be a major part of a credit union’s strategic plan. We need to take a page from the playbook of many fintech and other retail companies who are truly hiring for talent. Banking experience is important from a credibility and confidence standpoint for our members, but we also need solid, creative thinkers who have great people skills as well. Such employees can effectively tell the credit union story. Good luck!!

Jeffrey Davenport has been involved in the financial services industry for 29 years, serving in various executive and leadership capacities during that time, including leading two different credit unions. He is currently a consultant and an adjunct professor. 

CUES President/CEO John Pembroke is committed to developing talent in the CU industry. Read more about how developing people can lead to solid ROI in this column.

CUES understands busy professionals are interested in career advancement, but have busy schedules. That’s why we offer CUES Elite Access – virtual classroom, an elite online educational opportunity all about accessibility. Each class has pre-work and in-between segment work as well as two, 60-minute live-taught virtual classroom sessions in a two-week period.

Hear Sheri Nasim, CEO and leadership consultant; and Tony Baron, co-founder and scholar in residence, Center for Executive Excellence, Inc., present “Re:Imagine Leadership” at Execu/Summit, slated for March 5-10 in Snowmass Village, Colo.

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