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On the Sofa with Søren Bach: The Changing Approach to Talent Management

In this blog, our Senior Consultant, Soren Bach, talks about how businesses can approach talent management differently to prepare for future challenges.

Welcome to our new series of blogs where one of our in-house qualified psychologists will be sharing their insights and opinions on the world of talent acquisition and talent management. This month we are joined by Søren Bach, who has been with SHL for 3 years and is a Senior Consultant in the European Professional Service team. 

Can you tell us a bit about your role at SHL?

My role within SHL is advising and strategizing with global clients on how to identify, develop, and manage the talent they need for the future.  This spans a variety of areas including the delivery of bespoke training, assessment, development, and analysis of psychometric data to provide people insights.  

What is the most interesting part of your job? 

That part I enjoy is speaking with customers and gaining a deep understanding of how they operate, their culture, and their approach to talent so we can help advise them in the best way.  Talent management is something that is constantly evolving so speaking regularly to customers is one way that we ensure we are on top of these trends and have the broad knowledge to advise clients on how best they can succeed in their goals. 

From the organizations you work with, is there a common challenge that you see often?  

Organizations are being bombarded by data—talent data often sits across numerous systems owned by different stakeholders. Most businesses know there’s value in this data but often struggle to know how best to utilize it, what to look at, and where to begin, so it is often left untouched. 

Part of what I do at SHL is to show what types of data businesses could use to manage talent, how to reuse their existing data effectively, as an additional lens to review their talent pool for example, and benchmark industry standards, so they know where they stand out, find hidden gems, future leaders or build a more agile organization—whatever their aim is. 

What is an area of talent management that you feel is often overlooked? 

From a business perspective, the need for contextual knowledge is often underestimated—by that I mean the need to understand behaviors and roles within that specific organization.  

Of course, there are best practices and benchmarks that help provide the right advice, but transparency is key—the better we understand the organization, the better the chance that we can help them. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as saying ‘read this book’ or ‘follow this process' and it will give you all you need! 

This also applies to individuals—understandably many try to keep areas where they are lacking some knowledge hidden from their employer as they may perceive it to be a weakness, but these will invariably come out through the assessments we do. It is important for employees to understand that their organization has invested in maximizing their potential and developing them to have a long-term career within the business, not looking to catch them out if they lack experience in certain areas. 

One of the things I love about our solutions is that we are not tied to one approach. We make an effort to understand the customer we’re working with as much as possible so we can apply our experience to select the right solution and approach, giving us the best chance of success. 

Organizations are being bombarded by data—talent data often sits across numerous systems owned by different stakeholders. Most businesses know there’s value in this data but often struggle to know how best to utilize it, what to look at, and where to begin, so it is often left untouched. 

How do you think candidate behavior has changed over the past year?  

Candidates are a lot more demanding, and employers know that employee experience has gone from something that was a nice-to-have to something with strategic importance. 

Days of just doing border initiatives with no overall strategy are gone and, partly due to the pandemic, the HR function has evolved a lot quicker than expected.  

For SHL, this employee experience has always been a key part of our portfolio and so it is great to see conversations evolving to consider how to improve employee engagement and retention because it is now so important for all businesses to focus on. 

The attrition of new starters is also on the rise, is there anything that organizations can do to help keep newly hired people engaged and more likely to stay long term? 

A lot of organizations are doing talent acquisition well and have seen the benefits, for example considering potential and culture-fit, not just current skillset when hiring. Now they are thinking about how to apply some of those same learnings and processes to their existing talent, not just to aid hiring.  

Data reuse is key—revisiting some of the data collected through the hiring process enables customization of the onboarding process for the individual’s need, not just a generic job function. You can identify areas of development right from day 1 and help new starters get up to speed quicker by focusing on where they need the most help and in a style that is most effective for them, rather than trying to push everyone through the same generic process. 

Our Mobilize solution taps into future needs as it provides both the context (so not just personal preferences and competencies) but also measures if they have had the exposure to solve those challenges. Providing new starters the skills and experience they need in a manner they enjoy not only helps them develop quicker but also makes them more engaged and feel part of the organization. 

Finally, if you had to gaze into your crystal ball, how do you see talent management looking in 10 years’ time? 

I think organizations will build more proactive, data-led processes to help manage, engage, and develop their employees. 
As a simple example, when you do your online shop, your data is analyzed to look at your purchase history and suggest products you may be interested in. A similar approach could apply to managing talent—based on talent data, employees would get feedback to say, ‘we think you’re best suited to this type of role, here is what your career path could look like within our organization’, and even suggestions of a development plan to help them get there. A career path can be more agile and personalized not just a generic fixed path based on the person’s current role. 
Businesses will see talent as something they can build a pipeline for. By having a strategic approach to people and identifying growth areas likely to need resources, teams can develop future leaders and enable succession planning from within which of course is preferable as it is cheaper, those people already know the business and culture, and helps motivate and retain your best employees. 
SHL Mobilize is a multi-award-winning talent management solution to support decision-making across the entire employee lifecycle. It provides a single source of talent data to deliver real-time insights into individuals, teams, and the entire organization.   

Contact us to learn how we can help you succeed! 

headshot soren bach


Søren Bach

Søren supports clients to navigate an ever-changing and volatile business reality. He consults in talent management, leadership, and organizational development. As a business psychologist, he combines his psychological insights with sociological and economical perspectives. Søren has previously been a manager at an advertising agency specialized in the changing workforce. At SHL a key focus for Søren is to help organizations align their talent to business strategy. He specializes in inclusive leadership and has on numerous occasions supported clients to gain a competitive edge by successfully identifying and integrating new talent into the existing workforce.

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