Business leaders’ 2014 priorities

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Competition is driving a fierce battle between businesses to come out tops and new research shows that globally CEO’s are adopting a worker-centric approach this year to maximise future growth.

Research from The Conference Board and Chartered Management Institute found the number one priority of business leaders worldwide is a reshaping of workplace culture, with a primary focus on employee engagement and better management, to improve competitiveness, win new customers and raise productivity.

The CEO Challenge 2014, surveys CEOs, presidents, and chairmen from more than 1,000 companies around the world, identifies and ranks the most pressing challenges businesses are facing. The results showed that worldwide, Human Capital — how best to develop, engage, manage, and retain talent — is the leading challenge.

And when it comes to talent management the report shows CEO’s are prioritising the creation of a strong internal pipeline rather than recruiting externally.

Nine out of the top 10 Human Capital strategies selected globally by business leaders are focused on current employees, including providing training and development, raising employee engagement and increasing efforts to retain critical talent. The findings also emphasise the importance of management performance, with “improving leadership development programmes” now ranked 5th globally, rising from 10th last year.

Business leaders were also asked to identify the leadership attributes most critical to future success. Integrity was rated number one globally while the other top five most important leadership attributes were leading change, managing complexity, an entrepreneurial mind-set and the ability to retain and develop talent.

Rebecca Ray, Senior Vice President, Human Capital at The Conference Board, and a co-author of the report, stated that although particular strategies vary from region to region, business leaders worldwide are working  to optimise their greatest resource—their employees and those who will lead them.

“This emphasis on people-related issues makes perfect sense in a still-uncertain economy,” she said.

“Building a culture that supports engagement, employee training, leadership development, and high performance is something companies can control, and is making the difference between growing market share and simply surviving in 2014. Moreover, if the focus of individual companies is sustained, Human Capital may well be the engine that revives economic growth.”

Lynne Miller, Director Human Capital Practice, Kerridge & Partners, told HRM Online that she too has noticed within the last 12 to 18 months the focus on capability, retaining and attracting people have gone up the list on what’s important.

And when it comes to finding and retaining talent and developing leadership CEOs are focusing not only on what a person offers in terms of the functional/technical skills but also more and more in how they do it, Miller said.

“When you actually nail down what leadership is its less about what you do its more about how you do it. And so therefore chief executives are more focused… at looking at [people’s] behaviours and their impacts and less on what are you doing and how are you going to get delivery of your KPIs,” she explained. “The delivery of your KPIs is about your performance management piece, but from a leadership perspective it is are you leaving behind you scorched earth or fertile ground? And it’s the how i.e. you’re behaviours, you’re overall impact that determines  whether you leave behind you’re scorched earth or you’re fertile ground that determines the likelihood of the success of the next project.”

Miller added the war for talent has become the “new normal” and it could be time for it to cease being a standout priority to being business as usual.

“It should be so much of a normal thing that every single CEO should be focusing on it because it’s not going to go away,” she said.

Related articles:
Grab on tight to your talent
10 talent strategies for 2014
Why can’t Kiwi businesses find the talent they need?

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