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Back to Basics in Talent Management: Simplify to Amplify?

A ChapmanCG Global HR Leaders Forum in Zurich

Hosted by: Swiss Re

ChapmanCG recently hosted a gathering of HR leaders from 15 companies in Zurich to discuss the impact of organisational changes on talent management and development. At the event held in Swiss Re’s offices, experts from Swiss Re and Novartis shared their insights on how and why we should simplify and refocus on what truly matters in this transformative age.

The push to simplify stems from several realities:

  • Many companies have complex talent management setups they are not using effectively.
  • Pursuing too many initiatives in parallel confuses employees.
  • In a complicated environment, having a common language and understanding is crucial.

The discussions highlighted a new focus on critical roles, irrespective of seniority, which significantly contribute to an organisation’s success. Attendees suggested streamlining existing systems before adding new ones.

The Swiss Re Next offices in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo copyright Leonardo Finotti 2017

A senior HR leader from one company explained how they use potential rankings, focusing on top employees in critical roles. Another company has fast-trackers, forming a small percentage of the workforce. Mobility is a priority for another, emphasising ongoing conversations between HR, the business, and talent. Some companies focus on retaining or investing in talent.

Swiss Re’s Talent Management strategy emphasises accountability, simplicity, and speed. To guide development efforts, they categorise talent as vertical, lateral, and well-positioned. 

Novartis simplified talent management by concentrating on a small, focused group of roles within the organisation, senior or not, identified as critical. They stressed the “payback period” concept, ensuring employees deliver in their roles before considering mobility. Novartis also introduced the “unbossed” initiative, empowering individuals while holding them accountable.

We would like to thank all the event participants for their engagement and insights. A special thank you to Swiss Re’s Nicole PieterseSteffen Berkenkopf Laib and Ulrich Tennie as well as to Franck Appleby of Novartis, all of whose input set the stage for lively discussions.

We look forward to hosting many more insightful thought leadership gatherings in Switzerland and around the globe. Keep an eye out here for upcoming opportunities for networking and best practice sharing.


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