Canada: Aligning Your Talent Management And Business Strategy Requires A New Mindset

Last Updated: August 16 2011
Article by Laura J. Croucher

History tends to repeat itself. This was particularly apparent in the wake of the recent economic downturn, when the financial crisis triggered an almost predictable rise in unemployment rates. In the scramble to maintain profitability, countless organizations initiated layoffs, instituted hiring freezes, and otherwise shelved new projects and investments. Now that the economy is on an upswing, organizations are refocusing on attracting people with the skills and capabilities required to help them take advantage of improving market conditions.

In many ways, this renewed focus simply accelerates a trend that began several years ago when financial institutions first started translating advanced talent management theories into tangible efforts. Since that time, numerous Canadian banks have established dedicated talent management teams and integrated workforce planning programs designed to support the organization's short- and long-term resourcing objectives.

Yet, despite this progress, banks now face challenges that barely existed before the financial crisis hit. Although Canada's financial institutions emerged relatively unscathed from recent market weakness, consumer confidence has been damaged—making it more essential to build a workforce committed to delivering exceptional levels of customer care. This is true across all areas of the bank, from client-facing functions to IT and Finance.

To complicate matters, banks must also build new competencies in response to more stringent regulatory mandates. To meet expanding needs for broader skillsets, many banks are scrambling to build internal capacity for people in a wide range of functions, from financial analysis, finance, and accounting to risk management and technology.

Achieving these objectives requires more than a traditional approach to attracting and retaining talent. Recognizing that the war for talent never ends, financial institutions need to make talent attraction, retention, and training daily activities. This takes more than a different mindset; in many cases, it also requires a cultural shift.

Learning From the Leaders

In the not-so-distant past, talent management was not as complex as it is today. Shifting demographics and technological innovation have changed this equation. As the baby boomer generation retires, many are taking their knowledge with them, leaving organizations with significant talent gaps. Finding new people to plug these holes is complicated by the vastly divergent motivations displayed by today's younger, multicultural, geographically dispersed workforce. These trends mandate organizations to consider strategies that barely existed only a few decades ago—from flexible work hours, outsourcing arrangements, and mobile workforces to engaging employees through the use of social media.

On the plus side, successful examples already exist. Formal leadership programs now play key roles in attracting, developing, placing, and retaining talent at most of Canada's top banks. Similarly, many banks use rotational programs for both existing and new employees as part of their overall efforts to expand their resource capabilities, build greater technical breadth, and facilitate their succession planning efforts.

Here's a case in point: one Canadian organization with an established and mature model considers talent management part of its overall culture and daily practice. As part of its commitment to walk the talk, this organization has embedded accountability for knowledge transfer, development, and resource advancement into its job accountabilities, which are linked to specific roles and the incumbents themselves. Leaders are expected to provide mentoring to their identified successors, and to receive mentoring themselves. In essence, both talent development and resource planning have been embedded into the organizational mindset.

A New Way of Thinking about Talent

To be sure, workforce planning challenges persist. To adapt to shifting market realities, financial institutions must continue to refine their talent management programs to take emerging trends into account as part of their capacity and demand planning. Current programs to address the evolving needs of Generation Y will need to evolve into new programs to address the needs of the emerging Internet generation. And mitigating unforeseen risks requires companies to align their workforce plans to their emerging long-term needs as well.

Fortunately, Canada's banks are well on their way. Already, leaders recognize that conversations around talent cannot remain confined to human resources professionals. Instead, top management must think about talent, care about talent, and develop talent all the time. They must identify potential leaders from both outside the bank and from all levels and departments within the bank. They must discuss resourcing issues at weekly department meetings and monthly reviews. And they must commit to actively seek out opportunities for learning to foster the development of necessary skills.

At the same time, these individual managerial efforts should be supported by more formal organizational structures, processes, and technologies. For instance, financial institutions may be able to avoid potential talent shortages if they understand how labour market forces, new communications approaches, and emerging reward cultures will affect their resourcing strategies. They may be able to plug knowledge gaps by sharing and managing information in more collaborative ways. They may be able to heighten employee engagement by continually investing in understanding what motivates their people and providing incentives for the right behaviour. And they will almost certainly improve performance and shareholder value by finding ways for their staff to more effectively collaborate, learn, and share knowledge.

Fostering a Talent Management Mindset

Before workforce planning can yield measurable results, financial institutions must ensure they have the appropriate resources, processes, and infrastructure in place. The following questions can help you assess your readiness:

  • Do you have fully effective workforce planning tools and techniques that give you a clear view on resource allocation?
  • Does every employee understand how their job functions contribute to business success?
  • Do you continuously work to identify developmental opportunities for your staff?
  • Has your leadership team integrated workforce planning into their daily activities?
  • Do you link workforce planning strengths to the performance of individual managers?
  • How do you share information and knowledge capital?
  • Do you have processes for measuring the progress and effectiveness of your workforce planning strategies?

Taking a Long-Term View

When considered through this type of integrated lens, it becomes clear that strategic workforce planning requires a cultural shift. Rather than considering how to win the talent war, financial institutions need to adopt programs and practices designed to support employee growth, leverage learning opportunities, and foster the ongoing development of critical skills.

As resources become scarcer and the competition for talent continues to heat up, the financial institutions best able to effectively identify, develop, deploy, and retain top talent will emerge victorious. Similarly, both consumer confidence and business growth depend on the existence of a loyal, committed, and happy workforce. By approaching employee engagement as an ongoing strategic imperative, rather than a single initiative, Canada's financial institutions can build a talent culture that positions them to realize improved productivity, profitability, and shareholder value over the long term. High-performing organizations recognize this reality, which is why they continue to invest in nurturing high-potential talent.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions