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7 talent management trends that HR must keep pace with



Back in Hong Kong for its fourth year on September 5 at the Hotel ICON, Learning and Development Asia is bigger and better than ever before and earned its reputation as the most influential L&D strategy event in Asia.
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Among the various learning points derived from the on-site conversations among HR leaders at Talent Management Asia 2019, Malaysia, Jerene Ang sums up seven of them here.

Having hosted Talent Management Asia 2019, the region’s leading human capital strategy conference, for seven years; this year, the Human Resources project team, led by Heather Ang, decided it was time to breathe new life into the event.

This year, the Malaysia edition of the conference was held at New World Petaling Jaya Hotel on 26 to 27 March 2019. The two-day conference was attended by more than 150 people, and saw over 30 speakers taking the stage to share trends and best practices. [check out some of the event photos]

For an enhanced learning experience, various engaging and innovative session formats were introduced, such as the 20-20 Case Study, Knowledge Café, Fishbowl Panel, Solution Room and Fireside Chat. A fun game of HR Bingo was also weaved into the programme to bring up the atmosphere.

To facilitate context-relevant learning, and high interactivity, delegates had access to three breakout streams: Leading Strategic Talent Management, Riding the Digital Wave, and SMEs – Time to Sink or Swim.

After starting with a few plenary sessions in the morning of day one, delegates then split into the streams, where they remained for the second half of day one and first half of day two before grouping back together for the closing plenary sessions on day 2.

[check out some of the event photos]

Among the innumerable nuggets of learning derived from the on-site conversations, we summed up our top seven below:

#1 EX = CX = ROI

Your employee experience is your customer experience. If your employee experience is there, your customer experience will fall in place.

To get the employee experience right, you have to know what your employees want. In general, employees want 4Es – they want to be empowered, enabled, have experiential opportunities, and to be engaged. But in order to have these 4Es, you have to have the 4Rs – you have to give them a real job, real opportunity, real experience, and real stories.

When creating a good employee experience, start with a high trust culture. If you don’t already have one, find out why and address the problem. If you already have a high trust culture, make sure it aligns to your company values, then sustain the experience. If your culture is not aligned to the company values, you have to make sure leaders start living the company culture from the top.

In the process, one of the challenges you may face is convincing the top management that allowing flexibility is the way to go. To do so, you need to start with a pilot. The management have been running the company for many years, so you can’t just throw out all the old practices at one go. You also need to engage the right people and get them to be your advocates.

#2 Culture or/and strategy?

Culture or strategy? It’s culture and strategy. Both are important. In surveys we ask which one has a greater impact on business? 96% of CEOs say Culture, but when we ask what they spend their time on, 74% spend their on Strategy, while only 26% spend time on Culture. Why does that happen?

Because strategy is what they learn. Nobody teaches you how to shape and build your culture in MBA courses. Everyone needs to understand what the culture of the organisation is.

And when it comes to transforming organisational culture, the reason is all about the top three or four key results that you want to achieve differently, for example, customer experience. There have to be very specific reasons behind it.

#3 Design principles for LMS 2.0

The learning management system of tomorrow would be designed with the following principles in mind:

  • Capability cannot be built adhoc, it has to be continuous. The learning starts when an employee joins, and stops only when they leave.
  • Learning cannot be course based. It has to be based on skills and competencies needed to do the job better.
  • Short and bite-sized learning to suit today’s workplace demands.
  • Learning must be done in the flow of work. Employees are saying, ‘give me learning when I’m sitting beside the customer so I can answer their questions better’.
  • Personalised learning. The journey should be fully blended. Some should be classroom based, some online based and some micro learning.

#4 Preparing leaders for the future

In today’s world where technology disruption is happening faster than ever before, the question for HR now is: Are we preparing for the new jobs?

Research have shown that 10 years from now, 40% of the world’s leading companies today will not exist in any meaningful form. Learning from past experiences of companies like Nokia and Kodak, in HR, it’s not enough to not do anything wrong – not doing anything wrong just means a slower path to extinction.

With the rapid advancement of technology and AI, in the future, the cognitive aspects of the work will be taken over. It is the emotional aspects that cannot be taken over yet.

Hence, as HR, it is imperative to focus on the essential skills first – the soft skills, things like persuasion, negotiation, emotional intelligence, leadership, and resilience.

In such an environment, there is also a need to rethink what business is about and how to ensure society benefits from the fourth industrial revolution. As things are changing, we have to evolve, and we have to change fast, but some things must stay true. In such an environment, the leader needs to play the anchor – they must stay true to their purpose and values.

#5 Ensuring gender parity in boardrooms

When it comes to gender parity in the boardrooms, organisations have the key responsibility to start it at the management. But it doesn’t only need to be in the organisation. It also needs to be at the policy level in the government and in the society level.

On the individual level, both genders have a part to play.

Women need to speak up and own the space. Visibility and confidence should be women’s best friends.

Men have to play a part too. In fact, it starts with the men – how much encouragement and support do men give their partners? Because, without the support from men, women will continue to face pressure at work and at home.

#6 How to manage a multi-generational workforce

When managing a multi-generational workforce, conflict may arise – especially in cases raised where the younger generation’s hunger for career progression, conflicts with older employees who are uncomfortable reporting to someone younger.

In such a scenario, it is essential for HR to consider why the younger employee has been promoted to a higher position. If they are promoted based on merit, then it is easy to justify and mitigate the problem.

However, if they are promoted for the sake of giving them the progression they want, then it’s time to rethink the definition of ‘career progression’.

While career progression is usually defined as moving up the career ladder, we have to remember that since the ladder is no longer relevant – it’s more of a jungle gym now – lateral moves are also considered progression.

This mindset change needs to happen especially since three generations are already in the workforce with a fourth about to enter.

#7 Ensuring successful culture change

You’ve probably heard the saying “people leave managers, not companies.” But that’s only part of the problem. In a good company, bad managers make a difference; however, in bad companies, good or bad managers do not make a difference to an employee’s decision to leave.

Hence, it is more important to focus on the organisation culture and behaviours. The change needs to start from the top as the behaviour of leaders will help shape the culture.

However, you can’t just put the culture there and expect people to follow it. You also have to share the strategy behind it and how it can help the business, as well as tell the individuals what is in it for them.

Culture change has to start in small steps, with the key success factor being engagement. The more you engage, the better the results.


This knowledge was shared at the Human Resources’ conference, Talent Management Asia 2019, Malaysia. To know more and attend such events, please visit: http://www.humanresourcesonline.net/events/.


Presenters, panelists, moderators, and stream chairpersons at Talent Management Asia 2019, Malaysia included:

  • Farid Basir, Chief Human Capital Officer, Telekom Malaysia
  • Elisabeth Melander Stene, Chief Human Resources Officer, Digi
  • Rasidah Kasim, Group Chief Human Resource Officer, Affin Hwang Investment Bank
  • Norlida Abdul Azmi, Head, Human Resources, HSBC
  • Yeoh Sai Yew, Group Director, People Department, VietJet Air
  • Ng Yat Seng, Head of Talent Management, Synthomer
  • Peter Law, Senior General Manager and Head of People Development and Recognition, Mah Sing Group
  • Chew Ann Jee, Manager, People Development and Performance, Mah Sing Group
  • Sharmeel Kaur, Head Of Human Resources, DHL Asia Pacific Shared Services – Global Finance, Express
  • LinTze Lynn Ho, Head of Human Resources, Region Asia Pacific, H. Rosen Engineering
  • Nazral Safril Mohammad Sapari, Head, Human Resources & Administration Division, Touch ‘n Go
  • Izham Ab Wahab, Head, Group Human Capital, DRB-HICOM
  • Nadiah Tan Abdullah, Chief Human Resources Officer, S P Setia
  • Shafinaz Jamaludin, Head, Learning & Talent Management, DRB-HICOM
  • Lim Chee Gay, Chief Human Resources Officer, Teledirect Telecommerce
  • Dr. Loo Leap Han, Group Head of Human Resources and Administration, Kota Menara Ufuk
  • Arjuna Raj, Chief Strategy Officer, LittleLives
  • Annie Lim, Human Resources Director, Swagelok Malaysia
  • Koljit Singh, Head of Organisational and Cultural Excellence, BASF PETRONAS Chemicals
  • Kenneth Z Tan, Head of Human Resources, Administration and Purchasing, Sunsuria
  • Alan Cheah, Chief Executive Officer, GoCar Malaysia
  • Henry Lee, Managing Director, Culture Forte
  • Subetra Maruthamuthu, Head of Human Resources, Infinity Blockchain Ventures
  • Roslinda Abu Bakar Kellsey, Head of Human Capital & Talent, The Center of Applied Data Science
  • Adam Abdullah, Independent HR Consultant
  • Sharma Kumari, Talent Development Consultant, Step by Stepz
  • Ramya Balakrishnan, Director, People Possibilities Advisory
  • John L.Y Kam, Chief Executive Officer, D Jungle People
  • Heera Singh, Principal Consultant, HEERA Training and Management Consultant
  • Kuljit Chadha, Co-founder and COO, Disprz
  • Gurinder Pal Singh, General Manager, Business Consulting – HCM and Payroll Practice, Ramco
  • Elif Malmqvist, Director, Talentum Eq Consulting
  • Li Ann Ho, HR Consultant, Talentum EQ Consulting

Human Resources would like to thank all its sponsors and partners who have supported this event:

Gold sponsors

  • Culture Forte
  • D Jungle People
  • Ramco Systems

Silver sponsor

  • Disprz

Event partner

  • BGC Group


Asia’s most renowned regional HR Excellence Awards is back in October in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to sieve out HR’s finest gems. Are you a diamond in the rough? View the categories and find out more.

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