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The mechanism of using talent management to recruit individuals has been constantly evolving over the decades. It is generally understood as an area under HR which specifically deals with recruiting and retaining talent at a much faster rate than general HR practices (Olsen, 2000). It could conversely be also understood as a process in itself, delivering suitable candidates to a company and also ensuring that there are adequate training mechanisms for these employees (Kelser, 2002; Pascal 2004; Schweyer, 2004). Hence, for the purpose of talent management is important at any organization, especially for large-scale manufacturing companies with both external and internal talent management needs. The purpose of this report is to conduct research on talent management strategies and obstacles, particularly in the manufacturing sector and to produce a project management plan which seeks to frame a working talent management strategy for a company. The company which the report is based on is Unilever.


Outline of Issues and Objectives of Report

A significant issue with the present theory of talent management is that there is a unifying lack of definition (Lewis and Heckman, 2006). As a result, there is a lack of proper mechanisms through which companies can streamline their recruitment processes (Ready and Conger, 2007). Another significant issue with the current practice of talent management is the involvement of high level executives like the CEOs of companies being involved in the recruitment process, whereby research showed that the minimum amount of time spent by CEOs on the recruitment projects is 20% and that number can go as high as 50% when there is a lack of proper mechanism for talent management (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2006). The involvement of such high ranking individuals in the recruitment process takes their attention away from the executive work which is their job. This report is concerned with the identification of the issues around talent management in the manufacturing sector, in the context of the company Unilever and deliver recommendations based on the company’s objectives, capabilities and research based on literature. Since there is little scope to engage in research in the field because of the pandemic, this report will majorly be basing its plans and conclusions on the research which already exists in relevant literature.

Project Management Plan

The following section will elucidate on the above mentioned objectives in the form of a project management plan, which will attempt to systematically identify and relate the issues of talent management and talent sourcing in the manufacturing industry of the UK, taking the particular case of the company Unilever. 3.1 Executive Summary The theory and practice of Talent Management is in need to updating of definitions to accommodate the needs of corporations in the present world. This is because of the increase in the usage of technology in the professional world, which is adapting to the changing scenario far better than the human resources in a company (Walsh and Volini, 2017). Over the years, new trends of ‘poaching’ talented individuals from different companies has become a trend, however this approach is fraught with problems as very easily people could hire employees without understanding that the context of value in their company could be different from the context of value in the company from which the employees are coming (Baldassari and Roux, 2017; Groyesberg and Abrahams, 2006; Amankwah-Amoah and Sarpong, 2014). A 2010 research report found that the most important resource that the company can get in the next 20 years will be relevant talent and there will be a keen competition for the procurement of talented individuals in the manufacturing corporate sector (Makela et al, 2010). There is a need to developing strategies for the acquiring of talent in companies, especially companies like Unilever, where there is an ever growing need for talented employees (Huselid et al, 2005). The objective of this report is to categorically look at the problems which are faced by corporate companies which operate in the manufacturing sector when it comes to acquiring talented individuals. The report will attempt to explore the mechanisms which are employed by the company’s HR team in strategising and operationalising talent management and understanding what motivates their talent management strategy. It will analyse their strategy by comparing it with available literature, in an attempt to understand where are the gaps in strategy exist and how they can be filled. 3.2 Project Deliverables and Scope The project means to inquire into the issues related to talent management and acquisition in the manufacturing industry, taking the context of Unilver, a UK based company which is based in the city of London and has within itself several subsidiaries like Ben and Jerry’s, Hindusthan Unilever (the Indian subsidiary of the company), Unilever Japan (the Japanese subsidiary of the company), Kibon, Dollar Shave Club and many more ( In terms of talent management, the company human resources policy embodies what it refers to as the ‘Four Acres’ programme, which concentrates on the internal talent development of managers working in the company. The programme concentrates on leadership programme for a select few individuals of the company and these individuals then become a core part of the company (Hull, 2018). The human resources arena of the company places emphasis on the levels not at the very top level, but at the lower operational level, where the role of the individual is more important than the designation of the individual ( Applying this in the context of the manufacturing industry, one of the key emergent issue is the issue of promotion of talent based on ‘loyalty’ rather than talent in an organization (Kim et al, 2014). Retention of employees is a big issue and recruitment becomes a costly process, whereby internal recruitment becomes more important than developing strategies for future development of talent (CIPD, 2017). This can become evident from the lack of literature on talent management strategies with regards to external prospective employees. The report seeks to look more intimately at the areas where talent Applying this in the context of the manufacturing industry management can improve and work with the existing literature available for the company in order to identify and remedy the gaps 3.3 Project Schedule The usage of a Gantt chart in the mapping out project schedules is a staple in project management plans, the chart was developed in the early 20th century for this very purpose (Lecter and Geraldi, 2012). The Gantt chart for this project is shown below: 3.4 Project Resources The following section will elucidate on the resources which are required for the completion of this project. Project Resources Project Resources

3.5 Risk and Issue Management Plan Currently, there are various issues that could cause a derailment of the project, and mostly all of them are environmental factors: Research is indicating towards another wave of COVID in the UK, which could occur by the late summer or winter months of 2021 ( While the administration has outlined agenda for easing the lockdown restrictions that have been put into place because of COVID, a new resurgence of cases could potentially mean that these easing of restrictions may not take place ( If such an occurrence takes place, the research will be hindered by limited access to the interviewees and resources like literature which can be accessed through libraries and governmental records. In the case something like this happens, the research will shift its interview methods to virtual interviewing and access relevant literature through online sources and catalogues. In case there are participants who do not want to be interviewed, the researcher will assure them of the anonymity of their responses and recording of the response of the interviewees will only take place for those interviewees who consent to it. In case of the paucity of funding, the research will use virtual methods to interview people and use free resources like Project Gutenburg for accessing literature. 3.6 Communication Management Plan The progress of the project will be maintained in a project logbook, which will be made available to the project funding bodies to check the progress of the project. Weekly meetings are expected to be held between the researcher and the project funders and managers in order for the funders and managers to be updated on the progress of the report. A collaborative google sheets document will be maintained, which will allow the supervisors of this project to comment on a particular action or particular data which has been acquired. In case the research is not being able to collect the kind of data that it aims to collect, then it will meet the supervisors of the project to discuss what further course of action can be undertaken.

Gaps and Recommendations

The following section will consist on reviewing existing literature on the practice of talent management in the contemporary practice from the perspective of understanding where are the potential areas of gaps. Based on the gaps that have been explored before and the ideas that have been put forward by previous researchers, this report will try to recommend potential initiatives that companies can take in order to 4.1 Talent Management: Issues in Understanding and Research One of the earliest methods used to understand the role of talent acquisition in a company was explored by Taylor in 1911. Follet explored the role of the group and teamwork in his watershed study about talent management in 1959 and his work proved to lay a tradition for the understanding of team in a corporate setting. In the sections elucidated above, a pertinent worry of talent management strategy is that there is a lack of clear definitions in organizational research. The process of issuing talent management strategies in the HR of a company involves differentiating clearly between the daily operations of the company and the specific talent acquisition part of the company (Vaiman and Vance, 2008). This is how HR can fruitfully impact the overall operations of the organisations (Lawler, 2008). The same issue is reiterated by Boudreau and Ramstad (2005) who argue that what current HR practices need is a ‘decision science’ whereby the idea of ‘talentship’ becomes integral to the HR practice. The issue with contemporary strategies are many, one of them being that there is a professional culture gap between the talent in a company and the incoming professionals, often there is a clash between the two when there is a matter of training. Research suggested that talent was trained only at an immediate basis, rendering them incapable of being able to look beyond short-term tasks (Whysall et al, 2019). 4.2 Arenas of Improvement in Talent Management: Critiques and Approaches The typical approaches in the strategic study of talent management can broadly be divided into three approaches. The first approach can be attributed to the regular practices of selection, training and recruiting of individuals. This approach is not very separate from the daily activities that an HR body does in a company (Hilton, 2000; Mercer, 2005). Apart from the hiring process evident in the official sites of the company, not much is available about these processes in Unilever. The interns talent management system is classified by four levels of classes below the Business Group President, whereby moving from one level to the higher level is a significant move for the internal employees of the company (Reitsma, 2001). However, recent literature on the system and its efficiency doesn’t exist. The second approach is concerned with the external aspects of talent management, whereby resourcing of talent from outside becomes and important issue (Kelser, 2002). While this approach appears very outward-looking, whereby the internal needs of the company is analysed carefully before staffing needs are analysed and before the recruitment and selection process can begin (Lermusiaux, 2005). The third approach is a more specialised view on conscious strategy on the acquisition of the top pool of talent in the area that the company specialises in, it is also referred to as ‘top-grading’ the company, by consistently seeking out the best employees in the field. This approach also consists of terminating employees who are below average and do not specifically contribute anything to the company in an exceptional fashion. Interestingly, in most of the literature which surveys this kid of approach, there is little discussion on the scope of training (Axelrod et al, 2002; Michaels et al, 2001). However, there is recognition of the fact that certain cultural and demographic factors may make certain individuals low value but different demographic and culture may highly elevate their values (Gandossy and Kao, 2004; Romans and Lardner, 2005). 4.3 Recommendations As elucidated before, there is not much research about how the company Unilever approaches its talent management strategies. The internal and external recruitment of the company is done using the tool of VURV, which is a service for large scale companies to efficiently recruit individuals and eliminate any wasteful hours between work in order to organise effective teams (Rajan, 2015; Peoplelink is the mechanism which takes care of the communication part of the recruitment process and in terms of the outside recruitment, the company Accenture is responsible for large scale hiring (Rajan, 2015). As elucidated by the literature and the available sources on the talent management processes of the company Unilever, it is evident that much is left to be desired. The Four Acres program of the company concentrates on developing the talents of the upper levels of the company, at the managerial level. However, improvement of the professional and technical skills of the subordinate levels of employees are also just as important. Recently, Unilever initiated an Artificial Intelligence powered marketplace called FLEX, which empowers the internal employees of the company to work on projects of varying scale so that the employees can successfully work on developing their professional skills ( Thus, while Unilever’s internal talent management strategy is making strides, there needs to be more development in its external recruitment strategies. Order Now There is an urgent need for a new approach to the talent management strategy, as companies needs to acknowledge the fluid nature of skills. The AI based strategy for the application of jobs is a smart move on the part of large scale companies as it allows for the best individuals to acquire positions while making space for any skills which they may have acquired informally ( Recognising the transferability of skills, among others, is one of the factors which they company needs to take into consideration in order to gain top talent and develop its talent pool internally.

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  32. Performance Review

    Conducting a review of literature and examining into the manufacturing sector to understand the gaps in practice and knowledge of talent management. Specifically taking the example of Unilever, a manufacturing company based in the UK, understand what are the specific challenges which are being faced by the company in terms of talent management, understand the trends in talent management that it is undertaking and recommend strategies for improvement. Goals Achieved The project was successfully able to examine literature and map the development of the ideal of talent management, in an attempt to understand the contemporary understanding of the term. The project understood talent management specifically from the perspective of the manufacturing industry and identify the gaps in research or periodic gaps in the research of talent management in the manufacturing industry. The project was able to map out a project management plan for inquiry into the current issues with the understanding of talent management. The project discovered that the ambiguity with defining talent management and the blurring of talent management strategies with human resources strategies was a pertinent issue in the management. Additionally, there is a lack of mechanism in the external talent management strategies of companies in the manufacturing industry and talent management strategies consists of strategies in the top level of the company, which is a limiting factor. The report also discovered that the strategies of acquiring talent through acquisition of talented individuals was a bigger priority in the company than enabling the individuals in the company to develop their internal and professional skills. It discovered that while Unilever is taking stances in the improvement of that area, what still remains to seen is how much the AI powered initiative in talent management makes a difference in the quality of talent in the company. Improvement Areas This report has been limited by factors like non-accessibility of field data because of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Additionally, another limiting factor of this report is the issue of literature gap, some aspects of the inquiry like the talent management strategy of Unilever in recent years or their talent management strategy during the restrictions caused by the pandemic have not been made apparent by the company. The research understood that the perspectives of research into the practice of talent management is reliant on earlier literature; due to the collection of data and the demographics of the population which have been researched upon may produce slight biases, which may not be able to relate to the particular company that the research is delving upon or the particular research inquiry that is being done in this document. In this particular research area, there is scope for inquiry into the mechanisms which are employed by manufacturing companies for the purposes of talent management. Furthermore, the research can be developed to encompass several other sectors, like the service sector and the IT sector. The research can internally be used by companies to alter or construct their talent management strategies and introduce initiatives for internal hiring.

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