The Greater China Talent Management Summit 2014
Where Top-notch HR Experts Meet

Widely recognised as one of the most important human resources conferences in Hong Kong, the Greater China Talent Management Summit 2014, organised by, was held in late June at the Hotel Icon.

During the Summit, several heavyweight speakers were invited to share their inspiring views on people leadership strategies to reshape the success of future organisations, with about 1,000 human resources practitioners and senior management personnel across a range of different industries on hand to listen.

Faced with the accelerating pace of transformation in the business world brought on by an array of crucial factors like demographic changes, globalisation, environmental concerns, technological innovation, changing employer-employee relationships and other issues, many organisations today must deal with challenges they¡¦ve never experienced before. It is these changes that are compelling senior management staff to rethink their organisational structures and people strategies in order to safeguard future sustainable success.

A People-Oriented Approach to Lead a Diversified Workforce

Kicking off the Summit was Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare of the HKSAR, who stressed that Hong Kong must tackle the demographic challenges of an ageing population on the one hand and a stringent labour force on the other. ¡§By 2041, one out of three Hong Kong residents will be aged 65 or above; that¡¦s 2.56 million people in total, among whom about one million will be people aged 80 or older,¡¨ said Cheung. ¡§You can imagine the magnitude of the problems and challenges that confront us.¡¨

¡§Worth noting also is that the labour participation rate will drop from 58.8% in 2012 to 49.5% in 2041,¡¨ added Cheung. ¡§The labour force will peak in 2018 with 3.71 million working people, decreasing to 3.51 million by 2035, before resuming moderate growth.¡¨

¡§Given this scenario, employers need to think out of the box in order to tap the full potential of the local workforce.¡¨ He envisioned that a successful corporation of the next decade and beyond should have a team of part-time and voluntary silver-haired mentors coaching the creative and dynamic generation Y along with greater numbers of female homemakers going to work with more flexible schedules safety-netted with child care or elderly care support. Those who should not be neglected are the disabled who can unleash their potential through the aid of technologies, and the ethnic minorities who can contribute the best of different cultures. He concluded - ¡§At the helm of the team are those who truly understand and appreciate people diversity.¡¨

Engaging Employees to Grow the Business

¡§The World is Changing" was the presentation theme of Glenn Dittrich, director of smarter workforce at IMB Growth Markets. He attributed the transformation of the global workforce to four main factors: speed of real-time information, mobile workforce, rise of independence, big data and analytics. These trends highlight the need for a smarter workforce.

"To make your workforce smarter is to engage them in such a way that they will contribute their best efforts to help grow your business," said Dittrich. "An in-depth understanding of the behavioural sciences and the importance of facilitating better collaboration along with exceptional digital experience and big data analytics; these factors help provide solutions for better workforce management."

Next Generation Collaboration

To engage the younger workforce, the usual ways of collaboration like face-to-face meetings, tele-conferencing and video conferencing need to give way to the next generation of communication tools. Dr. Paul Sin, CIO and executive director of BancLogix, and DBA lecturer of London South Bank University, International Academy of Management, pointed out that over 350 million employees will be using mobile devices for work by 2016.

Despite the widespread global popularity of Whatsapp, WeChat and Line, the instant messaging function of mobile devices is not really that effective for workforce collaboration. ¡§According to research, an instant chat has a lower number of ideas generated and takes longer to reach a consensus with lower recall of the discussion points compared with other traditional collaboration approaches,¡¨ said Dr. Sin.

Because most employees are categorised as knowledge workers nowadays, he stressed that HR and IT functions should facilitate not only the storage but also the dissemination of knowledge for better talent retention. ¡§Other than the use of corporate wiki and thought leaders¡¦ blogs, message-based back office support systems will gain in popularity at both the corporate and service levels,¡¨ he concluded.

Embracing Changes in the World of Pension and Retirement Planning

The next speaker Mrs. Carmen Lam, CEO of Principal Global Investors (Asia) and PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia), elaborated with her own experience on how companies are embracing changes. ¡§A sound human resources strategy can make a valuable impact in shaping on-going success,¡¨ she said.

During the merger between Principal Global Investors (Asia) and PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia), Mrs. Lam placed great emphasis on employee communications, both formal and informal. ¡§In a blood transfusion, it takes time to observe whether the body is able to accept the new blood,¡¨ said Lam. ¡§By the same token, in an M&A situation, rejection is unavoidable even though these two companies essentially share the same blood type, the same DNA and the same culture.¡¨ Implementing effective communication initiatives ensure a smooth transition while harmonising the work flow and nurturing mutual trust among the workforce.

Talent Management of the Next Era

¡§Finding talent is the most important management challenge facing most business executives,¡¨ said Joe Ngai, director and managing partner of McKinsey¡¦s Hong Kong office, during his presentation at the Summit.

To address the HR problems posed by the emergence of a young workforce, Ngai pointed out that what the next generation of employees value is quite different from their predecessors. ¡§From the research findings, we know that the younger worker cohort highly treasures an interesting work content, followed by recognition of performance and a work-life balance,¡¨ explained Ngai. ¡§Other factors like personal and career development, opportunities for future study and working independently are also high on their priority lists.¡¨

Ngai also observed that in today¡¦s business world there are too many managers and too few leaders. ¡§The ability to identify true leadership qualities has become a real HR challenge,¡¨ he said. His company asked many successful business executives to sort out some of the important factors that they thought could nurture leadership. These factors included special project assignments, different ways of structuring jobs, role models, job rotation and coaching. On the other hand, traditional training, formal performance evaluations and individual learning were regarded as least effective.

Contemporary Practice & Talent Strategy for Future Organization Success

In the panel discussion session, three guest speakers including Dr. Christine Lai, CEO and founder of Management of Heart Consultancy Limited; Steve Chow, managing director of TMS Consulting; and Iris Cheng, senior human resources - organisation and talent development, internal communication at CLP Power Hong Kong Limited, exchanged their views on talent management. As the former regional people director of Pearson Education Asia Limited, Dr. Lai referred to her previous experience of leading a cultural integration project to illustrate that particular kind of corporate change. She said that restructuring or crisis situations are considered as tests to see if a company could engage people to stay or not. To this end, Dr. Lai advocated a holistic and humanistic management approach which respects diversity, wellness and engagement of the body, mind and soul.

While Dr. Lai took a softer approach on talent management, Steve Chow championed the use of HR big data to add value to businesses. ¡§HR holds a large volume of data and wide ranging personnel information from recruitment, training, performance evaluations, compensation and benefit packages as well as talent management,¡¨ he says. ¡§ This essential ¡¥big data¡¦ can be fully used and analysed to solve problems related to staff turnover, lack of quality resumes and performance management.¡¨

Despite all this data, though, he reminded everyone that big data could not help in some areas like executive coaching.

Iris Cheng shared her experiences at CLP to roll out her ¡¥3+3 model¡¦. The first tier of this model highlights the essence of talent strategy formulation with an ¡¥outside-in¡¦ perspective that stresses the importance of understanding the employee¡¦s point of view. The model also emphasises a continual talent pipeline and investment in consultation.

The second tier points to strategy execution. ¡§As HR professionals we generally abide by the rules of confidentiality,¡¨ she said. ¡§Nevertheless, we also ensure transparency when rolling out our talent management programmes.¡¨ When implementing an HR initative, she added that it is equally important to build support at different levels within organisations and pay attention to the details that would make a big difference.

Unlocking Leadership Performance

Certainly leadership performance is critical toward ensuring the future success of organisations. Chris Frost, managing director of CEB SHL Talent Management Hong Kong, outlined the importance of network leaders who can accomplish both individual tasks and also contribute to other people¡¦s performance. ¡§Based on CEB¡¦s research, those organisations that have a stronger leadership bench could double the impact on their revenue and profit growth compared to those with a weaker leadership bench,¡¨ said Frost.

To achieve greater network efficacy, Frost explained that leaders themselves should manage to a new set of network-building activities while the organsiations concerned should apply and build network leadership skills as well as adopt a portfolio approach to succession.

Unmask Real Leadership Talent ¡V Using the Power of Psychometrics to Find Your Future Leaders

To discover true leadership talent, Henry Chamberlain, an industrial and organisational psychologist as well as the immediate past president of the Hong Kong Psychological Society, pointed out the power of psychometrics in providing a more accurate measurement of leadership potential and capabilities compared to traditional selection methods.

¡§Extensive research over the last 100 years has indicated that tests of cognitive ability and personality are among the most effective predictors of workplace performance outcomes,¡¨ explained Chamberlain. ¡§My most often used cocktail of assessment variables includes measurements of behaviours, smartness, unproductive characteristics, and motivation.¡¨

A Note of Thanks as the organizer of the Greater China Talent Management Summit would like to take this opportunity to thank all the honorable speakers, partners, sponsors, exhibitors, advertisers, facilitators and delegates from Hong Kong and overseas, who have made the summit a successful and memorable one. See you next year!