External Talent Needs Management, Too

The corporate use of external talent across sectors and geographies is more common than ever. Talent can provide companies with access to new capabilities and technologies; it can enable faster and more agile response to markets; it can be used to test new opportunities before making major investments; it can be used to respond to demand peaks and to attain scale quickly; and, perhaps most commonly, it can reduce costs.

The problem is that most companies don’t have a system in place to ensure that they are optimizing their return on external talent. Instead, they treat external talent with the same narrow “you work, we pay you” mind-set that they abandoned long ago with their own full-time employees because of its negative effects on productivity, loyalty and retention, and quality and customer experience.

Any manager charged with overseeing external talent could improve the return on the company’s investment by adopting some simple practices. One such practice would be to devote a bit of time to ensuring that the external talent working in your company understands the strategic context of the tasks they have been hired to conduct. Another would be to break down the “us versus them” wall that too often exists between employees and external talent. A third would be the provision of ongoing performance appraisals.

Regardless of the approach, companies should be taking a fresh look at how they manage external talent. Outsourcing should not mean out of sight and out of mind.

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