Use of Technology

Our interviewees felt that some of MSF’s systems are outdated and noted that performance records are kept on excel sheets, so they are hard to analyse.

In training and development, MSF does provide some e-learning opportunities, but our interviewees were worried about the impersonal nature of e-learning:

[we] have some e-learning platforms .but, there is always a problem of e-learning in terms of, you know.they are a little bit closed and.impersonal - you are just working in front of a machine.even if they put a system of tutors and so make it a little more interactive. it is not the ideal way of working.

Some of these problems could not be addressed because of financial constraints:

The budget probably is very minimal if existent at all, in terms of what can be done around talent management in the organisation.

Future of TM

Several factors strengthen the TM-oriented approach at MSF. The continual flow of external candidates brings new perspectives. While many individuals who have been with MSF for a long time believe that turnover cannot be avoided, these new employees see this as a problem to be solved. Even existing employees, when they study for higher degrees in HRM-related fields, become aware of TM practices at other organisations and come up with alternatives that might work better than the existing arrangements. One of our interviewees thought TM would be systematic in future both in headquarters and in the different countries where MSF works, although she thought that MSF needed to change its attitude to TM:

So far the organisation has considered that this work is’s HRM’s job to find the people and put them in positions. And so, managers have not invested much time in considering in a very formal way who are the talents.and really, take some kind of ownership in ensuring that people grow.We are trying to overcome [this].

MSF provides long-term contracts to very few people, usually only for administrative jobs in its headquarters. One of our interviewees expected that TM would allow MSF to manage turnover of talent better in the near future. She thought that

MSF needs to give long-term contracts to a selected number of people so that they can envision a future with MSF. This applies especially to people who have been sent out as expatriates, who deserve a chance for their work to be recognised, by being offered a long-term contract.

Challenges in Implementing TM

With the current subjective criteria system, managers do not have to justify their decision to recommend someone as a talent. A minority of managers prefer it to remain that way, as it enables them to recommend people they like. In MSF, key stakeholders will need to be convinced that TM produces beneficial outcomes for the organisation. As with most HRM initiatives, the immediate benefits of TM are not apparent:

It’s like planting a seed. You have to have to put water...and you have to protect it...but it takes time.And people here are very impatient because they are working in emergencies and, you know, you don’t save lives with talent management!

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