Chinese SSO Leaders Discuss Talent Management as Differentiator [Tips]

Liu Xiao

Shared service centers are a fast-growing and dynamic industry in China. Talent management is always a key consideration for every shared service center leader in constructing a productive and sustainable shared service organization. The following is a summary of one panel discussion at SSO China Week 2015 on talent management strategy. All three discussion participants are top leaders from remarkable shared service centers in China, with rich experience in talent management.


Peggy Zhao Pei Yi: Finance Operation Direction, Global Operation Asia, GE GGO Greater China

Facing the competitive shared services market, the characteristics an employee should have to be suitable for working in a fast-pace shared services environment and what they want to acquire from working in a shared services center should always be top of mind for every SS&O leader to recruit, retain and develop the best talents. GE does have a lot of planning processes to achieve this.

First of all, selecting the best suitable person from candidates when recruiting new talents and helping them to find the best suitable position according to their character and experience is important to lay the foundation for sustainable and successful talent management from the first step.

Next, to accomplish long term development of talent, every employee should have the opportunity to develop their career path in comprehensive functions. GE encourages talent to take challenges in order to grow continuously, for every position.

Thirdly, reward and recognition should be an essential part of talent management. GE tries to give employees the feeling that everyone is carefully looked after and paid enough attention to. We have several engagement councils, organizing colorful events based on different needs of employees such like spring outing, singles club to make 'lonely hearts' not lonely anymore, and so on, to support employees working in a harmonious environment and to give everyone the sense of belonging. In addition, reward given from high level leaders is another important part of GE's talent management strategy. Rewards like 'Asia CEO Excellence Award' for top performers, thanks letter from top leaders, breakfast with leaders and so on... offer talent strong recognition from top leaders to give them a sense of achievement and realize that their efforts are appreciated by the company.

Zhonghua (Jane) Chen: HR Director, 21 Vianet Group

Local companies in China have been growing tremendously fast. The HR department takes the role of a change management agency in a certain extent, which must follow and meet the new changes and challenges. Here is how talent management is run by 21 Vianet Group, from three aspects.

Considering the development of employees’ career paths, we provide a position rotation policy, which gains really positive feedback. Talent has the opportunity to be rotated among different functions within the same department and also can be rotated among the COE, BP and SSC, which opens the window for talent to see more opportunities for their career path development. As a result, when there are available openings, 21 Vianet Group will try to recruit inter-disciplinary talents, who are competent to deal with tasks for different functions.

Secondly, similarly to GE, we also emphasize reward and colorful activities for employees, such as interesting concerts during festivals, and family day, which can achieve both brand promotion and also make our own talent become super stars among our employees.

Last but not least, we have paid much attention to talent training. We hold forums, inviting talent from companies belonging to different industries, in order to allow our employees to be aware of the challenges we are facing and gaps between more advanced developed shared services centers and us. On the one hand, we continuously add value to the business to catch up with the gaps. On the other hand, this kind of training session offers our talent the opportunity to consider what can be improved in their own working process and career path.

Michael Guo: Partner, Human Capital & Change Management Advisory, Greater China, EY China

The employee structure in shared services centers has a trend of being younger and younger. Leaders, especially HR leaders, should pay more attention to their growth and feelings of working in the organization instead of encouraging this only by raising the salary. I agree with GE and 21 Vianet Group that recognition from high level leaders is essential, especially to younger talent. I always believe that the company trying to keep their talent only by money and pay increases can never go on for long.

A successful talent management strategy should always try to make the employees develop a sense of identity in the team and align with the values and culture of the company.