Talent Management explained.

There are many definitions for trying to explain talent management, however the CIPD says that a working definition for both ‘talent’ and ‘talent management is:
Talent consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organisational performance either through their immediate contribution or, in the longer-term, by demonstrating the highest levels of potential.
Talent management is the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of those individuals who are of particular value to an organisation, either in view of their ‘high potential’ for the future or because they are fulfilling business/operation-critical roles.

These interpretations underline the importance of recognising that it is not sufficient simply to attract individuals with high potential. Developing, managing and retaining those individuals as part of a planned strategy for talent is equally important, as well as adopting systems to measure the return on this investment.
Many organisations are also now broadening their definitions, looking at the ‘talents’ of all their staff and working on ways to develop their strengths (see ‘inclusive versus exclusive approaches’ below). At its broadest, then, the term ‘talent’ may be used to encompass the entire workforce of an organisation.

Features of a talent management strategy

Alignment to corporate strategy
Ensuring that the talent strategy is closely aligned with the corporate strategy must be a priority. Strategic analysis from the business perspective should feed into an HR forecast, which can help shape an organisation’s tailored approach to talent management.
More information on workforce planning to meet business needs, including identifying skills needs for key or specialist resources to support business strategy, may need to be analysed to ensure you have the right people, at the right time, with the right skills.

Inclusive versus exclusive approaches
Some organisations adopt an inclusive approach to talent management creating a ‘whole workforce’ approach to engagement and talent development. Others develop a more exclusive focus segmenting talent according to need, that is, the talent management process specifically relates to key or high-potential individuals.
Often a blended approach is used in practice, with attention paid to employees as a talent group as a whole but with special focus given to a particular core group or groups of employees.
Regardless of which approach organisations adopt, fairness and consistency must be applied in all talent management processes, alongside diversity considerations. However, some employers do not invariably adopt ‘joined-up’ approaches linking their talent management programmes with their diversity policies and activities, meaning that they are failing to reap the benefits of accessing and developing talent from the widest possible pool.

Involving the right people
Careful consideration needs to be paid to involving the right stakeholders in developing the talent management strategy and associated activities.

A key initial consideration for employers is how to select participants for formal talent schemes. A structured selection processes is likely to increase the perceived value of talent programmes and the motivation of participants to perform.
For those not selected, by contrast, the negative effects of being ‘passed over’ are not as detrimental as might be feared, particularly if individuals are provided with sensitive and practical feedback.
Once participants have completed talent programmes, there is a need to maintain dialogue with and between these individuals, by means such as ongoing networking structures, as sometimes participants express frustration that the career development opportunities associated with the talent management process do not immediately materialise.

Visible senior-level support is essential, and a ‘talent panel’ is a useful means of ensuring the involvement of directors and senior management, especially when it has representation across the organisation.
However line managers must take responsibility for managing performance and for identifying and developing talent in their own areas, but also need to be encouraged to see talent as a corporate rather than a local resource.

HR function
HR specialists play an important role in providing support and guidance in the design and development of approaches to talent management that will fit the needs of the organisation, especially with facilitating talent pools and programmes and in maintaining the momentum of such activities.
If organisations choose to implement formal selection processes for talent pools, the HR function additionally has a major role to play in ensuring that the selection criteria are applied consistently, as well as developing a planned strategy for those who are not accepted to be part of the programme.

Focusing on the talent management cycle

Attracting, developing, managing and evaluating talent.
Attracting talent
The ability to attract external talent depends upon how potential applicants view the organisation, the industry or sector in which it operates and whether they share the values of that organisation. The creation of an attractive employer brand is an important factor in recruiting external talent.
Developing talent
Talent development should be linked to other learning and development initiatives including both informal as well as formal learning interventions. Participants on talent management programmes tend to value coaching, mentoring and networking as the latter may offer the opportunity to meet senior people in the organisation.
Managing talent
Investment in management and leadership development will positively impact on talent retention. The process of succession planning in particular helps many organisations in identifying and preparing future potential leaders to fill key positions, while secondments may also play a useful role.
Tracking and evaluating talent management
Evaluation of talent management is difficult, requiring both quantitative and qualitative data that is valid, reliable and robust, to ensure that the investment is meeting organisational needs. One method could involve the collation of employee turnover and retention data for key groups such as senior management or those who have participated in high-flyer programmes.

Ultimately, organisational success is the most effective evaluation of talent management.

Content Copyright The Development Partnership 2022