Definition of Talent Management
Talent management is the use of an integrated set of activities to ensure that the organization attracts, retains, motivates and develops the talented people it needs now and in the future. The aim is to secure the flow of talent, bearing in mind that talent is a major corporate resource.
It is sometimes assumed that talent management is only concerned with key people –the high flyers. For example, Smilansky (2005) stated that Talent management is aimed at improving the caliber, availability and flexible utilization of exceptionally capable (high potential) employees who can have a disproportionate impact on business performance. But everyone in an organization has talent, even if some have more talent than others. Talent management process should not be limited to the favored few. This point was made by Delong and Vijayaraghavan (2003) when they suggested that the unsung heroes of corporate performance are the capable, steady performers.
The Elements of Talent Management:
Talent management starts with the business strategy and what it signifies in terms of the talented people required by the organization. Ultimately, its aim is to develop and maintain a talent pool consisting of a skilled, engaged and committed workforce. Its elements are described below:
1. The resourcing strategy:
The business plan provides the basis for human resource planning, which defines human capital requirements and leads to attraction and retention policies and programmes for internal resourcing (identifying talent within the organization and developing and promoting it).
2. Attraction and retention policies and programmes:
These policies and programs describe the approach to ensure that the organization both gets and keeps the talent it needs. Attraction policies lead to programmes for external resourcing (recruitment and selection of people from outside the organization). Retention policies are designed to ensure that people remain as committed members of the organization. The outcome of these policies is a talent flow that creates and maintains the talent pool.
3. Talent audit:
A talent audit identifies those with potential and provides the basis for career planning and development, ensuring that talented people have the sequence of experience supplemented by coaching and learning programmes that will fit them to carry out more demanding roles in the future. Talent audits can also be used to indicate the possible dangers of talented people leaving (risk analysis) and what action may need to be taken to retain them.
4. Role development:
Talent management is concerned with the roles people carry out. This involves role development- ensuring that roles provide the responsibility, challenge an autonomy required to create role engagement and motivation. It also involves taking steps to ensure that people have the opportunity and are given the encouragement to learn and develop in their roles. Talent management policies also focus on role flexibility- giving people the chance to develop their roles by making better and extended use of their talents.
5. Talent relationship management:
Talent relationship management is the process of building effective relationships with people in their roles. It is concerned generally with creating a great place to work but giving them a voice and providing opportunities for growth. The aim is to achieve talent engagement ensuring that people are committed to their work and the organization. As Sears (2003) points out, “It is better to build an existing relationship rather than try to create a new one when someone leaves.”
6. Performance management:
Performance management processes provide a means of building relationships with people, identifying talent and potential, planning, learning and development activities and making the most of the talent possessed by the organization. Line managers can be asked to carry out separate ‘risk analysis’ for any key staff to assess the likely hood of their leaving. Properly carried out performance management is a means of increasing the engagement and motivation of people by providing positive feedback and recognition. This is part of a total reward system.
7. Total reward:
Total reward strategies provide for both financial and non-financial rewards, can contribute to the engagement and commitment of talented people by demonstrating that they are devalued for their contribution and by operating fairly and consistently. Paying competitive rates will affect the ability of organizations to attract and retain people but there is a limit to the extent to which companies can compete with the ‘pull of the market’ as Cappelin (2000) points out. Retention or loyalty bonuses (golden handcuffs) are used by some companies but again, as stressed by Cappelin, there is limit to their effectiveness as bribes. If talented people want to go they will go.
Learning and development policies and programmers are essential components in the process of developing talent – ensuring that people acquire and enhance the skills and competencies they need. Policies should be formulated by reference to employees’ success profiles which are described in terms of competencies and define the qualities that need to be developed. Employee success profiles can be incorporated in role profiles.
Learning and development activates are also important means of developing managers and gaining the engagement and commitment of talented staff by giving them opportunities to grow in their present roles and to progress to higher level roles.
8. Career management:
Career management consists of the processes of career planning and management succession. Career planning shapes the progression of individuals within an organization in accordance with assessments of organization needs, defined employee success profiles and the performance, potential and preferences of individual members of the enterprises.
Management succession planning takes place to ensure that, as far as possible, the organization has the managers it requires to meet future business needs.
9. Creating Best Place to Work
Ensuring that the organization is perceived as being ‘a great place to work’ means that it becomes an ‘employer of choice’ i.e. one for whom people want to work. There is desire to join the organization and once that is fulfilled, a desire to stay. Employees are committed to the organization and engaged in the work they do. To acquire a national, even a local reputation as a good employer, it takes time. But it is worth the effort.
On the basis of their longitudinal research in 12 companies, Purcell et al (2003) concluded that:
“What seems to be happening is that successful firms are able to meet people’s needs both for a good job and to work in a great place. They create good work and a conducive working environment. In this way, they become an employer of choice. People will want to work there because their individual needs are met- for a good job with prospects linked to training appraisal, and working with a good boss who listens and gives some autonomy but helps with coaching and guidance.”
Creating a great place to work starts with developing the image of the organization so that it is recognized as one that achieves results, delivers quality products and services, behaves ethically and provides good conditions of employment. Organizations with a clear vision and a set of integrate and enacted values are likely to project themselves as being well worth working for.