What Is Talent Management?

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For any company, their most important resource at any given time are its talent:  leaders, managers, and employees. Great companies recognize this fact, and they dedicate countless hours on the concept of finding, retaining and rewarding their employees, also known as talent management.  Talent management has grown in popularity among companies in recent years and has taken center stage, whereas in the past it was oftentimes just an ancillary function of HR departments of yesteryear. When properly planned out, talent management affords a company stable long-term planning for its key positions while also creating succession plans that allow the business to continue running smoothly as employees come and go.  Let’s talk about how to best manage your talent for success.


Clearly Define and Identify Value Among Talent


It’s important to know how your talent is performing so that your leaders and managers can focus on developing the right people.  No matter a company’s size, its talent will fall into three buckets:

  • High-performers:  key members of the organization that find new areas of opportunity and drive strategic planning for the future

  • Daily-performers:  talent that perform their job well, and in time, can become high-performers

  • Under-performers:  talent that does not meet their job’s minimum output


While different roles will have vastly different criteria determining their individual performance, every role will fall into one of these categories.  Take time to build evaluation forms that can create a standardized measuring stick across multiple departments to help make this process objective instead of subjective.  Examples of some common benchmarks that apply to any role include:

  • Consistently meeting deadlines

  • Error rate

  • Working well with others

  • Strategic thinking


Create A Plan


Once the measurement and evaluation criteria has been created, it’s time to work with leadership and management to review all talent in the company.  There are three key areas to focus on:

  • Top talent retention:  after identifying who the high-performers are in an organization, the next step is to plan out how to ensure they stay for the company’s future.  Create highly incentivized plans based on the company’s growth so that they can see the company’s future is tied to their own. Their in-house subject matter expertise makes them highly valuable talent that cannot be easily replaced, so reward them commensurately.

  • Succession:  this topic can oftentimes be the elephant in the room, but a company will be better served planning for what can often feel like the worst-case scenario rather than just being caught unaware by an unlikely resignation.  Evaluate what would happen for every role in the company if the talent moves on. Who would gap their workload? Is this a temporary or permanent solution? If it’s a leader or manager, is there an internal candidate that could be groomed into the role?  Asking these questions will reveal where the business is most at risk by a sudden departure, and it can lead to proactive solutions before the worst case scenario happens.

  • Promotion:  promotions should be thoughtful, planned out rewards for high- and daily-performers.  Companies oftentimes make the mistake of promoting based on knee-jerk reactions or an employee’s demands.  Instead, every manager should be trained on how to create a promotion plan. The plan should have goals and benchmarks that the employee needs to reach in order to be promoted, and the plan should be clearly communicated by the manager so that both parties are in agreement.  


Build Out The Right Processes


Once the evaluations are done and the plan has been built, Human Resources (People and Culture teams)  should begin training leadership and managers on how to evaluate, retain, and promote their talent.  Cross-department meetings are a great opportunity to not just train multiple leaders and managers at once, but to also ensure that different departments are acting cohesively when it comes to talent management.  Over time, talent planning will become an ongoing process that will make growth opportunities at the company more transparent not just to your current talent, but also to potential job candidates outside the organization.  

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