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Understanding Talent Management

Talent Management

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Section 1

Understanding Talent Management

If you Google “definition of talent management” you’ll find 903,000 results. So put simply, our definition of Talent Management is:

A systemic approach to selecting, managing, developing and retaining individuals who make your organisation successful and can lead your organisation into the future.

In reading that definition, hopefully you will see that your organisation already undertakes the different elements of talent management. Hopefully you can agree that your organisation does select, does manage, does develop and does retain its employees.  However what you might not have is a strategic and systemic approach to undertaking talent management that really shines a light on your best employees. You might not have an approach for considering business critical posts and planning for how they will be succeeded or replaced. This is what talent management aspires to do. To protect your organisation by identifying the shining lights in your organisation that can lead it into the future.

“The business case for taking a strategic approach to talent management is strong and persuasive. CEOs as well as HR directors are now likely to number talent management among their key priorities. Our research demonstrates that the forces driving the increased interest in talent encompass a potent mix of external supply issues and internal organisational demands such as increasingly competitive global markets, skills shortages, demographic trends and corporate governance and business strategy.

“In order for organisations to gain competitive advantage, they need to develop a strategic approach to talent management that suits their business and gets the best from their people. The value of a tailored, organisation-wide talent management strategy is that it provides a focus for investment in human capital and places the subject high on the corporate agenda”.

- The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, 2014

What is involved in doing talent management?

Based on our definition of talent management, we believe there are four duties that organisations have to play when undertaking Talent Management.

Organisations have to be; Talent Seekers, Talent Developers, Talent Conductors and Talent Keepers. 

Below are some ideas on what each of those four duties includes. You can click on each word and it will take you to a source that will help you think more about the suggestions listed below.

Talent KeeperTalent SeekerTalent ConductorTalent Developer

Staff surveys & culture
Reward & recognition
Organisational Memory
Managing exits
Alumni - keeping in contact

Employer brand
Recruitment processes
Values based recruitment
Talent champions

Performance management
Succession planning
Conversations Tools / 9 
Box Grid
Talent Forums

Job design
Career Pathways
Mentoring / Coaching
Leadership / Professional development
Equal opportunities / inclusion
Role models

Talent Seeker

This duty aims to bring the best talent into the organisation. So what is your employer brand, do you have one? How do you make yourself stand out as an employer of choice over other organisations in your area? Have you considered your recruitment processes? Are they innovative and use mixed methods? How do you ensure that panels are diverse and representative of the workforce? Have you embedded Values Based Recruitment yet? How do you know that your employees embody the values of your organisation and of the NHS? Finally who champions talent in your organisation? Is there an elected board member that monitors and raises the profile for talent management in your organisation?

Talent Developer

The aim of this duty is to consider how you will develop your talent above and beyond the normal essential training or role specific development opportunities. So do you regularly promote or share stretch opportunities or job rotations to broaden your employees skill set and knowledge of your business. Do you have career pathways, can your staff see how they can progress in your organisation- and if not in your own organisation, how you will keep them motivated and engaged while they are with you? Do you offer coaching and mentoring to staff or leadership development to help them learn more about themselves and their impact on others? Do you shine a light on your organisational role models and how the demonstrate the values and behaviours you wish to see in your organisation? 

Talent Conductor

This duty is where specific talent management interventions are carried out. So do you have a formal process for managing talent? Do you rate your employees against performance, values and behaviours and do you look for opportunities to develop and showcase those who perform well? Do you performance manage employees who are not performing as required in their role? Does your organisation have forums where the board or other senior management teams review the outcomes of your talent process to consider systemic succession/talent planning? 

Talent Keeper

In this duty the organisation works to keep hold of its Talent, or should employees deicide to leave, the organisation manages exits in a positive and supportive manner. So do you regularly survey what is going on in your organisation in terms of staff engagement? If people leave, do you have a conversation with them about why they are going and what you can do to learn from it? How do you reward and recognise the talents and achievements of your staff? How do you retain knowledge in the organisation when people leave- how do they handover their organisational memory? How do you keep in touch with staff who have moved on and promote your organisation as a place they might want to return to with their new found skills and experience? 

Prompting your thinking

We recognise that there are lots of questions that have been posed to you here. Hopefully some of them you can answer and some will offer fresh thinking for you. In the next section of the toolkit, we will explore how to promote talent management and understand why answering all these questions makes good sense for your organisation.