The Various Stages Of So-Called ‘Talent Management’
It is argued that the main differentiator between successful companies and failing ones is the crop of talent that leads them.
The changing environment of business has prompted worries about talent shortages and getting talent into the right place, and specifically that talent management is of strategic importance and can differentiate a business when it becomes a core competence – and when its talent significantly improve strategy execution and operational excellence. (however is this the truth though?)
Three things are important;
- Identifying the talent,
- Developing it, and
- Retaining it.
The first stage in keeping talent is attracting it in the first place. To this end, companies have to position themselves as a good employer, but provide an excellent place to work and develop an employee’s career (very proper). This includes the notion of ‘employer branding’, which is the process of managing the organisations reputation and image as a great employer in the eyes of potential recruits. Talent management frameworks do not just treat advertising for staff as a one way process, where the company selects from a pool of applicants, but sees it as a two-way process whereby talented people also consider carefully who they work for. Organisations discuss how the potential applicants react to ‘signals’ from the recruiting organisation which is send out during its application process, and varies at all levels within the organisation.
Selection is arguably distinct from attraction in that this is where the company begins to identify ‘talent’ from within the pool of people who have applied, others argue that attraction and selection are indistinguishable. I believe that there is a REAL lack of evidence on how recruiters manage the selection process, and how that impacts upon retention rates and general business outcomes. The challenge is how to select talent, rather than just identify competent employees and of course this varies depending on the level of the job being recruited for.
Development of talent is much more focused on individuals and personal development. Similar to attraction and selection, it is a two-way process; talented staff will have demands about what development they need for their career, they will not accept a one-size-fits-all approach. Thus, within the talent management framework, development strategies will often be highly personalised, involving outside organisations, for training and learning whilst focusing on skill building (in many cases) for employees. Onboarding is a key process as part of the talent induction into a new job, it is developed as a technical part of organisational learning through ‘getting to know’ the values and philosophies of an organisation.
Talent management can be positioned as being about more than ministering a set of simple factors, and more about developing an engaging culture within an organisation and designing a strategy based around the values that the business wants to project and one that matters to employees. Do you believe that this is more important in the long term for employees than simple things such as pay ?
If the recruiting organisation can attract, select, develop and engage its top talent, it should not find itself losing key talent to competing organisations; retention should become a self-fulfilling prophecy that builds up talent. The difficulty in analysing retention is difficult, partly because it is sometimes a subjective distinction between retention and attrition, and partly because it can only be measured over long periods of time.
Other approaches to talent management
There have been many that claim that talent development and retention is the new frontier of competitive advantage, and retention of key employees is the defining factor for commercial success; as a result of this, attention has been given to the most effective strategies to do this. Yet, underlying this is the suggestion that the importance of talent management to retention works better in a globalised workplace.
Factors such as rates of pay, the type and amount of training provided, the speed and visibility of promotion, the working conditions and access to mentors and senior leaders are all postulated as being critical components; but there is limited ability to explain why and how these factors impact upon retention.
As an example of this, successful talent management and retention strategies are vital for succession planning it is said. However using talent management as a way of managing succession planning brings the idea of retention into focus; it is using talent management as a way of retaining the best talent to take over the lead of the organisation in the future, rather than simply keeping talent for an ill-defined idea of competitive advantage…
I do not fully say that existing talent management is either wrong or misdirected with its topics on attraction, selection, development, engagement and retention, yet I do believe that it needs to be extended and supported instead of HR professionals just following the ‘guru’s’ and HR institutes.
The idea that talent management as a framework genuinely offers strategic and operational benefits to organisations of all kinds is probably true (have you seen evidence of this, though?).
I equally believe that these benefits will only come to fruition if both organisations and people professionals can successfully marry the conceptual underpinnings of talent management with widely applicable, practical methodologies for its use.
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