What is Talent Management? Definition, Strategy, Process and Models
Prarthana Ghosh, Copy Editor, Spiceworks
Talent management practices have evolved over the years to cater to people-specific trends much like all other aspects of work, and have changed in fast strides over the last few years. Strategic talent management is a necessity in today’s hyper-change environment. Global trends in talent and human capital management have led to a renaissance of the work-worker-workplace equation.
What is Talent Management?
Talent management is defined as the methodically organized, strategic process of getting the right talent onboard and helping them grow to their optimal capabilities keeping organizational objectives in mind.
The process thus involves identifying talent gaps and vacant positions, sourcing for and onboarding the suitable candidates, growing them within the system and developing needed skills, training for expertise with a future-focus and effectively engaging, retaining and motivating them to achieve long-term business goals. The definition brings to light the overarching nature of talent management – how it permeates all aspects pertaining to the human resources at work while ensuring that the organization attains its objectives. It is thus the process of getting the right people onboard and enabling them to enable the business at large.
Under the umbrella of talent management, there are a string of elements and sub-processes that need to work in unison to ensure the success of the organization. For example, analyzing the right talent gaps for the present and the future, identifying the right talent pools and best-fit candidates, getting them to join and then optimizing their existing skills and strengths while helping them grow are touch-points that are all equally important. They support each other and the whole structure would crumble even if one sub-process fell out of sync.
Talent Management Process
While often cyclical rather than a generic linear progression of events, the process of talent management could be considered, to begin with acknowledging the need for talent and leads to filling that gap and ultimately growing and optimizing the skills, traits, and expertise of employees, new and old.
The following image depicts the key points of the talent management process:
Let’s get into these key steps in the process of managing talent effectively:
1. Planning: Like in any process with a set outcome, planning is the first step in the process of talent management. It involves the following identifying where the gaps lie – the human capital requirement, formulating job descriptions for the necessary key roles to help guide sourcing and selection and developing a workforce plan for recruitment initiatives.
2. Attracting: Based on the plan, the natural next step is to decide whether the talent requirements should be filled in from within the organization or from external sources. Either way, the process would involve attracting a healthy flow of applicants. The usual external sources include job portals, social network, and referrals. The talent pools that need to be tapped into must be identified in advance to keep the process as smooth and efficient as possible. This is where the kind of employer brand that the organization has built for itself, comes into play because that decides the quality of applications that come in.
3. Selecting: This involves using a string of tests and checks to find the right match for the job – the ideal person-organization fit. Written tests, interviews, group discussions and psychometric testing along with an in-depth analysis of all available information on the candidate on public access platforms help in gauging an all-rounded picture of the person. Today there are software and AI-enabled solutions that recruiters can use to skim through a vast population of CVs to focus on the most suitable options and to find the ideal match.
4. Developing: Quite a few organizations today operate on the idea of hiring for attitude and training for skills. This makes sense because while you would want a predisposition to certain skill-sets, it is the person that you are hiring and not the CV. Developing employees to help them grow with the organization and training them for the expertise needed to contribute to business success also builds loyalty and improves employee engagement. This begins with an effective onboarding program to help the employee settle into the new role, followed by providing ample opportunities for enhancing the skills, aptitude and proficiency while also enabling growth through counseling, coaching, mentoring and job-rotation schemes.
5. Retaining: For any organization to be truly successful, sustainably, talent needs to be retained effectively. Most organizations try to retain their best talent through promotions and increments, offering opportunities for growth, encouraging involvement in special projects and decision-making, training for more evolved roles and rewards and recognition programs.
6. Transitioning: Effective talent management focuses on a collective transformation and evolution of the organization through the growth of individual employees. This involves making each employee feel that they are a part of a bigger whole. Providing retirement benefits, conducting exit interviews and effective succession planning might seem like unrelated career points but they are all transition tools that enable the shared journey.
Talent Management Model
Over the years, there have been multiple models made for talent management that have been created b organization who have felt that they have finally cracked the code on the perfect model. The thing with talent management, however, is that it needs to morph to suit the latest talent trends, digital disruptions, and employee expectations.
The following diagram is that of the integrated talent management model which appears to be the most relevant one today.
The primary components of the model are:
Acquire – Employer branding, recruitment, onboarding
Assess – Talent analytics, succession planning and assessments
Develop – Workforce planning, culture at work, engagement and retention practices
Deploy – Goal alignment, career-path planning, learning and development, and performance management
This structure of components is cyclical and goes on in a sustained loop while taking onto consideration the internal climate within the organization and the external environment in which it operates.
How can an organization ensure that this model is put to the best use?
The point to be kept in mind here is that no model of something as dynamic as talent management is written in stone. It needs to be able to adapt to the changing needs of the organization the evolving talent expectations and the pace set by changes within the industry.
Talent Management Strategy Talent management is not a mere checklist of requirements that need to be sufficed – it is a strategy that needs careful implementation, regular checks, and continual improvement. The following are the six primary talent management strategies that serve as the pillars of people functions.
1. Detailed job descriptions A well-informed, detailed job description helps the sourcer, the sourcing software, and the candidate understand the job-role better. Generic job descriptions only serve to confuse all parties involved in the talent acquisition process and lead to a wave of irrelevant applications. Information that must be a part of the job description includes the following:
Job title and location
Tools and equipment used
Salary and benefits
With these, candidates can make an informed decision on whether to apply or not and sourcers get CVs that fit the bill better.
2. Person-organization fit An employee that does not fit into the organizational culture can neither be the happiest employee nor the most sustainably productive one. While the culture can be difficult to define in words, it is prevalent in actions and quite easy to understand whether a candidate would be a good fit or not. Personal and organizational values need to have a certain degree of overlap for any employee to feel at home within the organization. Without a comfortable person-organization fit, the most amount of time, effort and energy would go into attempts at adjustment. Hiring candidate with the right P-O fit (or PE fit) thus greatly improves the chances of better employee engagement, higher employee satisfaction, and usually better performance.
3. Collaborate-coach-evolve An important strategy to make talent management more effective involves creating a culture of coaching, mentoring (even reverse mentoring) and collaboration. Constructive feedback goes a long way when it comes to helping employees evolve and develop their skills and expertise. Managing talent is thus also about preparing them for the future of the organization – to be ready for changes down the path and to be able to rely on each other.
4. Reward and recognize right The process of rewards and recognition forms an important part of the strategy to motivate, engage and manage employees better. This goes beyond financial rewards and bonus packages. Studies point towards the fact that employees often want R&R schemes that motivate them with “prizes” that are most relevant to them as individuals. This is a great opportunity for organizations to show their employees how much they care for them as persons and as integral aspects of the organizational machinery.
5. Opportunities for continuous improvement Managing talent needs to be put in the context of the future that the organization has envisioned for itself. Thus, employees need to be equipped with the right tools to be able to maximize their own potential. For the continuous improvement of the organization, there needs to be the scope and opportunities for the continuous development of its employees. Moreover, this ensures that the cumulative skills within the organization is updated, upgraded and upscaled.
Talent management involves strategically planning career paths that make sense for every employee. We all tend to work better we know where we are headed and what the next stop is for our careers. This does not entail making empty promises of promotions but rather creating a career map in discussion with the employee, making sure that they relate to it and feel that it is realistic while also providing them with all the necessary tools to make the map a reality. Having a map to follow also improves retention scores since employees then know what they have to look forward to and work towards and can then collaborate effectively to achieve it.