The debate around talent management probably began about 20 years ago when a number of high profile businesses claimed the importance of finding high quality talented individuals for their organisations.

Since then the concept of talent management has evolved from being simply focussed on recruitment to cover a wide range of people management activities such as performance management, personal development and succession planning.

However, does talent management simply pander to those with large egos or is their some substance behind the approach?

The business case for taking a formal approach to managing talent is fairly persuasive.  For example, with declining birth rates across the UK and Europe, there is likely to be a big shortage of people to replace current management roles within the next 20 years.  To protect themselves, organisations must therefore have a clear strategy of finding and developing talented replacements for their key managers.  Those that fail to do this will ultimately not survive.

Talent management therefore needs to be seen in a broad business context.  It has to involve the attraction, identification, development, and retention of those individuals who have a high potential and are of a particular value to the organisation.  After all there is no point in recruiting a rising star if they quickly become disenfranchised with the organisation and leave.

But what are the characteristics of a successful talent management strategy?

  • Firstly it must be ‘owned’ by the senior executives in the organisation. If the Board is not fully involved and committed to it, it won’t work.
  • The talent management strategy contains a clear “profile” of the skills, experiences and attributes that are needed to deliver the organisation’s strategy.
  • It is visible and consistent.There must be visibility across the process (i.e. no secret lists!) and the process must eliminate as much as possible different manager’s ideas of “talent”.
  • It has sophisticated recruitment, selection and succession planning processes to deliver the right people for the organisation.
  • It provides a range of stretching development opportunities to enable talent to develop the necessary skills, experiences and capabilities.
  • It identifies and raises talent related issues so that they can be dealt with appropriately.For example when a talented individual becomes disillusioned with the organisation, or is not fulfilling their potential the organisation resolves it quickly.
  • It uses appropriate metrics to measure effectiveness.

Talent management is not simply a process for pandering to those with huge egos.  It is a key part of an organisation’s strategy – after all it will be those with potential now that will be delivering the organisation’s success in the future.