Not so long ago, many organisations compiled confidential lists of their “Top Managers” or “High Potentials”.  People on the lists didn’t know that they had been ear marked for future greatness and the process was cloaked in secrecy.


However, the pressures of globalisation and ageing workforces have changed all this with many organisations pointing to talent management as being a top priority and implementing highly visible talent management processes and programmes.


This is supported by a survey from the Boston Consulting Group and European Association for Personnel Management which highlighted that talent management is currently the most critical challenge for HR.


The survey identified that talent shortages loom, particularly in Europe and that companies need to take steps now if they are to address these shortages in the future.


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


  1. It is owned by the senior executives in the organisation. If the Board is not fully involved and committed to it, it won’t work.
  2. It has a clear “profile” of the skills, experiences and attributes that are needed to deliver the organisations strategy.
  3. 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”.
  4. It has sophisticated recruitment, selection and succession planning processes to deliver the right people for the organisation.
  5. It provides a range of stretching development opportunities to enable talent to develop the necessary skills, experiences and capabilities.
  6. 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.
  7. It uses appropriate metrics to measure effectiveness.


Talent management is a key challenge for organisations and their HR functions.  However, it is a challenge that needs to be addressed if organisations are to maintain their success in the future.