4 steps to a successful talent management strategy

25 October 2019
4 minute
Every organisation wants to find and keep top talent who match their company culture and drive for success, successful companies achieve this - so can you by actively managing your talent.

What is a talent management strategy?

Your people are the most important asset in achieving organisational goals, so it’s critical that they are highly engaged and consistently performing to the best of their ability – but this takes work. Linking talent management to business strategy is a two-way street: employers need to be proactive in meeting their workforce half-way by giving them the resources to succeed, and all employees (including high potential employees) need to embrace it and make the most of these tools. 

Talent management deserves as much focus as financial capital management in corporations - Jack Welch, former CEO General Electric

high potential employees at work

Why effective talent management matters?

The constant pace of change and increasing competition to recruit and retain the best talent in every business and in every sector highlights the importance of investing in a strong talent management strategy and why it should be at the top of your agenda year in, year out. 

In 2015, Jessica Cooper, a high performance research adviser for the Chartered Institute for People Development noted, 

Talent management is becoming a higher priority for CEOs with an increased focus on talent development and retention, but talent management spend seems on the whole to have stayed the same (51%). 

Aligning your talent strategy to business objectives

Knowing why you need to develop your talent is one thing, but how do you go about creating a talent management strategy? We’ve identified four key steps to give your organisation the competitive edge, from attracting, developing and managing talent to evaluating the success of the strategy. 

Step 1: Attracting the talent 

Interviewees are always advised to make a first and lasting impression, but is your company doing the same? As part of your talent development strategies, when attracting high potential external talent to your organisation, ask yourself the following questions to help you to formulate a strong plan:  

  • How do prospective candidates view your organisation? 
  • How impactful is your employer branding?
  • Is it memorable, unique and evocative? 
  • Does your company culture match the high standards of the high potential, top talent you desire? 
  • What are your existing employees saying about your company? Are they acting as strong ambassadors? Websites like Glassdoor are important for this. 

An employer brand is not created; it can only be revealed - Bryan Chaney, Employment Branding Expert at Indeed.com 

Share the story of your company culture; being transparent builds trust and ensures your employer branding is authentic. Share real employee stories to provide insight into the core values of your organisation. Utilise your careers page, social media and blogs to broadcast the message - take pride in your staff's viewpoint and the human capital perspective. 

Step 2: Developing the talent 

Talent management is a step-by-step process. When approaching talent development, you must avoid taking a passive approach and assuming your workforce will be content where they are or that they will come to you when they’re ready to develop.  
As stated earlier, there has to be proactivity on both sides but an organisation should have processes in place that encourage employee engagement and participation.  Learning and development can take many forms including:

  • Blended learning
  • On the job training 
  • Formal education courses 
  • External conferences/workshops 
  • E-learning courses 

Using Thomas assessments to profile your workforce can be useful when building an integrated talent management process, as it allows you to explore and map out the competencies, strengths, hard and soft skills and training needs of each individual. They open up opportunities for managers to modify their style to the preferences of their team members, and delegate projects that will maximise the strengths of each individual. By assigning tasks to the most appropriately skilled worker means they will be more satisfied in their role, productivity and engagement will increase, and in turn, the organisation as a whole will benefit from a happier, more productive workforce, who are more likely to want to stay and progress in the organisation. 

How to develop talent

Step 3: Managing the talent 

Effective talent management needs to align with your business goals, which will drive the quality and quantity of the talent you need. Investment in high performance management and leadership development will positively impact retention rates. The process of succession planning, in particular, helps many organisations in identifying and preparing future potential leaders to fill key positions, and ensures long-term health, growth and stability.   
Other areas to focus on when managing talent include: 

  • Team working skills 
  • Communication skills 
  • Change management 
  • Conflict management 
  • Emotional intelligence 

Step 4: Evaluating the talent strategy

It is critical to identify the short and medium term outcomes in order to provide useful early information about the effectiveness of the talent management strategy and enable mid-course corrections - Scott & Mattson, Strategy-driven Talent Management: A Leadership Imperative 

Stepping back and reviewing the effectiveness and impact talent management has on your organisation requires both quantitative and qualitative data, that is reliable, valid and robust; it is necessary to ensure the investment is meeting organisational needs. 

Focus on analysing retention rates, engagement survey results, employees 360 results and review 1-1 forms. Use this data to understand where there has been success for both individuals and teams and where there could be improvement with the talent strategy; a talent management strategy, like your company and especially your people, is continually evolving and needs regular and structured monitoring. 

An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage - Jack Welch, Former CEO General Electric 

Talent Management Strategy Example

Johnsons Workwear employ 2,300 staff across 17 sites and deliver their workwear services to over 36,000 customers throughout the UK. 

In 2017, the company had ambitious plans for sustained business growth and to do so, they recognised that nurturing a pool of talent was critical to this. As attracting top talent into the world of industrial laundry was challenging (and costly), they began a talent management programme (Johnsons Academy) designed to identify the 12 candidates with the highest potential within the business.

Through the use of the Thomas behavioural assessment (PPA) and the personality assessment (HPTI), which is also used to identify high potential traits, the company had the foundations to help them in building and creating their talent management strategy.

This project was a huge success, with over 70% of the 2017 academy graduates receiving a promotion within 18 months of completion.

We truly believe our people are our greatest asset. That's why we created the Johnsons Academy, to encourage the talent within the business and the help our rising starts to develop - Peter Egan, CEO Johnsons Workwear

Read the full case study here 

So how can Thomas help you to enhance and engage the talent you’ve worked hard to bring into your business?

A one size fits all approach will ultimately not lead to long-term success. Each employee needs to be valued as an individual. We have a range of tools and talent management assessments which will allow you to better understand and subsequently develop all employees including your top performers. 

Our training incorporates core product certification and specific focus modules to help you develop and maximise the performance of your people, teams and cultures. 

Resources by type

See how our tools and assessments have helped thousands of businesses around the globe, across a range of different use-cases
With a wealth of content on offer across a range of relevant topics and themes, our aim is to assist businesses of all sizes through their people challenges
A selection of comprehensive and authoritative guides across popular themes including recruitment, leadership, succession planning and more
We have a wealth of webinars covering real-life success stories to best practise use of our solutions with renowned industry speakers, Thomas employees and more
Our insightful whitepapers cover a range of different topics with expert opinions from industry-leading sources
Keep in touch with the latest company updates, product launches and other developments for Thomas International and its global partner network