Talent Management - A Complete Guide

1 October 2021
11 minute
Talent Management A Complete Guide

What is the most valuable asset in a business? Whilst many would say technology the reality is, talent - people - is arguably the most valuable asset. 

You could have three businesses set up and structured the same way, with the same amount of staff and the same technology to help them, but the most varying factor which would account for the success or failure of the businesses is going to be, talent. The business which manages to attract and retain the best talent will ultimately succeed.

Of course, business is more complicated and varied than that but the basic logic works.

Knowing how to effectively manage talent is a critical aspect of business success, and in the scenario above, retaining the best talent is going to be down to how well you can do this.

In this guide you are going to learn more about what talent management is, the benefits of talent management and how to put together a talent management strategy.

What is talent management? 

The easiest way to explain talent management is, finding, hiring and developing a candidate in order to achieve long term business goals. It is a process that every business undergoes that is related to the whole HR process of long term career development and staff retention.

Talent management addresses the key aspects of HR management including:

  • Attracting new talent (recruitment)

Are you going to hire someone new from within your company or go to an external resource and use things like job portals and social media to help find your new talent?

  • Selecting the right talent

How are you going to assess talent? Using assessment tools, scheduling interviews and scrutinising the talent pool presented in this phase.

  • Developing talent

You have selected the person you believe fits the role. Now it’s about developing the candidate. They are ready to be onboarded and go through an orientation process. They can be developed on their skillbase and can grow within the organisation through mentoring, coaching, educating and moving across the organisation in different roles.

  • Retaining talented employees

You want to keep the best talent in your business and there are several ways to do so including: promotions and increments, providing opportunities for growth by handing over special projects, participative decision making and Identifying the individual’s contribution and efforts.

  • Motivating talented employee

Part of the retention process is about how well motivated the employee is. Are they being challenged enough? Do they want to move up or get better pay? Are they in a position to show more of their abilities? Do they need more training to keep them active and engaged?

  • Transitioning the talent

The idea of talent management is to enable the overall transformation of the employees to achieve the organisational vision. It can be done through:

  • Retirement benefits
  • Succession planning
  • Internal promotions
  • Conducting exit interviews

The talent management process is the method in which these all come together.

Benefits of talent management

Of course, undergoing a talent management drive in your business means that there has to be benefits or else, what would be the point. Here are just some of the associated benefits of developing a talent management process in your organisation.

  • Improved recruitment (finding and hiring the most talented candidates)

Recruitment is undergoing significant changes and challenges, it’s also getting harder to recruit the best and the right people for your organisation. Processes and technology that help with workforce planning, sourcing, applicant tracking and analytics are important to an agile recruiting process. The last thing you want to experience is the best candidates not being contacted, or a lapse in human error for not finding and selecting the right candidates. Talent management is designed to use the right tools and processes to help in improving recruitment.

  • Organisation’s brand becomes synonymous with highly talented staff

The overall result of a better recruitment process is you build a brand that is known for having the best people or most highly talented staff. This can only reap positive results for your organisation.

  • Candidates recognise opportunities for advancement

Talent management processes make it easier for employees to track goals and match their ambitions with the right opportunities to advance their careers. This helps employees remain motivated and gives the organisation the visibility to tie together training and development opportunities with performance goals of each employee.

  • Onboarding of new employees is faster

With the right practices in place, it becomes easier for new employees to be integrated into the organisation and equally that they are aligned with company goals and strategies. This also means that it takes less time for people to become fully productive members of the team and improve overall performance and retention.

  • Employee retention is increased

It’s important to have as minimal employee turnover as possible - it costs too much money, can cause tension in the workplace and even lead to more people leaving if the rate of turnover increases. A good talent management system will help collect data and identify what is causing employee attrition for instance, turnover by manager, demographic trends and more.

  • Employee performance is boosted

Naturally, with a better process of managing people, you can improve performance considerably. Companies with great experiences outperform the S&P 500 by 122%, and those with highly engaged workforces have 21% higher profits than those with poor engagement.

  • Productivity is enhanced

The quicker you can onboard a new employee, the quicker you can improve productivity. It means that the talent management process works as both an efficiency tool as well as a strategy to develop overall business success.

  • Employees develop career paths within the organisation

Talent management is also about coupling skills with availability in the workplace, in this scenario, employees get to develop their career within the organisation and move into roles that suit their needs as well as those that suit the needs of the business.

  • Talent management processes provide motivation

To round all of this off, satisfied employees are more committed to the company and spread motivation and enthusiasm to those around them. Maximising the motivation of the best talents in the business is a win win scenario for everyone and builds business success.

In order to benefit from effective talent management, you need a talent management strategy.

Talent management strategy

A talent management strategy is the plan of action designed to optimise employee performance in order to achieve desired goals. Put another way, a talent management strategy should make everyone happier, perform better and achieve the goals set out.

It sounds easy, but, in order to create a good talent management strategy you need to align your company’s overall strategy and goals, define leadership criteria, and cultivate growth.

Any talent management strategy should aim to:

  • Get people up to speed more quickly
  • Identify skills and training needs
  • Provide training to fill gaps
  • Engage talented new employees
  • Encourage staff retention

If you’re looking to create your own talent management strategy, we have some top tips that are going to help you structure your unique approach.

Define the organisation’s goals, objectives and priorities

What are the goals, objectives and priorities that your organisation is interested in achieving? You should list and prioritise these objectives in order to give you a clear picture of what you want your organisation to achieve and what those timescales look like. Consider the short and long term future for example. Are you going to launch a product or service in the next 3 months or 18 months? Are you entering a new market or an established one?

At this stage of the talent management process, identification of strategic priorities is an essential foundation stage in the strategy design process.

Identify challenges

Once you’ve established your strategic direction, think about what you will need to do to drive your objectives forward and what the barriers and challenges might stop you from achieving your goals.

Conducting something like a SWOT or PEST analysis can give you clear ideas around the organisation's ability to deal with challenges that may or may not arise. What can you, as an organisation do to overcome these, or work around potential blockages?

Identify what’s needed

For example, what if one of the major challenges was a skills gap? Is it a local or wider issue? Do you need to consider offering a relocation package or other incentives to potential recruits?

In identifying challenges, what are the risks to the strategic objectives associated with these identified blockages and hurdles? Being able to clearly answer these questions will leave you better prepared for any potential challenges. 

What you want to do is understand how you can mitigate the associated risks and equally, convert business goals into talent goals - using the right people, technology and processes to overcome challenges and achieve objectives.

Define HR priorities

Fundamentally, your HR priorities should be aligned to your business goals. Does the talent already exist in my organisation or do I need to go out and find the right people in order to achieve what is required?

Think about the information you already have about your teams. What their skillset looks like and what gaps - identified in a SWOT analysis is showing. Will you need additional human resources? Are changes to existing job roles required? Do you need to consider changes to working patterns or processes?

Also, is there a way you can develop existing talent to fulfill these needs? Do you really need to spend money finding the right people or do you already have them but are being used poorly in the organisation? 

Develop talent to fulfil needs

As mentioned above, developing talent already within the organisation can be one of the best solutions your organisation can make. Why? For several reasons, developing existing talent can be cheaper than going through a whole search and selection process.

It also doesn’t require as much onboarding time which means productivity doesn’t get affected, and can remain at the same current levels for a transitional period. The current employee also knows the organisation and the culture, they will have a better understanding of what is required of them. 

However, you shouldn’t discount training to new employees either. They may have been recruited for one role but could be perfectly suitable for another. You would need to develop that talent as much as someone who is making a sideways move within the organisation.

It’s important to understand that talent development is an ongoing aspect of effective talent management.

Recruit talent to fill gaps

However, developing staff internally may not be an option, and this is where you need to develop your talent recruitment process. Consider the following:

  • What kind of candidate am I looking for?
  • What are the business objectives over the next 12-24 months?
  • What are the essential skills required for this role?
  • How do we attract the top talent?

This should be the first stage. The result is that the talent management process is designed to:

  • Improve the candidate pool
  • Strengthen the employee brand
  • Involve current employees
  • Offer the best pay and best benefits

Naturally, it goes without saying that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist, but very good and very talented individuals do. If they don’t have the specific skills required, they might be recruited and developed as part of the wider organisational plan.

Measure and assess

Finally, you need to assess whether the current talent management process is working or not. Are you hitting the right objectives? How are you going to track just how effective all of this work is and what commitments can you make to stakeholders about the talent management strategy that has been put in place?

Firstly, you need to continuously look at the strategy as an ongoing process. Check in regularly with HR and senior management about what is happening and what is working or not working.

To do this, you need to have a clear understanding of what success looks like and how it can be measured within the organisation. Is it better staff engagement and low turnover? Is it more to do with financial results? 

SMART objectives and KPIs are your starting point in this area. What did you set out to achieve by creating a talent strategy? What has changed? 

Finally, continuously re-assess talent development needs and provide what’s needed to stay on track and achieve strategic goals. This could be more training, it could be better communication with staff and so on.

In summary

Talent management is, finding, hiring and developing a candidate in order to achieve long term business goals. From improving recruitment to developing successful teams and even bettering the career paths of those involved in the business, talent management is designed to identify gaps, opportunities and see the successful completion of the employment cycle for every individual that goes through it. 

Check out our resources today to find out how Thomas International can support your business with your talent management and high-potential trait development objectives. We offer global solutions for every step of the talent management process including recruitment, development, retention and training.

Get in touch with us today to discover how we can support you to recruit, retain and develop the right people for your business.

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