Article Home Read Articles


Talent Management professionals like us need good information and insight. It's the basis of good decision making and risk management.


IT TAKES Talent to spot Talent! A tone deaf will never be able to appreciate the music of maestros. Only a seasoned jeweller would know that all that glitters is not real! And, only those who can recognize the worth of a diamond can value it, for others it's just a stone! Talent is doing easily what others find difficult.

In an organization, there is nothing more crucial than fitting the right employee in the right position. Or else you would be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. When people do jobs that just don't suit their liking, inclination or temperament, the results, or rather the lack of them, will be disastrously obvious. Low productivity, dissatisfaction, low morale, absenteeism and other negative behaviour will become typical till the employee is shown the door. Or perhaps, there is another option - Talent Management.


Talent Management : A conscious, deliberate approach undertaken to attract, develop and retain people with the aptitude and abilities to meet current and future organizational needs.

Talent management involves individual and organizational development in response to a changing and complex operating environment. It includes the creation and maintenance of a supportive, people oriented organization culture.


Talent management implies recognizing a person's inherent skills, traits, personality and offering him a matching job. Every person has a unique talent that suits a particular job profile and any other position will cause discomfort.

It is the job of the Management, particularly the HR Department, to place candidates with prudence and caution. A wrong fit will result in further hiring, re-training and other wasteful activities.

No matter how inspiring the Leaders are, they are only as effective as their team. A team's output is healthy only if the members are in sync. To achieve such harmony, the key ingredient is "putting the right people in the right jobs".

While there is no magic formula to manage talent, the trick is to locate it and encourage it.

Talent Management is beneficial to both the organization and the employees. The organization benefits from: Increased productivity and capability; a better linkage between individuals' efforts and business goals; commitment of valued employees; reduced turnover; increased bench strength and a better fit between people's jobs and skills. Employees benefit from: Higher motivation and commitment; career development; increased knowledge about and contribution to company goals; sustained motivation and job satisfaction.


So, how does an organization effectively manage talent?

Recognise talent: Notice what do employees do in their free time and find out their interests. Try to discover their strengths and interests. Also, encourage them to discover their own latent talents. For instance, if an employee in the operations department convincingly explains why he thinks he's right even when he's wrong, consider moving him to sales!

Attracting Talent: Good companies create a strong brand identity with their customers and then deliver on that promise. Great employment brands do the same, with quantifiable and qualitative results. As a result, the right people choose to join the organisation.

Selecting Talent: Management should implement proven talent selection systems and tools to create profiles of the right people based on the competencies of high performers. It's not simply a matter of finding the "best and the brightest," it's about creating the right fit - both for today and tomorrow.

Retaining Talent: In the current climate of change, it's critical to hold onto the key people. These are the people who will lead the organisation to future success, and you can't afford to lose them.

The cost of replacing a valued employee is enormous. Organizations need to promote diversity and design strategies to retain people, reward high performance and provide opportunities for development.

Managing Succession: Effective organisations anticipate the leadership and talent requirement to succeed in the future. Leaders understand that it's critical to strengthen their talent pool through succession planning, professional development, job rotation and workforce planning. They need to identify potential talent and groom it.

Change Organisation Culture: Ask yourself, "Why would a talented person choose to work here?" If the organisation wishes to substantially strengthen its talent pool, it should be prepared to change things as fundamental as the business strategy, the organisation structure, the culture and even the calibre of leaders in the organisation.

A rightly managed talent turns out to be a Gold Mine. It's inexhaustible and priceless. It will keep supplying wealth and value to the organisation.

In turn, Management needs to realise its worth, extract it, polish it and utilise it. Don't hoard Talent- spend it lavishly, like a millionaire flashing his luxuries, because Talent is Wealth!

Importance of Talent Management

Like human capital, Talent Management is gaining increased attention.

Talent management (TM) brings together a number of important human resources (HR) and management initiatives.

Organisations that formally decide to "manage their talent" undertake a strategic analysis of their current HR processes. This is to ensure that a co-ordinated, performance oriented approach is adopted.

Quite often, organisations adopting a TM approach will focus on co-ordinating and integrating:

  • Recruitment - ensuring the right people are attracted to the organisation.
  • Retention - developing and implementing practices that reward and support employees.
  • Employee development - ensuring continuous informal and formal learning and development.
  • Leadership and "high potential employee" development - specific development programs for existing and future leaders.
  • Performance management - specific processes that nurture and support performance, including feedback/measurement.
  • Workforce planning - planning for business and general changes, including the older workforce and current/future skills shortages.
  • Culture - development of a positive, progressive and high performance "way of operating".

An important step is to identify the staff or employees (people and positions) that are critical to the organisation. They do not necessarily have to be senior staff members. Many organisations lost a lot of "organisational knowledge" in the downsizing exercises of a few years ago. The impact of the loss was not immediately apparent. However, it did not take long for many companies to realize their mistake when they did not have people with the knowledge and skills to either anticipate or solve problems that arose.

The current discussions about skill shortages and the ageing population are also helping organisations to focus on the talent management issue. It may not be possible to simply go out and recruit new people to meet operational needs. Many leading companies have decided to develop their own people, rather than trying to hire fully skilled workers.

In summary, every organisation should be implementing talent management principles and approaches.


Seven Talent Management practices that matter

Competing in a "flat world", a term popularized by columnist Tom Friedman, requires (well) rounded people. Becoming a well rounded talent requires continuous learning and development of knowledge and skills. Organizations that want to succeed in flat world competition better be creating enriching workplace experiences if they wish to attract and retain the high-caliber talent they need.

How can you create an enriching workplace? It isn't easy and doesn't happen overnight. But with some planning, a lot of persistence and adept execution of seven key practices, any organization can create an enriching workplace.

1. Job Stretch and Mobility

Feel like you're stuck in a box at work? If you do you've got plenty of company. Many organizations define jobs narrowly and allow little or no movement across organizational boundaries or even within them. But to grow, talented people need to be constantly challenged and stretched. This means the ability to take risks, to try new things, and yes, even to fail - whether by doing something differently in an existing job or tackling an entirely new one. If experience is indeed the best teacher how much are we learning if what we do rarely changes?

SEI Investments, a leading global provider of outsourced investment business solutions, has created an environment that provides continual challenge to staff and enables them to regularly move around the organization and to frequently take on new tasks and responsibilities.

2. Mentoring Not Just Managing

Nothing speeds up the transfer of knowledge and know-how or enhances individual development more than a quality one-to-one dialogue between an experienced person and an up-and-comer.

W.L. Gore, creator of Gore-Tex fabrics, is a mentoring-intensive organization. Managers are called "Sponsors" and act as advocates for their assigned staff. They commit to being knowledgeable about their activities, well being, progress, accomplishments, personal concerns and ambitions. Each associate has at least one sponsor and some have more than one.

3. Freedom and Stimulation

Often the environment in which people work can make a huge difference to the speed and quality of people development. Two ingredients essential to making a workplace conducive to learning are stimulation - through frequent exposure to a wide variety people and ideas and the freedom to explore and pursue individual ideas and passions.

Google is a nirvana for the best and brightest technical talent in the world. The company's commitment to human capital is strong and was a core principle expressed in its now famous IPO filing in 2004. Staff are given huge amounts of freedom to determine when, where, how and on what they work. Each is allowed to spend 20% of their time each week working on personally initiated projects.

4. Deep Immersion

Nothing frustrates talented people, particularly young up-and-comers, more than being asked to wait their turn before getting the opportunity to contribute to important projects or initiatives. This is not only demotivating to people but counter-productive to performance as opportunities to contribute depend more on tenure and pecking order than merit.

Trilogy, a software company based in Austin Texas not only avoids this problem, but has created a fast- track, merit-based process that starts with every new hire. Its induction program is on steroids - goals are not only cultural induction, bonding and skill development but to create the company's next generation of ideas, products and leaders. The program is led and run by Trilogy's top executives, including its CEO.

5. Teaching and Coaching

This means having people in the organization - both managers and specialists - whose role it is to help others to grow, learn and realize their potential. Many organizations have de-emphasized this key task as pressure to meet quarterly performance targets have cascaded down to every level of the organization.

Schools provide an inspiration and model from which other organizations can learn. They have teachers whose only job is to develop their student's skills and learning. While few organizations are positioned to employ full-time teachers, many should encourage and help managers and staff to take on this role. They can do this by explicitly acknowledging the value of teaching and coaching and including these responsibilities in the expectations and measures of performance set for managers and staff.

6. Diversity of Talents and Personalities

The value of diversity in business seems obvious to most observers, but few leaders really know how to leverage the differences that people bring to the workplace. As Ricardo Semler, head of the innovative Brazilian conglomerate Semco puts it - "I prefer Coq-au-Vin to Chicken McNuggets". He is not talking about food but rather cultures that blend diverse talents and perspectives (like the ingredients in a slow-cooked Coq-au-Vin) versus those that impose numbing conformity on their people (like the industrial-style sameness of Chicken McNuggets). And believe me, many companies have Chicken McNugget talent - mass produced, standardized and consistently mediocre. Far better to blend diverse ingredients into a rich and unique tasting stew - ala coq au vin!

Semco backs up its words with actions. It regularly pairs younger and older workers together. Its "Lost in Space" program affords young staff the opportunity to move around the company on a regular basis during their first few years. This helps them to both develop new perspectives are well as inject their own fresh ideas throughout the business. Their "Trading Places" initiative let's people trade jobs as a way of gaining new experience and skills.

7. Horizontal Growth Paths

Flattening of hierarchies in recent years has severely curtailed growth paths in many organizations. But growth shouldn't just be up the ladder or depend purely on acquiring managerial skills. Another productive growth path is horizontal and progressive organizations have created lateral paths that allow people to broaden their skills and knowledge within their disciplines and jobs.

Companies like IBM, Texas Instruments and Intel have instituted technical mastery programs to allow individual contributors and specialists to develop their knowledge and learning and to be paid and recognized for it. This means talent can advance based on their learning pace rather than have to change jobs or be promoted to get ahead.

Hype or Reality?

So how does your workplace stack up on these seven practices that matter most to creating an enriching workplace? Are job stretch and mobility, freedom and stimulation and horizontal growth paths the exception or the rule at your employer? Are mentoring, teaching and coaching rare or pervasive throughout your organization? Is diversity merely an overused word in your company's communications or a real principle on which your organization operates every day?

Targeted Talent Management Source: Unknown

Most large organizations talk about Talent Management as part of their wider strategy.  It is a crucial way of securing, developing and motivating people with the right skills and approaches to meet business objectives.

But how many of our strategic goals are fully met by our talented people? All too often, we find that we don't have the right people in place to fill a gap when it appears, or we simply can't keep hold of the individuals we want.  Even worse, talented people may simply not be operating at the levels we require.

So what can we do to seize these missed opportunities? I believe that the biggest single challenge is achieving genuine "connectedness" between Talent Strategy and Business Strategy.  A wide range of people processes often take place without a clear relationship with the ultimate aims and culture of the business.

Think about recruitment, performance management and development - to what extent are these processes based on a clear analysis of the talents and skills that people will need to operate at the next level? To what extent do you build people's capability and motivation to meet the needs of the business in a few years' time?  It is vitally important to build a clear definition of what each organisation really means by talent throughout the organisation. The acid test is simple - do people with these qualities deliver the kinds of business success we are aiming for?

In a project that I am involved with at the moment, I am working with a major organisation that has a very clear sense of its future strategic direction.  It is investing now in its people by providing feedback and coaching - targeting not only each person's natural areas of strength, but also pinpointing the specific qualities that the organisation will need in the future.  Crucially, this is not a one-hit wonder - the outcomes are linked to how people are managed, developed and motivated.  The direct effect on business outcomes will be tracked and analysed.  It is this joined-up quality that makes a significant difference - linking business strategy to people's daily experience of the organisation.

It is vitally important that individual aspirations and organisational goals are delivered together.  Too often, these are seen as unequal partners.  However, organisations that genuinely focus on understanding each person's own natural talents tend to achieve corporate success.  We need to create different routes for people to progress and develop; otherwise we will only appeal to a narrow range of people.  This approach requires an open mind, tackling questions like "How can we use this person's talents and energies?", "How can we organise our work differently?" or "Are we aiming for the wrong things?" But if such issues are genuinely addressed, great things can be achieved.

"Alignment" is another key element of a successful Talent Strategy.  When selecting or developing people, most organisations focus on the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours required for the role.  However, some organisations are beginning to look at the behaviours required to operate effectively in a particular team or culture.  Working with Professors Michael West and Neil Anderson, ASE have an approach that looks at all of the factors that drive team performance (not simply the "types" of people in the team), and this leads to impressive results.  We need to understand the relationship between people's motivations and the sorts of organisational cultures in which they will thrive.

Talent Management should be about delivering business success through understanding what we actually mean by talent, and how it will achieve the specific goals of the organisation.  It is about ensuring that we value the natural talents and aspirations of our people.  It is about ensuring that we understand what blockages can spoil all our hard work.  it is about operating people processes that join together not only with each other, but with the business's goals.  And finally, it is also about understanding how to manage people for alignment as well as ability.  If we adopt these approaches, not only will business success follow, but we should also have fulfilled and effective people.