Talent Management

Identifying, Developing, and Keeping Talented People

Talent Management - Identifying, Developing, and Keeping Talented People

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Develop your people so that they can perform at their best.

Who are the high and low performers in your company?

Do you recruit and hire very talented people?

Is your company committed to keeping top performers, and removing low performers?

And does your organization develop its people effectively?

The answers to these questions determine how – and if – an organization manages talent. We hear all the time about the importance of recruiting talented people, and how talented people create value for many different types of business. However, while most companies know that they need to attract and retain these talented people, they often struggle to do it.

Talent management is a comprehensive strategy that brings together different human resource initiatives – recruitment, retention, learning management, leadership development, and succession planning. When done properly, you'll select the right people for the right jobs, and you'll develop your people so that they can perform at their best.

Start With a Talent Mindset

Talent management is, essentially, an issue of corporate culture. It is not simply a matter of aligning various HR systems: it's about recognizing that your organization needs talented, well-trained, highly-motivated people if it's to perform at its best and realize its full potential.

HR can create a talent management system – however, for that system to be effective, it must be supported and developed by managers and leaders from all parts of the organization.

At times when talented workers are hard to find, it's critically important to attract and retain high-quality staff. When competitors are actively trying to recruit your top people away from you, and experienced workers retire, you need to be confident that managers throughout your organization are committed to keeping the talented people they already have. Where managers fail to do this, this needs to be viewed as the squandering of precious company resources.

Build and Leverage the Talent You Have

Consider the following points to develop the talent of people in your organization:

Performance Management

People must be accountable for their performance: it's just not acceptable to allow poor performance to continue.

Develop an effective performance management system, and monitor its use. Insist on regular feedback sessions, and communicate performance results consistently. When people understand their strengths and weaknesses, they have the opportunity to grow and develop. Follow up with coaching to improve performance.

Also, be sure to recognize and reward team members for their performance and talent. When people feel good about their performance, and know that their efforts are appreciated, they usually work hard.

Staff Development

With regular monitoring and feedback, you'll be able to identify your highest-performing people. Individual managers must make the most of the talent of these individuals.

Look for new challenges for these people. This helps to keep high performers motivated and interested in their work. It's also a great way to identify and develop future leaders.

Finding people with lots of potential will help you focus on developing them – and help you hold onto all of the knowledge that those people have. Issues like glass ceilings tend to vanish when managers have a talent mindset.

Note that people usually want to do what they do best. When managers become aware of individual team members' talents, they need to find ways for these team members to apply those talents regularly. This builds individual strengths and confidence, and it improves these people's motivation and satisfaction.

Reassignment or Termination of Employment

This is usually a tough situation for managers, but it's a necessary part of the job.

If you have an individual who performs poorly, and you've done all you sensibly can to deal with this (see Dealing with Poor Performance), you may have no choice but to remove this person from the team.

This may mean finding a different, more suitable role for that person within the organization – or terminating employment. Support your managers when they have to make these difficult decisions, and reinforce the need to build and maintain a high-quality, highly talented team.


Mentoring is a very effective way to develop talented people within your organization. It's also a highly effective retention tool, because the people who are being mentored can see that their talents are recognized, and that the organization is committed to helping them grow and develop.

Integration With HR Systems

When leaders manage their teams with talent in mind, the HR department can effectively integrate its systems and strategies to create a total talent management package. Talent management can't be implemented in small pieces – it really has to be embraced by all parts of the organization. When this happens, everything works together to attract and retain the best people.


Recruiting efforts are greatly improved with a talent mindset. The organization's talent management practices naturally help to build the organization's reputation as a great employer – one that treats its staff well, recognizes and builds talent, and provides advancement opportunities. Talent-minded managers keep their eye out for potential new team members, and managers are much more interested and involved in recruitment and hiring practices.

Reward and Recognition

When managers become aware of how their own behavior impacts the retention of talented employees, they'll usually make an effort to use reward and recognition more effectively. If their own performance is tied to how well they manage the talent on their team, the "talent mindset" message can be even more effective. Establish a talent standard within your organization, and make all leaders accountable.

Competency Management

To understand the talent that you need within your company, create a "database" of competencies – and establish processes for developing, monitoring, and managing the development of skills, abilities, knowledge, and behaviors within the workforce.

When you discover skill gaps, ask your managers to identify people who can fill those gaps now – or talented individuals who can be developed to fill these gaps in the future.

This also helps you "benchmark" and define talent, so that you know what top talent looks like. By monitoring and evaluating the skills and competencies of your current staff, you can make better decisions about the skills and competencies that you need over the long term.

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Training and Development

Together with competency management, a successful approach to talent management includes comprehensive assessment of training needs and preparation of development plans for your workers. To build talent, you usually need training. If HR systems track learning, they'll help you make sure that staff build the skills they need, and they'll allow managers to make training decisions based on a longer-term view of the individual's development.

Succession Planning

Talent management is an important part of effective succession planning.

Defining, tracking, and developing talent are important parts of developing successors for key positions in your organization. The earlier you identify these people, the better. When you commit to talent management, you'll not only start to find out which skills you need for the future, you'll also learn who has those skills – and you'll actively develop their skills even further.

This also works very well with mentoring, especially when a key person mentors his or her own potential successor.


Computer-based Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) are often used to support talent management programs. These systems provide an efficient way for everyone within an organization to access talent information – and to plan and prepare accordingly.

Key Points

Talent Management is a formal approach for maximizing the contribution that individuals can make, by better using and developing their skills and experience.

For this to work, the organization needs to commit itself to talent management, as it affects very many aspects of the way that people are managed within the organization. However, by getting the right people in the right jobs, developing them properly, and creating a great work environment, you have a great foundation for building an exceptionally talented – and successful – organization.