What is Talent Mgt.?

What is Talent Management?

Talent Management Defined
Talent management is the integrated process of ensuring that an organization has a continuous supply of highly productive individuals in the right job, at the right time. Rather than a one-time event, talent management is a continuous process that plans talent needs, which includes the following:

  • builds an image to attract the very best
  • ensures that new hires are immediately productive
  • helps to retain the very best
  • facilitates the continuous movement of talent to where it can have the most impact within the organization

The goal of the talent management process is to increase overall workforce productivity through the improved attraction, retention, and utilization of talent. The talent management strategy is superior not just because it focuses on productivity, but also because it is forward looking and proactive, which means that the organization is continuously seeking out talent and opportunities to better utilize that talent.

It produces excellent results because it overcomes the major problem of connecting traditional hiring practices with key business strategy. It integrates the previously independent functions of recruiting, retention, workforce planning, employment branding, metrics, orientation and redeployment into a seamless process with the broader view of company profitability; in essence unifying the approach to people management that produces significantly higher business results. 

Primary Principles of Talent Management 
The four primary factors that make the talent management approach unique include:

1. It takes an integrated approach within HR. Talent management formally integrates people management programs and functions so that they work as a continuous process.

2. It integrates people processes into standard business processes. Talent management goes the next step and further repositions people management programs and processes into the company’s standard business processes, such as the corporate strategic planning process, budgeting, mergers, and new product development.

3. It shifts responsibility to managers (and this is what makes our work distinct). Talent management pushes the accountability and the responsibility for executing people management down to the line management levels, which is where it should be to develop the potential of each individual contributor.

4. It measures success with productivity that impacts profits. Talent management shifts the success measures from the more traditional HR and recruiting functional metrics towards where it should be - a company's bottom line.

An Integrated Approach Within HR

The first unique element of workforce management is the integration of disparate HR functions. Workforce management differs from the traditional approach to HR where individual HR functions operate independently. For example, look at the relationship (or lack thereof) between recruiting and compensation. Even though the amount of total compensation that is actually offered to candidates might have a huge impact on recruiting success (especially if the compensation is too low), in most organizations there is little or no interaction between the separate functions of compensation and recruiting. Because compensation has no “stake” in recruiting, there’s no reason for them to speed up their offers or to make them more competitive.

A similarly weak relationship exists between recruiting and retention. Even though the types of people that you recruit, the sources that you use, and the promises you make during the selection process have a tremendous impact on retention rates, there is traditionally no relationship between the recruiting function and retention function within HR.

Talent management takes a broader and more strategic approach because it demands that independent HR efforts be integrated through common goals, metrics, and rewards. This makes “handoffs” in processes more seamless and increases the overall quality of recruiting, retention, and workforce planning efforts.

Integrating People Processes Into Standard Business Processes
The second key element of the talent management focuses on embedding talent management into traditional business processes. Talent management starts with the premise that managing talent is an essential part of any businesses success, where it is considered at least as important as budgeting, quality control, and customer service.

Talent management integrates traditional talent-related functions that were considered as “administrative” functions into routine business processes. By “embedding” people management processes into standard business processes you force line managers to think of recruiting, retention, development, etc. as essential activities that make a significant contribution to any manager’s business results and success. By eliminating the premise that recruiting and retention efforts are “occasional” events, you get managers to begin to think that people management activities are not separate and distinct things that you do on occasional basis, but rather continuous activities that must be carried out every day on an ongoing basis. 

Shifting Responsibility to Managers
The third element of workforce management is getting managers to accept responsibility for developing and maintaining excellence in people management. A talent management strategy teaches individual managers that their goals of increasing productivity, output, cutting costs, etc. are not independent from recruiting, retention, and development efforts.

This is a major departure for traditional corporate practices.  And if you have HR professionals who a territorial, job-protective in how they see their role rather than a facilitator and partner of generating profits, this will be difficult to realize.  It will take strong leadership through a culture and structural change.  The good news for new companies is this can be weaved into the development of their company culture and structure early on.

This approach to talent management provides managers with a convincing business case that demonstrates how their individual success is tied to the continuous process of recruiting, retaining, moving and developing talent. Once managers begin to realize that they cannot reach their output goals without effective talent management/people processes, they then commit more of their own time and resources into the recruiting, development, and retention of their talent. 

Measuring Success With Productivity
The final distinction between talent management and standard HR is how the success of people management is measured. While most HR functions measure their success with functional metrics like number of hires, number of development programs offered, and customer satisfaction, talent management instead measures its success by assessing its overall business impact. Business impact in this case is measured by the overall increase in the productivity of the workforce (employees) at a particular firm. In other words, you don’t improve development, recruiting, or retention just to improve them; instead you improve these people processes in order to increase the output of your workers.

The ultimate measure of effective talent management is the change in the return on investment for people management as measured by the ratio between dollars spent on employees (total employee costs) and the dollar value of the employees output (output value or revenue). 

Other Key Elements of Talent Management
In addition to the four above elements of talent management, there are some other factors that help define how talent management differs from traditional recruiting. They include:

  • A focus on high impact positions. A talent management strategy requires managers and HR to determine which jobs, when filled with top talent, have the largest impact on a firm’s success.
  • Accountability. Talent management assigns responsibility for managing the talent inventory to the chief talent officer, who is responsible for results, not effort.
  • Rewards and metrics. Talent management builds cooperation and integration between previously independent efforts through its heavy use of common goals, metrics and rewards. As a result, no independent function can be considered successful unless the overall talent management effort is also successful.
  • Balanced metrics. Talent management gets managers’ attention by instituting a system of measures and rewards that ensures every manager is recognized and rewarded for excellence in people management (high workforce productivity). It simultaneously measures employee engagement to ensure that managers reach their productivity goals while using the appropriate management behaviors (two-way communications, empowerment, meritocracy, etc.).
  • Business approach. The talent management strategy is not derived from an overhead or administration model. It is developed from and mirrors other successful business process models, like supply chain management, finance, and lean manufacturing.
  • Recognition of the business cycle. The talent management approach involves recognizing that different types of talent are required depending on changing business situations. As a result, talent management requires the continuous internal movement of talent in and out of jobs and business units based on current business needs and where the company is in its business cycle.
  • Truly global. Talent managements encourages finding, retaining, and developing the best talent no matter where it is. It also stresses putting the work where the best talent is.
  • Focus on service. Seamless service is the expectation of talent management. Customer satisfaction, process speed, quality, and responsiveness are continually measured.
  • Anticipation. While traditional recruiting and retention tend to be reactive, talent management is forward looking. It forecasts and alerts managers about upcoming problems and opportunities. It encourages managers to act before the need arises in talent management issues.

The Essential Pieces of Talent Management
The various elements of the talent management process that must be integrated and work as a single unified process are listed below. Talent management elements 2 through 5 are the more traditional recruiting areas that are now integrated into the overall talent management process. This is a great checklist:

  1. Workforce planning to project future needs and to prioritize key jobs and skills
  2. Sourcing of candidates
  3. Screening of candidates
  4. Offers to candidates
  5. Relocation
  6. Orientation at the corporate level and at the supervisor level
  7. Initial development
  8. Revised forecasts of needs and supply
  9. Improving time to productivity for new hires
  10. New hire failure assessment (for those that are terminated within one year of hire)
  11. Employee development to continually improve skills and capabilities
  12. Leadership development to fill the management pipeline
  13. Project and team assignments for development purposes
  14. Succession planning to identify and speed up the development of future leaders
  15. Internal movement of individuals (voluntary and non-voluntary) to fill individual vacancies
  16. Redeployment of groups and teams into higher impact business units
  17. Outsourcing and off-shoring to reduce labor costs
  18. Replacement plans (in the case of a sudden vacancy)
  19. Retention
  20. Metrics for measuring the effectiveness of the workforce management process
  21. A “feedback” loop to improve the overall workforce management process as a result of successes and failures
  22. Branding and external image-building (ensuring a steady supply of qualified candidates for future needs)
  23. Retirement planning (voluntary and encouraged)
  24. Releasing non-productive new hires or surplus workers (firing, layoffs, and other workforce reduction tools)
Notation: What is talent management content was adapted from an article written by Dr. John Sullivan, the former Chief Talent Officer for Agilent Technologies


So Where Does The "Holistic" Come In?

We at The Human Sphere consider holistic talent management to have two key elements. The first is a business approach that sees and treats every employee as a whole human being; whole defined as mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.  That means taking into consideration their needs, and in that promoting good will, respect, and a commitment to their value. This is additionally reflected in hiring practices when efforts are made to ensure a potential employee is the best fit possible for the role, team, and company. It means having a hiring philosophy that goes beyond the job description.

There are a range of ways many companies are practicing holistic talent management - on small budgets and large. With the emergence of wellness programs, creative incentives, emotional intelligence work, mindfulness and yoga classes offered on site, increased call for creative and innovative thinking, allowing prayer space and values based leadership, it’s clear that functioning holistically is increasing in its importance and it’s also clear many companies are seeing the financial benefits to acknowledging and valuing the full humanness of their employees.

Companies who are practicing this are experiencing better market position and profits. In reviewing the Forbes - Best Companies to Work For and the philosophy and practices of these companies, the element of honoring the whole of their employee’s humanity is definitely demonstrated.

I’m encouraged as a proponent of this approach that’s it’s not only the larger, more popular, cutting edge tech companies who do this: Apple, Google, Zappos, but – as an example – one that resides in a more traditional business sector - a grocery store based in upstate New York. Wegmans has made the list many times!

For sure holistic talent management is possible and profitable.  The main thing that gets in the way of it being so is the thinking and personal values of a company’s leadership. This must be a deeply held way of thinking and acting for it to be fully realized from the C-suite to main street.

The second element of holistic talent management was referenced above and comes from the comprehensive approach of embedding traditional HR functions into the complete business process and strategy. A lot of corporate energy is wasted when influential functions of HR and those who manage employees day-to-day are not appropriately integrated to maximize the capability of its employees.

I’ve witnessed this lack of integration and collaboration across the country particularly in the area of employee training. There is a substantial disconnect in how managers see their role and that of a training /HR department.  It’s clear that most managers don’t see “talent management” as part of their job description and expect the HR department to do “the training” and in a way that is not logical or realistic.  They expect someone to attend a training class and be ready to hit the ground running – skills developed immediately. They don’t realize that knowledge may be gained in a seminar or training class, a skill is developed over a period of time.

Without front-line managers understanding that part of effectively managing their team is working with and developing skills, there is so much lost opportunity to get the most of or fully engage a team member. 

So, included in holistic talent management is a commitment to management training and development.  What’s the point in putting in so much effort, time, and financial resources to attract and hire the most talented when those who are managing them don’t know how to do so successfully? Therefore, management and leadership development is also included in the business strategy – it’s not optional, but seen as essential to serving clients, enhancing the brand, and ultimately increasing profits.

Therefore, management and leadership development is not conducted ad hoc, but is strategic in its design and integrated in its approach. It’s thoughtfully created and developed around pre-determined competencies both broad and specific.  Broad competencies, for example, are those for managers such as emotional intelligence, decision-making, team management, coaching, personal productivity and collective productivity to name a few. Competencies more specifically could be related to a manager in a certain context such as sales.  All development is embedded in our results-based leadership framework to improve operational performance.

Holistic talent management also goes beyond traditional training or learning modalities of learning.  It takes into account that if behavior is going to change it should be approached from an inside-out perspective; one that seeks to respectfully engage the will, spirit, emotions, and mind of a person. All of our offerings reflect this philosophy. An example would be the management training offering delivered via Facilitated Experiential Training™ or what we call a "roundtable".

What Next?
Our talent management / operational performance offerings begin with an assessment of where you're at and where you want to go or be. For a preliminary discussion - contact JoAnn Corley - joann@thehumansphere.com to set up a time to talk.

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