Talent management concept - definition and explanation (article)

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In this article, Derek Stockley outlines his personal definition of talent management and explains the growing importance of the concept.

The current increased discussion about skill shortages and the population growing older means that organisations, if they have not done so already, should be reviewing their approach to talent management.

Derek Stockley provides training and performance management consulting services from his base in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Derek Stockley conducts one day leadership courses in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth or London.

Talent management definition

I define talent management as:

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

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

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 realise 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.

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