Although there are numerous definitions, concepts, and methods associated with this term, our basic definition of talent management is: a leadership process that enables the organization to identify and manage the totality of skills and competencies that ensure business success.
There are two key concepts today regarding talent management.
The first focuses on the management of talent, that is, emphasis is placed on nurturing and developing employees with the highest potential for contribution to the organization.
The second focuses on the management of skills, that is, on creating an optimal match between the skills required for various jobs and the available pool of employee skills.
Talent management addresses two main types of risks: “My star employees abandon me” and “the empty bench”.
The first risk, “My star employees abandon me,” is where they receive or even proactively seek job offers from other organizations, and when they find an appropriate offer they leave.
There is also the phenomenon of emotional desertion of the workplace, where the employee has no plans to leave, but neither does he make an exceptional effort to use his talents to benefit the organization.
In this case the organization should manage the talent, that is, examine what motivates employees, what is important to them, and what gaps must be filled to develop the processes of talent nurturing and retention.
The second risk, “the empty bench,” refers to insufficient successors to key positions in the organization, where an employee quits or is promoted to another job, but there is no one to fill his place.
Even if it seems that there is a suitable successor for the position, it may take him a long time to become effective in the new job. A position that is not staffed may lead to loss of revenue and to a failure to achieve company objectives.
In this case, the organization should manage the skills and competencies, –map the critical positions and the skills required to fill them, and identify employees with the right qualifications.
Depending on the mapping results, the organization should then create a pool of “potential successors for all the key positions (succession planning), addressing the skills and readiness of the employees.
The way to retain talent is the same in times of recession and in times of economic growth. In both cases, you need to consider the appropriate way to compensate your talents and identify what motivates him/her.
The difference is the type of answers the organization is capable of providing during a recession, versus the options available in times of growth. The answer is not always financial compensation. Some employees prefer to enrich their professional skills, some set the next job as their goal, and others seek to participate in a professional conference.
During a recession, the solution for employee retention will revolve probably around professional development within the organization, mentoring by a senior company executive, exposure to cross-organizational projects, etc.
What is important is to create a personal dialogue with the employee and to understand his needs.
An organization’s decision to start managing their talent results from one of two reasons: anxiety about a deteriorating situation or a desire to do better.
Anxiety stems from the resignations of talented employees. This usually happens after a manager has experienced personally the loss of a promising employee, and perceives it as a personal abandonment.
Often, frustration resulting from the question “Could I have handled it differently?” leads to action.
In such a case, the prevailing approach to argue the importance of talent management is based on return on investment (ROI).
Replacing a talent that has decided to leave involves higher costs and other implications than replacing other employees, mainly because the resignation of talent involves the loss of vital knowledge. This loss is particularly evident in cases of employees who maintain contact with customers, such as sales personnel, implementation and customer support or others on whom customers depend.
In Israel, the minimal calculation amounts to the cost of half a year’s work. Therefore, a plan that may reduce talent turnover even to some degree will impact return on investment.
The second motive to initiate a talent management process is the drive for improvement. For example, the desire to “duplicate” a successful sales representative or to understand the set of skills that would help a person succeed in the future.
Developing talents enables the organization to produce proper successors for key positions, making it possible for the company to realize its business objectives.
The HR manager should match up the talent management plan to the company’s business strategy. Managers who are convinced of the added value of such a process will approve it more easily.
When introducing talent management into the organization, the communication policy is always an issue on which management must decide. Any decision will have its pros and cons.
Full communication of the subject can cause discontent among employees who are excluded from the project. However, if the communication refers to the possibility of employees joining the process in the future, it establishes for them prospects of development and promotion.
In general, the degree of transparency on this issue will probably be similar to the level of transparency on other issues, since it depends on the corporate culture.
In any case, bear in mind that creating a distinction between different groups of employees in the organization is in direct conflict with the principles of equality and social justice.
A way to reduce tension on this issue is for the organization to practice transparency and to enact a strategy for talent management that clearly specifies the employee characteristics that are recognized as talent.
When policies are clear and transparent, you are more able to address the feelings of dissatisfaction among the employees who are not included in the plan, and the issue becomes less emotional.
In any case, the company should be prepared for such a process to cause a degree of discontent, and HR managers should be ready to deal with these feelings when the project is launched.
Based on experience, when a top talent management plan is launched, you should also be ready to address other groups of employees, such as employees and managers in core and key positions whom the organization is interested in retaining.
Expanding the number of participants in the plan appeases somewhat the feelings of dissatisfaction and places emphasis on motivating employees as part of an overall strategy of the company.
Ostensibly, employee representatives are supposed to oppose the process because it creates inequality and possibly a conflict of interests. In practice however, there are many organizations in which employee representatives often cooperate and participate in the implementation of talent management plans.
Before launching the plan, it is important to maintain a dialogue with employee representatives and emphasize that such a plan leads to the promotion of employees from within the organization, as opposed to recruiting new workers. This is naturally in the interest of the worker committees.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that a business is not socialism at its best but a balance between whatever can produce value to the shareholders, employees, and the community in which the organization operates.
Although some skills are needed in every organization, such as IQ, EQ (emotional intelligence) and others, one must remember that the definition of talent is not clear-cut.
Talent is always estimated relative to the current and future needs of a particular organization, the nature of the organization, and the specific situation. It is possible, therefore, that an employee considered a talent in organization A will not be considered as such in organization B, and vice versa.
If the recruitment process is carried out according to the specific and rigid requirements of a hiring professional manager, there may be applicants with great talent who could fill the position who will not be engaged because they do not precisely meet the defined profile.
At the same time, one should keep in mind that the hiring managers sometimes may have a genuine difficulty accepting a candidate who does not meet the criteria, from their point of view.
Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the skills and capabilities necessary based on the job description and those that are no more than a matter of habit.
The understanding that diversity can help the organization achieve its business goals should percolate to the hiring managers. To this end, HR managers should provide the hiring manager with the tools and means to expand diversity.
This can be accomplished through various interview options. You can add another step of an interview with another manager to evaluate the candidate, or even expand the variety of the recruitment resources beyond those currently used for recruitment.
The connection between talent management and diversity, besides being value-related, enables the entry of new populations into the organization, which is important to the vitality of the organization and increases its chances of success.
A good example is the call center, which in the past was populated only by students.
In light of the high turnover in the field, an attempt was made, which proved to be successful, to incorporate different populations, such as women after maternity leave, senior citizens, the ultra-Orthodox, and people with disabilities and train them as call center representatives.
Surely it is possible and advisable to manage talent in a small organization.
A small organization faces challenges that are similar to those of a large organization, such as the need for succession planning (bench players) and responding to situations when talent leaves the organization, often because of limited opportunities for development and promotion.
When talent leaves, a small organization is exposed to greater risk than a large one, since the volume of activity supported by the talent is much higher.
The damage that could be caused to the organization by not maximizing employee potential, the wrong placement of an employee, or top talent quitting, represents a high risk factor.
The main difference between small and large organizations is in the implementation of the plan and its adjustment to the size of the organization.
A talent management plan in a small company usually includes “leaner” processes based on “best practices,” as well as restricted mapping processes, to enable a quick course of action that meets the needs of the organization.
The technological system needed to support the process should therefore be modular and adapt to processes the organization needs at the current stage, but with an option for future expansion based on the changing needs of the organization and on its growth.
The Talent Management solution is a comprehensive and integrative system based on a modular approach, which provides the organization with a partial or complete Talent Management solutions that the organization is interested in implementing.
The system includes:
HR Core – to collect and consolidate employee and job data across modules, such as learning management and performance management, providing accurate and timely information without the need for duplicate data entry, and reducing the number of errors significantly.
Performance Management – to create a correlation between employees’ individual goals and the strategic objectives of the organization. Managers and employees work together to define, test, measure, and update the objectives, with the help of intuitive web-based self-service tools.
Compensation Management – allows HR personnel, professional managers, and management to work together to develop an encouraging and competitive approach based on salary, bonuses, incentive plans, and benefits – an approach that is simple, flexible, transparent, and easy to compare with current market rates.
Skills and Competence Management – helps you identify the employees with the skills, training, knowledge, and personal qualities you need, and plan their course of development in accordance with your organizational goals.
360Degree Feedback – allows creating personal and balanced employees assessment to determine their potential, strengths, and weaknesses. Feedback is provided anonymously by a large number of relevant sources, including supervisors, peers, subordinates, partners and customers.
Career and Succession Planning – helps you handle the issue of missing skills, manage the talent pool of the company identify successors, plan their development course, and identify opportunities for internal mobility of employees.
Learning Management – allows you to create and manage an effective learning culture in the workplace based on determining and matching the individual learning needs of employees with organizational needs.
HR Analytics – a collection of powerful analysis tools based on a central database, which is populated from various sources of information. It allows you to track and report on a range of issues across all talent management systems. Central dashboard and graphic displays provide detailed insights into main processes of HR management.
The Talent Management solution is designed for organizations of any size, particularly those where specific HR processes take place and the organization is interested in adjusting its HR plans to suit the strategic and tactical plans of the organization.
The solution is available either in Hosting, operated from a secure data center, or On-Premises model.
Inclusion of an employee in the talent management process is usually based on their managers’ recommendation (department managers, senior management, etc.). The employee then undergoes a more comprehensive and objective evaluation, such as the 360 degree feedback. At times, at this phase “mistakes” are found. In this case the employee remains in the process for the current year, but does not continue the next year.
In addition, there are employees who leave the process because of changes in work patterns. The decisions as to who the talent is are made based on capabilities such as performance, strategic planning, collaboration with co-workers, and more.
If in the course of the year there is a decline in the performance of an employee included in the process, usually the organization will remove him from long-term nurturing and development, and will focus on restoring better performance in his current position.
Typically, an organization nurtures the senior management level and those in critical positions, because when such employees leave, it strongly affects the operation of the organization. Mid-level employees are nurtured when they hold a critical position, or when the employee is a potential successor in the long-term succession plan.
More and more organizations, however, also introduce the process at mid-level. However, it then takes place at the departmental level and not at the level of the organization. Each organizational unit builds its own talent pool, which makes it a part of the organization’s general pool.
A successful employee development plan must address three issues: personal development, group development, and career development.
Personal development is based on the profile of the employee’s specific capabilities. The employee’s strengths and weaknesses are identified as part of the performance assessment process, and together with the employee a plan is tailored for him to close gaps and fill in missing skills. Such a plan is usually built from a “menu” of options that include coaching, courses, organizational experiences, mentoring etc.
Group development is intended to meet the common talent needs of a group, such as developing long-term strategic thinking, bringing about change, and more. There are organizations that send such employees for training, for example, to Harvard or INSEAD. Others stretch the process over an extended period of time, during which managers from other organizations visit and describe their experiences, and so on.
Career development is needed to show the employee, who is part of the talent pool, that within a certain period of time, usually up to two years, it will affect his career. Organizations should avoid situations in which employees who took courses and underwent training are bypassed when there is finally an opening for a senior position, and someone not in the pool gets the job.
Executive team development plans deal with the development of the individual. This is a process of empowering the managers, intended to deepen their professional knowledge and improve their managerial capabilities. The process aims at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the managers, determining their personal vision, and preparing a work plan to achieve this vision.
By contrast, talent management plans are conducted at the organizational level. They deal with mapping and management of the sum total of skills: competencies, knowledge, skills, and experience essential for the organization today and in the future in order to achieve its strategic objectives and ensure business success.