Talent Management is the deliberate process via which an organisation seeks to maximise returns on its human capital. Since the shift from an agrarian to an industrial and now to a knowledge based economy, people have become the distinguishing factor that keeps an organisation profitable and ahead of its competitors.
T wo schools of thought exists. One school views all employees as talents and sees it as the organisation’s role to develop these “talents” to their maximum, while the other school acknowledges that all employees are talents, but goes one step further to identify (for specific key appointments within the organisation) and specially manage a smaller core group. From a shareholder perspective, the latter makes financial sense as, while noble to develop all employees, an organisation exists to maximise shareholder returns on investment.
To ensure effective talent management for the purpose of leadership succession, an organisation must have three systems in place – Talent Identification System, Talent Grooming and Appraisal System; and a Talent Recognition and Rewards System.
Talent Identification System . The Talent Identification System is the first, and arguably the most crucial, system in the Talent Management process. The role of this system is to surface the largest possible number of qualified candidates for management’s consideration. To be effective, this system must not only be comprehensive such that all qualified employees are reviewed, but objective and “scientific” such that it is not based on the assessor’s whim and fancy and that identification is based on assessed organisational needs backed by research. This will then ensures that the succession planning pipe is always filled with qualified candidates.
Talent Grooming and Appraisal System . Once the talents have been identified, the next step in the Talent Management process is the Talent Grooming and Appraisal System. Here, based on the initial assessment of the candidate’s highest possible appointment, the talent grooming system will then deliberately move the candidates through a series of specially selected courses and appointments with increasingly higher responsibilities. The purpose of this is to not only allow management to assess the candidates’ ability to hold higher leadership appointments, but also provide the candidate with exposure to various aspects of the organisation. At each of these courses or appointments, regular and detailed appraisals on the candidates’ performance is conducted to confirm their estimated potential. Candidates are only advanced to the next level if he or she has proven their ability.
Talent Recognition and Rewards System . This is the third and final system in the Talent Management process. As talent is “transferable” and highly sought after, an effective Talent Recognition and Reward System is necessary in ensuring that talents remains with the organisation. While competitive renumeration affects talent retention, organisations should view renumeration as a “hygiene” factor and not rely on this as the primary retention mechanism as pay can easily be matched or bettered. The key to retaining talent is thus to understand the individual talents’ aspirations and to help them achieve it with the organisation. Example of recognition and rewards could be as simple as a title or corner office, the opportunity to lead or undertake projects in the talent’s area of interest, or even the opportunity for sponsored studies or sabbaticals. The central idea being to match the talent’s growth with that of the organisation’s.
In summary, it is my view that Talent Management is the deliberate process via which an organisation identifies, grooms and rewards its human capital so as to ensure its continued success and responsibility to its shareholders. Besides committing resources to put in place the necessary systems and people to manage it, effective Talent Management is the personal responsibility of the CEO and he must make it his or her continued focus.