The aim of a talent management strategy is to ensure your business has the right people to achieve its goals. These strategies can be complex and include not only attracting the right people but nurturing and retaining them as well. This guide provides an in-depth look at talent management strategies to help HR and talent acquisition teams build a cohesive and effective strategy of their own.
What is talent management?
Talent management is the process businesses use to assemble the best people for their needs and help them evolve into outstanding and long-term employees. Effective talent management requires collaboration between business leaders and HR. Together, they build a talent management strategy to identify, recruit, and retain the right talent for the business.
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The importance of talent management
Effective talent management is a crucial part of any healthy business. It is the means by which the business builds and maintains its workforce. Competition is fierce in the current corporate landscape; there are many open positions, but not enough high-quality candidates to fill them.
It is critical for businesses to recruit and hire the right people for open positions and retain existing employees by advancing them to higher positions within the organization. The talent management process also helps businesses avoid the expense and time investment that result from high employee turnover.
An organization’s talent management plan directly correlates to organizational performance and impacts key metrics such as efficiency, productivity, and revenue.
Talent management model
A talent management model is an organization’s method of relating to its internal and external talent pool. Put into practice, talent management involves a series of systematically arranged processes. These processes include creating a talent management plan, then attracting, developing, retaining, and transitioning talent to and within the organization.
It is important to hire the most qualified, experienced people for open positions, but a truly effective talent management plan considers the future skills, talent, and productivity levels that will be necessary to maintain momentum and stay competitive. This includes a variety of strategies, including evaluations of future costs, current company employee demographics, and succession planning.
For example, many companies saw an unexpected increase in productivity after sending their employees home to work remotely in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. With better numbers and happier employees, some of these businesses closed their buildings and switched to a telework model for their entire staff. They not only adjusted to unforeseen circumstances but used them to reshape their work model and make positive changes for their employees.
It has already been established that great talent is scarce. As baby boomers continue their exit from the workforce and the Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing, how does a business attract people who are not only a good fit for the company, but also possess the skills required to succeed in their role? In three words: managers, peers, and benefits.
Building a great talent management team is the first step. People follow good managers; conversely, bad management is one of the most common reasons employees begin to look for the exit. Businesses should take intentional steps to avoid hiring bad managers, but it’s important to keep in mind that promoting good employees does not automatically create great leadership. Once good managers are in place, it is crucial that they receive leadership training to effectively inspire and engage their teams.
Peers are just as important to employees as management. Nothing hinders a team’s productivity and morale like an uncooperative co-worker. HR teams and managers should use the hiring process to carefully assess each candidate’s propensity for collaboration. When issues arise with existing uncooperative employees, they should be provided with feedback and given the opportunity to align more closely with the company’s values and expectations.
Benefits and advancement opportunities
Workers want opportunities for growth and advancement. Today’s competitive market reflects this phenomenon time and again. Talented candidates are far more likely to accept positions at businesses that offer clear career trajectories, competitive compensation for their skills, and great benefits.
Talent development is a process businesses use to identify and nurture employees’ skills and capabilities. It ensures that the organization has a competent workforce and a reliable pool of employees to promote when the time is right. Here are a few of the best methods businesses can use to develop the talent they already possess.
Education and training
Education and training is the first and most important aspect of talent development. This may include ongoing training specified to teach or update detailed technical skills, or preparing future leaders to effectively manage a diverse workforce.
One-on-one mentorship programs have also proven successful in expanding the horizons of workplace talent. A seasoned mentor can spot strengths and resources the mentee might not know they possess. Mentors can also spot the mentee’s weaker skills and suggest avenues for training and improvement.
A crucial facet of talent development that far too many businesses overlook is acknowledging and celebrating successes. A well-trained, resourceful employee may exceed all expectations, but if their efforts continually go overlooked or unappreciated, their morale is certain to suffer. The simple act of praising and thanking team members for a job well done makes them feel valued and can keep them on the right professional path.
Retaining great employees is just as important as hiring new ones. These are seasoned, reliable team members with deep knowledge and process mastery. Retaining them is in the best interests of the organization, valued customers, and the employees themselves. Here are the top strategies companies use to keep their existing employees engaged and motivated.
Any business looking to retain its top talent must first listen to what these employees have to say. After all, how do you motivate people you don’t know? This strategy is rooted in open, honest communication. Let the worker know they are of value, then listen to their ideas and concerns. Employees are far more likely to stay at a business where their concerns are validated and they feel heard.
End-of-year performance reviews are simply not enough anymore. Provide employees with regular feedback. Team members need regular opportunities to show their skills in order to build confidence. Allowing them chances to falter also provides them with lessons in growth and development. Employees need to understand and learn from their mistakes.
Many talent management strategies apply to multiple pipelines within the overall process. Upskilling and training, for example, are important parts of both developing talent and retaining it. If a valuable employee wants to learn and grow with the company, they should be offered opportunities to do so. Educating and training/cross-training employees are great ways to stop attrition before it begins.
Transitioning employees to new roles within an organization, whether by promotion or lateral moves, is one of the best ways to ensure the future success of everyone involved. We have a few tips to offer to make your employees’ role transitions smooth and successful.
Hear us out. Onboarding for new hires is a must in today’s collaborative work environment. We all need guidance and time to get adjusted to new duties, coworkers, and company culture.
This is also true of those moving within an organization. Laterally moved employees might need one-on-one sessions with new coworkers to establish networks. Newly promoted managers will almost certainly require leadership training. An onboarding process can help spot these issues and develop processes to solve them.
Any employee who wants to succeed in a new role will almost certainly have questions – lots of them. It is important that their new managers be transparent about expectations and deadlines, and make themselves available to listen and offer feedback.
Coaching and training
Link the worker to someone within the organization who has successfully made the transition, and encourage them to have ongoing check-ins. This experienced employee can help them with the transition to the new position and offer guidance on challenges that arise in the months after the transition, as well.
Any employee in a new position needs appropriate training to succeed. Many businesses still do not make this a priority, however, citing a lack of time or resources. Establishing and confirming the necessary training for existing employees in new positions ensures a confident, knowledgeable worker and a safeguard against errors that could have serious consequences for the business.
What are talent management strategies?
A talent management strategy is an organized, structured plan for building relationships with current and potential employees. Talent management strategies typically include a defined series of steps to ensure talent retention and employee development, and to make the organization more competitive in the talent acquisition marketplace.
These strategies rely on the use of benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and ensure that the business is effective in meeting its talent retention and recruiting goals.
Why is a talent management strategy important?
Talent management strategies are important because every business depends on having the right people in the right places to meet its goals. Talent management strategies ensure that the business-level goals and objectives inform — and are informed by — the work of the talent management or HR teams. In other words, talent management strategies improve the alignment between HR or People Ops teams and other areas of the business.
9 elements of an effective talent management strategy
No two organizations will have the same strategy, but there are a few actions any company can take to move toward a successful talent management strategy. Here are the nine elements of an effective talent management strategy that any organization should consider.
1. Define the goals
The process starts by determining the desired end results. This first step is essential, as these goals will guide all the activities of your talent management strategy. Establishing goals requires business leaders to work with human resources (HR) as an active part of the organization’s operations. Only when the whole company is working toward the same objectives can the right employees be added to the team.
2. Move from “what” to “who”
Once the main goals of talent management have been established, you’ll need to connect the dots between what your strategy needs to accomplish and who you need to get there. Start by asking questions such as
- How many people are needed to help us achieve this goal?
- What abilities are required to fill these roles?
- Are any organizational changes needed to meet the goal?
- Does it make more sense to hire internally or externally for this role?
These questions seem simple, but their answers can be complex, and will ultimately decide who comprises a company’s workforce.
3. Anticipate common pitfalls
Every process has challenges. Those common to talent management strategies include a lackluster recruitment process, not offering competitive benefits packages, a lack of employee recognition and/or development opportunities, and unrealistic expectations of recently transitioned employees.
4. Write appealing job descriptions
Talented candidates don’t just read a job description and apply if it aligns with their competencies. There is no set list of attributes that make potential candidates view a job description as sub-par, but many share a few similar characteristics, like including too much information (especially going overboard on a position’s duties), salary range omission, and posting poorly written, unedited job description copy.
5. Company culture is gold
Talented employees don’t tend to stay in a work environment prone to negativity and indifference. Why? They don’t have to. They seek new opportunities with companies that value them and their contributions. The importance of company culture has shot up in the last five years. In this 2019 Glassdoor survey, 77% of participants said they would evaluate a business’ company culture before accepting a position there. 56% indicated that their work environment was as important as salary.
The concept of company culture goes beyond positivity and inclusivity, however. Workers want competitive compensation, great benefits, and to be trusted to perform their duties without being micromanaged. Businesses that ignore company culture and employee treatment do so at their own peril.
6. Invest in your employees
The recruitment and hiring processes are costly and time-consuming for any business. By investing in your existing employees, you’re also investing in your pool of internal candidates.
Hiring internally can help reduce the overall cost of hiring, and it means you are working with candidates who are already familiar with the company, its values, and its network.
7. Monitor the strategy
Few processes work smoothly from the very beginning. Continually monitor each aspect of your talent management strategy, and be prepared to amend it depending on company needs, market changes, and employee feedback. Use surveys to get feedback and insights. Seek out the best employee management system to help as your workforce grows. Change is inevitable; use it to make your business a better place to work.
8. Gain executive buy-in
Make sure your company’s leadership is aligned with your talent management strategy. After all, they will be making decisions that impact your budget and the business.
Think of your talent management as a strategic partner. Be prepared to inform leadership of your needs, and to offer solutions to those needs. Offering ideas and presenting data to back up your recommendations is a great way to ensure alignment between the talent team and the company leadership.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to make your strategy unique and, well, yours. Maybe this means hosting quarterly town halls where everyone comes together (both in-person and virtually), or maybe it means offering monthly volunteer days that employees can use to give back.
Talent management is about doing what’s best for the company but also for the employees creating a workplace that employees love. By building a strategy that aligns with business goals and company values, your strategy can positively fuel your company culture and lead to additional benefits like higher employee engagement and retention.
Talent management strategy examples
Several successful companies have made news in talent management for thinking outside the box to implement new, more effective talent management strategies. Here are three examples.
In 2016, Adobe ended the formal employee performance review process, opting instead for regular check-ins between employees and their managers. Adobe managers were pleased to be relieved of the extensive paperwork performance reviews required of them. Employees with high-performance records expressed that they felt more valued than ever before. Those employees requiring improvements felt more encouraged by regular check-ins. It improved communication between all employees.
The telecommunications world that AT&T helped create was quickly approaching obsolescence. In 2016, it addressed this problem not by mass layoffs and new tech hires, but by retraining its own workforce. At least half of its 280,000 workers (who had a median of 22 years with the company) were assigned new roles, receiving free training and credentials needed to fill them.
This seismic company shift required that AT&T overhaul its compensation plan and performance metrics. For AT&T, the cost of recruiting and training new hires while losing scores of existing employees was too high.
Danone has been an organization exemplifying the concept of “people-centricity” since 1997. In 2011, it began a successful coaching program. Like AT&T, Danone UK decided to bet on its existing employees for its future success.
All senior leaders became accredited business coaches in 2012, which vastly improved their relationships with direct reports. All employees are now stakeholders. Danone’s score on the high-performing companies’ index had jumped 10 points by 2016. This combined with its 2021 push for diversity and inclusion in all company operations proves Danone to be one of the foremost world organizations in putting people first.
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