It goes without saying that every organization wants to hire and retain highly talented, skilled, and educated staff. But keeping highly talented younger employees on board isn’t easy in the current labor market, especially if you operate in a sector or industry where professionals are spoiled for choice!
This is why it’s important to focus not only on recruitment, but also on talent management.
But what do we mean exactly by ‘talent’?
When we hear the word ‘talent’ we generally think of the abilities of top athletes, film stars, successful entrepreneurs, or music entertainers. Nonetheless, talent also plays a key role in the workplace.
In broad terms, we generally talk about two types of talent:
The first and most common definition is that of a natural aptitude for a certain sport, art, or profession. In this sense, it’s a natural gift that someone has had since they were a small child. Often, they’re traits inherited from one or both parents. Athletic and musical talents are prime examples.
Companies often view talent from the perspective of potential and ROI. In this sense, talented individuals are those with an above-average potential or those who outperform their co-workers thanks to a wider range of knowledge, skills, and abilities.
These staff members often provide a higher ROI than other employees.
In this respect, their talents go beyond a natural talent. Traits such as drive or abilities to communicate, organize, and inspire and motivate others all form part of the bigger picture.
So, what’s talent management?
Merely attracting talented staff isn’t enough – you need to nurture and capitalize on their talent to the fullest extent possible. This is where talent management plays a crucial role.
Done right, you’ll discover that your organization will perform at a higher level than the sum of its parts. Talent management addresses the complete spectrum of HR processes and HR tools that your company uses to recruit, train, motivate, and retain talented employees.
Your workforce’s talents are, therefore, a vital human asset that can give your organization an added competitive advantage.
Putting together a talent management strategy
To implement a solid talent management program, you need a sound strategy. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on answering the following questions when putting together your strategy:
1. What are your organization’s aspirations and objectives?
Step 1 involves mapping your organization’s long-term aspirations and objectives and making these ‘measurable’. Only then will you know if you’re on the right track.
If turnover among your most talented staff is relatively high, then you’ll know for starters that ongoing professional development is an issue to be addressed. Often, paying better attention to onboarding is a good first move.
2. What’s your focus?
When implementing talent management, you can choose to focus on any one of several areas.
For example, employer branding. This involves showcasing your organization as being a pleasant and reliable workplace and employer.
Naturally, your focus is then ensuring you create and cultivate a pleasant and professional working environment, combined with opportunities for professional development and an appealing package of fringe benefits. Alternatively, you could opt to focus on salary (you pay better salaries than the competition) or on reputation (you’re the market leader in your industry).
3. How are you different from the competition?
Unfortunately, you’re not the only company looking for talented staff. What’s more, they’re fishing in the same pond as you. This means that getting and staying one step ahead of your competition needs to be a major part of your talent management strategy.
Make sure your organization’s distinctive qualities are a key focus of your policies, for example extensive professional development opportunities, optimal workforce performance, or high retention levels.
4. How can you monitor and improve?
To take talent management to a higher level, it’s vital that you constantly monitor and improve its use.
Are you managing to retain those talented employees you’re eager to have stay on board? And do you know how to keep them on board for the longer term? A talent management dashboard can help you keep track.
Horses for courses
Your strategy for implementing talent management relies to a lesser or greater extent on your organization’s definition of a ‘talent’.
If you view talent as an accumulation of natural traits, then it would be logical to adopt a personal development approach, as this encourages your employees to make the most of their innate talents.
However, if you view talent more as a potential, ROI, or asset, then you might opt to adopt one of the following strategies:
- Potential – encourage and motivate employees to show their full value and potential to your organization.
- Development – focus on social interaction to cultivate employee development through work and cooperation. Working and learning are key ingredients for growth and development, which is why providing learning opportunities is vital, for example on-the-job training, challenging projects, online courses, workshops, and feedback sessions.
- ROI – focus on returns and gains by optimizing learning processes and improving human processes and interactions.
Talent management tips
Even though you can implement talent management in one of several ways, there are a few best practices that can help you build a solid foundation:
1. Convey your mission and vision clearly and concisely
Today’s professionals are looking for more than just a job title, salary, and convenient location. A company’s mission and vision are equally important when choosing a new employer. So, communicate clearly what you stand for as an organization.
Highly talented individuals largely base their decisions on a company’s image and their personal job prospects. If you don’t come across as being a great, reliable, and strong place to work, then chances are they’ll look elsewhere for a potential employer.
2. Be clear about flexible working options and professional development opportunities
Talented employees value flexibility and professional development, so it’s important to be clear what is and isn’t possible in these respects. Does your organization provide and pay for opportunities for staff to follow additional training programs or courses? And do you allow them the flexibility to work when and where they want, as long as they meet agreed deadlines?
“I’ve often mentioned how my current role no longer provides any challenge, but management doesn’t take me seriously.” It’s often your more highly talented employees who are most likely to say this or make a similar comment. If you want to keep high flyers in your company, then you’d be wise to listen carefully to what they have to say.
Inquire about their ambitions, motivations, wishes, and insights. But more importantly do something with this valuable information. The employees in question will feel you’re taking them seriously.
4. Reduce staff turnover
High staff turnover among your most talented employees is a bad sign. It’s a wake-up call telling you that you’re not living up to their expectations.
Fortunately, it’s something you can tackle effectively by adopting the right approach and using the right tools. Make sure you find out why people are leaving and stay alert to the tell-tale signs of a pending departure. Read more about staff turnover and how to deal with it more effectively.
Use skills management software for greater clarity
A key ingredient for successful talent management is making sure that your workforce’s talents are acknowledged and visible to the entire organization. And the best news of all is that there are tools available to help you do just this.
A prime example is AG5’s skills management software. You can use our software to keep track of your employees’ professional development. What’s more, you can share current information about their skills and competences with managers and supervisors quickly and easily.