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Do We Get Talent Management?

Do We Get Talent Management?

Lorrie Lykins and Carol Morrison

November 02, 2009

So there’s good news and not-so-great news about talent management™: On the positive side, organizations – especially top performers – recognize that operating in silos restricts their ability to respond quickly to changing business needs. A holistic approach to talent management has become mission-critical. Some organizations have already plunged full speed into integrated TM, but with mixed results.

The bottom line is this: We get the message about the importance of TM, but when it comes to practical application, most organizations haven’t yet gotten it right.

Most companies that say they are working in earnest at integrated talent management readily acknowledge that they don’t do it very well. Commissioned by ASTD, i4cp’s Talent Management Practices and Opportunities survey found only one in five respondents reporting that their organizations manage talent effectively to a high or very high degree, a clear indication that there’s ample room for improvement in gaining proficiency in talent management.

Sometimes the road to high performance begins with recognition of the obstacles that are holding us back.

i4cp’s research has identified a handful of major stumbling blocks that are keeping companies from managing talent effectively. Addressed in detail in our new Talent Management Playbook, those challenges include slapdash strategic planning (if any), poor internal communication about TM, ambiguous leadership and insufficient training for managers.

Some may argue that it’s the rule rather than the exception that most companies start down the TM path without a clear plan, making effective execution impossible. Successful TM implementation begins with clearly defined outcomes that align with the overall business strategy.

Organizational strategy also dictates the focus on functions to be integrated: recruitment, retention, compensation, succession planning, learning and development, performance management, or more. Indeed, i4cp’s survey revealed that the need to execute strategy is the leading driver of organizations’ desire to improve at TM – even among companies that are effective talent managers already.

Clear messaging about the purpose, goals and value of TM is key: Companies need to first define what TM means, determine which employee groups should be targeted, and then communicate this clearly across the organization. For example, most companies focus TM on “pivotal talent,” but the meaning of the term can differ widely from one organization to another.

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