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Talent Management: A Q & A With Jim Deeds

Talent Management: A Q & A With Jim Deeds

TrainingPros often calls on local thought leaders who are clients or industry luminaries to weigh in on L&D trends, strategies, and best practices. Sometimes we look inward to our current or former team members to weigh in on these important topics. Jim Deeds is one of those team members.

Jim Deeds is a former TrainingPros relationship manager and the owner/operator of Deeds Consulting, LLC. Jim is a human resource development professional with broad experience in supporting key business strategies by deploying an array of organizational, talent, and learning development initiatives and processes. 

We recently sat down with Jim to discuss the intersection and importance of talent management and L&D.

How does L&D fit within the overall talent management structure?

Traditionally, a dedicated L&D team/set of resources is part of the central talent management structure/organization – which is usually comprised Organizational Effectiveness (OE) (performance management, succession planning, engagement etc.) resources and OD teams (organizational change, org. design, team effectiveness etc.). L&D is most effective when it works in close conjunction with OE & OD.

How much integration is there between L&D and talent management?
It's important to strive for a great deal of integration between the two. Successfully identifying, placing and managing talent and performance in any organization requires a strong connection to targeted and effective L&D.

What does “talent management” mean within organizations where you have worked?
We promoted a textbook definition in order to set a standard, agreed-upon definition as we drove talent management initiatives: "Talent management is a holistic approach to optimizing human capital that enables an organization to drive short- and long-term results by building culture, engagement, capability, and capacity through integrated talent acquisition, development, and deployment processes that are aligned to business goals.” In day-to-day terms, talent management was seen as the decisions and programs that we deployed to develop and evaluate the right people to drive the right business objectives at the right time.

How was individual performance measured within the organization?
It used rather standard approaches in measuring individual performance annually; we had an equally weighted assessment of performance/achievement against individual goals/objectives (ideally aligned to team, department, function and company objectives) and demonstration of core set of values and/or organizational behaviors.

How does the L&D function build in learning beyond training events and tools, including on-the job reinforcement, manager conversations, etc.?
L&D is and should be the key mechanism in the organization to drive and support continuous learning. L&D teams were integral in “coaching the coaches” in order to enable mangers to give feedback, focus on development for employees, participate in co-facilitation of leadership programs etc. Also we were integral in developing job aids, reinforcement tools, online support etc., to serve as learning reinforcement. Although L&D teams I have led to this point have not had much experience or success in leveraging social media or smart device technology, I believe it provides the best opportunity to have the most impact on developing high impact learning than any approach that I have seen to date.

How much interaction does L&D have with overall HR/talent management efforts?
In the organizations I have been in, L&D has had significant interaction, but not always for the right reasons. Often, organizations believe they are “doing talent management” when they provide training/learning. Although L&D is a critical aspect of talent management, it is just part of a larger whole. But as such, L&D, in my experience, has had a good deal of interaction with and exposure in HR programs and deliverables.

What would the ideal state be for L&D/talent management integration?
The ideal would be to execute an L&D strategy fully based on an overall talent management strategy that would determine the learning needs, investments, and development options that are critical to the business. L&D would also be very specific to providing key knowledge and skills throughout the talent pipeline and very clear as to what was required learning vs. open enrollment options, again so that the talent management strategy is maximized. When the organization makes talent investments, they would simultaneously approve investments in value-added L&D.

What do you foresee as the path ahead in terms of L&D working with/integrating with talent management?
L&D has to be part of the overall talent management strategy and will best move forward by continuing to find ways to deliver non-traditional and just-in-time learning options while at the same time maintaining formal L&D options and programs as well, especially for senior leadership and executive development.

How does top leadership view “talent management” vs. “L&D”?
I'm not so sure that most see the difference very well. Many business leaders still equate L&D with talent management. For those who do differentiate, they realize that talent management is the larger set of organizational processes to acquire develop, retain, and reward the talent they need to drive the business, and to do that requires significant L&D. 

What do you foresee as trends ahead in terms of how organizations can better integrate L&D and talent management?
I believe best-practice organizations in talent management understand that managing talent itself, is a critical aspect of leadership and business management. They get that talent management discipline and integrated activities are key to profitable operations. As such, there is a trend in developing leaders who are adept at the identification and development of talent and see that as one of a manager’s business responsibilities. From a trend perspective, those organizations that embed talent management resources and structures that enable business leaders to own and drive talent management – and not delegate it as a “HR activity” – are and will be the most successful. Since L&D is a key element of an integrated talent management framework, it will continue to be important to organizational success – as long as it presents cost-effective and timely options to the business.

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