Talent Management

As potential employees look for opportunities that include benefits beyond standard compensation, how do organizations ensure that they are doing everything necessary to attract the best candidates for available positions? Once that candidate is on board, how do you foster an environment for individual professional growth while assessing leadership potential?

Talent management is a relatively new concept, but a critical strategy that can be mutually beneficial for the organization and the employee if implemented properly.

What is Talent Management?

According to ASTD Research in Frontline Leaders: Developing Tomorrow’s Executives, talent management is an awareness and understanding of all the talent within an organization. This awareness includes recognizing what roles are needed and how they are distributed. A talent management plan includes a “focus on leadership development using assessments, but also on hiring and selecting employees at every level of the organization.” This approach can provide an organization with a strong pipeline of prospective leadership at all levels.

Identifying top talent and recommending development actions for future leadership roles are critical elements of the talent management strategy at University of Pennsylvania Health Systems. According to Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Learning Officer Judy Schueler, once individuals are identified as high potential, they are placed on a talent list and discussed at an annual talent assessment dialogue. After these discussions, individuals may be invited to a series of leadership programs to further assess and properly engage them in action plans.

"We have a multi-pronged approach to attracting, developing, and keeping talent," Schueler states. “We prefer to call it Talent Scouting and Mobilization.” Organizational leaders are continually observing and assessing talent. Identified employees are engaged in the action plans through community volunteer opportunities, action services teams, on-site degree programs, and rotational programs.

TrainingPros Relationship Manager Jim Deeds stresses a holistic approach to talent management with his clients and the importance of building culture, engagement, capability, and capacity. "In day-to-day terms," he shares, "talent management is seen as the decisions and programs that we deploy to develop and evaluate the right people to drive the right business objectives at the right time."

Integration with HR and L&D

As Director of Organizational Development for Rappahannock Goodwill Industries (RGI), Albert Darlington recognizes that he can’t select candidates for positions available now based on skills the company may need three years from now. “You can’t have a talent management conversation without Learning & Development (L&D),” says Darlington. The solution is to develop long-term relationships with the staff already working for your company. “L&D is part of the long-term strategy,” he continues. If an L&D plan is put into place in order to develop a career path for that individual, the plan itself will help facilitate the relationship component of talent management.

At RGI, Darlington works to build long-term engagement with employees that will in turn build long-term capacity development for the community. “We help individuals reach their goals so the organization can meet its goals of creating great futures in our community,” he states. He provides the example of tuition reimbursement, which RGI offers to employees. "We believe it helps RGI reach our long-term goals by investing in individuals," he says. In an ideal setting, Darlington also recommends highly efficient technology and integrated systems for L&D and talent management. A well-organized and functional database or information system will prevent organizations from being restricted based on the limitations of technology.

Deeds agrees that integration is essential. “Successfully identifying, placing, and managing talent and performance in any organization requires a strong connection to targeted and effective L&D,” he says.

Deeds envisions an ideal state of integration as an L&D strategy fully based on the overall talent management strategy. "The talent management strategy would determine the learning needs, investments, and development options that are critical to the business," he states. "L&D would also be very specific to providing key knowledge and skills throughout the talent pipeline, and it would be very clear as to what was required learning versus open enrollment options so that the talent management strategy is maximized." He believes that this approach is especially critical for senior leadership and executive development.

Future Trends and Challenges

Creating an effective and efficient talent management plan comes with its own set of challenges. In 2014, RGI will review the reasons behind the organization’s turnover, the natural outcome of which will be questions about talent management. “We need to be more cognizant of what opportunities are enticing folks to leave RGI,” Darlington says.

Additionally, considerations must be made as generations change. “The way technology is embedded in the younger generation is changing how we work,” Darlington states. Also, this new generation entering the work force is increasingly more interested in and concerned with how employers fit within the community. How does the organization demonstrate outcomes to show these potential employees that the company is a boost to the community? “We are not in this alone, and that will become more important as the new generation infiltrates workforce positions," he says.

How top leadership views talent management versus L&D can present a unique challenge. “Many business leaders still equate L&D with talent management,” Deeds states. Leadership needs to recognize that talent management is the larger set of organizational processes to acquire, develop, retain, and reward talented employees who will drive the business forward. They also need to prioritize that these processes require significant L&D. Deeds feels that organizations that do not delegate talent management as a “human resources activity” will be the most successful. "I believe best practices organizations in talent management understand that managing talent itself is a critical aspect of leadership and business management," says Deeds. "They get that talent management discipline and integrated activities are key to profitable operations."

Thanks to contributors who shared their insight and expertise for this article:
Albert Darlington, Director, Organizational Development, Rappahannock Goodwill
- Interviewed by Laura Sharon, Relationship Manager, TrainingPros
Jim Deeds, Relationship Manager, TrainingPros
Judy Schueler, Vice President HR and Chief Learning Officer, University of Pennsylvania Health Systems
- Interviewed by Robin Stein Rodin, Relationship Manager, TrainingPros

About TrainingPros

TrainingPros works closely with learning and development departments of large organizations to identify, attract, and support leading contract specialists for focused training and development engagements. A proprietary on-boarding process led by experienced relationship managers helps ensure the right personnel for the job.

If you would like more information about TrainingPros’ expertise in talent management, change management, organization development, or any other services we offer our clients, please go to the TrainingPros Services page.

TrainingPros President Steve Kapaun welcomes your feedback.