Talent management is a growing field in the world of human resources, and can make the difference between a mediocre company culture and an excellent one.
In a study from McKinsey, organizations with strong talent management practices outperformed competitors and generated higher ROI for shareholders.
Your talent management strategy will differ depending on factors like your industry or company size, but there are many best practices in the talent management process that you can learn from in order to create the best possible talent management strategy.
In this article, we’ll go over what a talent management strategy is, and the steps to create a strategy that will help you attract, retain and develop top talent.
What is a talent management strategy?
Let’s start off and define what talent management is.
Talent management is getting the right talent onboard, delivering an employee experience that aligns with their competencies and the organization's business strategy, and ensuring the best talent is able to grow and stays at the organization.
To take influence from the excellent book Good To Great, the goal of your talent management strategy will be to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats.
There are four main areas of focus in regards to a talent management strategy:
- Planning—The stage of determining your business goals and addressing the skill gaps in your talent pool.
- Attraction & Recruitment—Attracting and sourcing the best talent for your organization and how to get them into the right roles.
- Development—Continuing to build the skills of workers through additional training and development opportunities. This also includes the onboarding process for when a new role is filled.
- Retention—Seeking to understand what motivates employees to stay and continue their work. This includes aspects like employee engagement, initiatives like benefits and perks.
Related Read: 10 Best Talent Management Systems For HR In 2023
What are the benefits of a talent management strategy?
With the right talent management strategy in place, your organization can receive the following benefits:
- A better understanding of your business goals and how new roles will help fill any skill gaps.
- A better understanding of what your onboarding process needs to look like in order to improve.
- A clearer outline of what you need when looking for top performers and potential leaders.
- Higher employee retention.
- Improved employee engagement, productivity and company culture.
Taking time to think about and implement the right talent management strategy will help you gain a competitive advantage over competitors
How to develop a talent management strategy
I mentioned earlier the four stages of talent management strategy that you want to focus on. Let’s break these down further.
Before you begin the hiring process for a new role, you first need to iron out your strategic priorities to determine what you’re looking for.
With your HR team, you need to sit down, come up with, and agree on the business goals and skill gaps within your organization.
From there, you can decide the key components of any new role and be crystal clear in the skill sets that you’re looking for.
After that, you can get more into the nitty-gritty with job descriptions, sourcing etc.
Attraction and recruitment
Once you have your plan laid out and agreed upon, you now need to get the word out on filling that role aka talent acquisition.
One important thing to consider for this stage is if the role itself is best suited for hiring from within, or if you are looking externally for the role. Data shows that organizations that achieve business success tend to hire from within regarding leadership levels.
If you’re looking externally, you’ll need to coordinate with the HR department on getting the word out for the role. Also, you’ll want to let staff know internally that you’re looking to see if they have anyone that they could recommend in regards to the role.
Depending on your employer brand, getting a large talent pool to apply for the role may come to your organization easily, or be a bit more of a challenge.
If you’re having difficulty attracting the best talent for you—and let’s face it most of us are—here’s a great guide to improving your employer brand.
If your HR managers need further help with recruitment, check out our pick of the 10 Best Talent Acquisition Software for Recruitment Pros, or our list of the 10 Best Online Recruiting Software Tools.
Now that you have the right talent aboard, it pays to give them room to grow and develop. If you’re not willing to invest here, don’t be surprised if talented employees are ‘getting off the bus’ ’and looking for greener pastures. Let’s look at some of the areas to consider in regards to development.
Many organizations lack a quality onboarding process. It’s common for new talent to come aboard then feel like they’re being taken for granted and not stick around for very long.
The onboarding experience is often an employee's first extended interaction with their new employer and should set the foundation for long-term success.
I can go on here at length about ways on improving your employee onboarding process. If you’re looking for some of the best tools in regards to onboarding, consider the following:
- Developing your preboarding program
- A 30 60 90 Day Plan
- The Entry Interview
- A Buddy/Mentoring program
- Developing a new employee handbook
It’s recommended that you have a quality LMS (Learning Management System) in place for onboarding.
I’ve written an article here on the subject: How A Learning Management System Can Benefit Your Business.
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Small Businesses
- Key Learning Management System (LMS) Features You Need To Know
It’s common for organizations to hit a bit of a wall regarding employee development. Talented employees leave organizations if they don’t have access to interesting projects or to learn new skills.
With the right talent strategy, there are many ways you can avoid falling into this pitfall. Here are some you can make use of:
- Offering employees a budget for professional development.
- Creating a development plan with employees (a great time to do this is in their 30-60-90 day plan)
- Development of employee metrics for indicators of success.
- Performance management (check out our article here in regards to best practices for performance management)
- Continuous feedback on employee performance.
Alongside onboarding, having a quality LMS will also make the above much easier to measure, track, and achieve.
A quick note on succession planning.
There will always be a point at any organization where the departure of a key employee will happen. This could be someone like a VP or a CEO.
In order to minimize the impact that such an event has, succession planning is something you want in put in place as part of your talent management strategy.
This means adopting a systematic approach for identifying and developing a pool of potential candidates to replace who’s left.
If you’ve put your work into your onboarding process and created development opportunities for your best talent, then your employee retention should be fairly easy to maintain.
With the rise in remote work since early 2020, the flexibility of remote work has steadily risen as a very important perk for employees.
Even as things have since settled down, many employees are willing to leave their current positions and join organizations that are more generous with remote flexibility.
This isn’t going to change since many employees have gotten to (mostly) enjoy the experience of remote work. If you want to attract the top talent pool for a new role, this is something that you’re going to be aware of.
In fact, a good tactic might be to keep an eye on which companies are demanding employees return to the office and then headhunting their top talent.
When key employees leave, as part of their offboarding you’ll want to gather as much information as possible about their reason for leaving and use feedback to improve the employee experience for those that remain and new joiners
There can be a million different reasons for their leaving. By conducting an exit interview with open-ended questions, you can identify trends for the cause of leaving, what needs to be considered for the next person filling the role, and ways to improve your company culture.
Here are a handful of questions you can ask during these exit interviews:
- What are some things that you wished we implemented that we didn’t?
- Tell me what led up to the moment that made you decide to leave/retire.
- If you could do things differently with the role, what would you change?
Try using the 5 Whys technique for getting to the real reason for someone’s departure.
Related Read: 25 Useful Exit Interview Questions + Template
An example of a successful talent management strategy
Now that we’ve talked about talent management strategies in-depth, let’s take a look at a great example from Apple.
Apple university for succession planning
When Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple passed away in 2011, many were concerned how
Apple would do without him. But, under the leadership of Tim Cook, Apple has continued to prosper.
Part of the reason for this smooth transition is due to Apple University, established to help retain top talent, keep the vision of Steve Job’s Apple alive, and develop employees.
This was how Tim Cook was decided to be the CEO upon the death of Steve Jobs. Tim has used Apple University to help create as many successors to his role as possible. When asked about this, Tim said the following:
“I see my role as CEO to prepare as many people as I can to be CEO, and that’s what I’m doing. And then the board makes a decision at that point in time.”
With that, I hope you have a better understanding on how implementing a concerted talent management strategy can benefit your organization.
Perhaps you already have one in place, or you’re looking to get started. In either case, I encourage you to always be aware of the skill gaps that exist in your organization, and how you can fill them.
Technology can help too, check out our pick of the best talent management platforms on the market today.