Felicia Shakiba
September 7, 2023
10 min

What is Talent Management and How to Design a Winning Strategy

What is Talent Management?

As the former Global Head of Talent Management at Harman International, a Samsung company, I led the talent management implementation and strategy for employees globally that could attract, develop, retain, and manage employees to achieve long-term organizational goals. They buckets of talent management include (but may vary): Talent Acquisition, Succession Planning, Learning & Development, and Performance Management. Here are some key considerations that helped shape the talent management strategy within the Professional Solutions division and the entire organization.

Talent Management Strategic Considerations

Align needs with business goals

The talent management strategy should align with the overall business goals and objectives. It was critical to understand the business strategy and identify the skills and competencies required to achieve the goals. For example, if you’re scaling your talent and are going through a hiring sprint, the candidate experience and new hire on-boarding will be critical for both potential hires and hiring managers. Prepare your managers for both of these processes and ensure they understand how to evaluate talent and how to on-board them for success.  

Identify key roles

HR should identify key or critical roles within the organization and develop plans to attract, develop, and retain top talent in these roles. Many organizations might look at today’s key competencies and skills for the business, but let’s not forget to look at future needs. For example, if you are building a responsive website with React for your current customer, yet the trend you’re seeing is that most customers are moving to mobile for their solutions, you will need to think about roles that currently don’t exit in the organization, like mobile developers. Having the ability to think about the future is crucial in identifying the critical skills and competencies required for these roles. Next steps might include creating career paths that will help employees develop these skills that align with the future needs of the business.

Build a talent pipeline

HR should create a talent pipeline that ensures the organization has a steady supply of skilled and competent employees that could be sourced externally or internally. This includes developing strategies to attract and retain top talent, as well as identifying potential successors for key roles, also known as succession planning. Depending on the company culture, succession planning is either once or twice a year. Promotions can also occur sporadically if someone leaves unexpectedly. 

Develop employee skills

The talent management strategy should include plans for developing employee skills and competencies. This can include providing training, coaching, and mentoring programs, as well as offering opportunities for job rotations and stretch assignments. Career development is a key driver for retention, especially when you’re focused on high potentials, also known as “HIPO’s.” A HIPO program is one that identifies those who are high performers and have high potential for the next role, which could be above their current role, or a horizontal move. The HIPO program is meant to prepare the identified HIPO’s for their new role to create a more successful transition. 

Shakiba's 4-pillars of performance management

Finally, a comprehensive talent management strategy should include a robust performance management solution that aligns employee goals with the organization's goals. This includes setting clear performance expectations, providing regular feedback, and linking performance to rewards and recognition. As the former Global Head of Performance Management for WPP, a 100k employee organization, I an can affirm that an organization’s performance strategy is a key driver for company culture. It sets the expectations of what to accomplish and how to behave. A strong, successful strategy will include “Shakiba’s 4 Pillars of Performance”: goal creation, evaluation, conversations, and rewards and recognition. Ultimately, the strategy will break if any one of these four pillars are not thoughtfully included. This theory was designed when I was assessing organizational performance readiness for each of WPP’s corporate office and it’s 13 largest subsidiaries. 

Where to Begin the Talent Management Strategy

To determine the most impactful talent management practices to focus on, HR can use the following approaches:

Launch an employee survey for data analytics

HR can use data analytics to identify patterns and trends in employee behavior and performance. This can include analyzing employee turnover, performance metrics, and engagement surveys to identify areas for improvement. Many organizations will look at the bottom items on a survey that are the least favorable. However, you can identify a different focus when reviewing items that are most unfavorable. I’d recommend identifying your top 3-4 critical areas that are most unfavorable. These could take anywhere from 6-months to 1 year to improve, and you will need to conduct quarterly or bi-annual surveys to record progress of whether or not your solutions are working. Keep in mind that I have yet to see a survey tool to filter for most unfavorable, so you might have to d the analysis manually if you take this approach.

Benchmark  competitive employers

HR can benchmark against other organizations to identify best practices. This involves researching and analyzing the talent management practices of other organizations and adapting those practices to fit the organization's needs and be competitive as an employer. The best way to gather this data is by looking at your competitor’s employer brand via LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and their career websites, and ask current employees who formerly worked at these organizations. 

Gather employee feedback

HR can gather feedback from employees on their current experiences within the organization. This can include conducting surveys or focus groups to identify areas of improvement and areas where the organization is excelling.

Seek a talent management expert's opinion

HR can seek the opinions of experts to identify the most impactful practices. This can involve consulting with industry experts, attending conferences, or reading industry publications.

Ultimately, HR should prioritize the talent management practices that align with the organization's goals and values and have the greatest impact on employee engagement, retention, and performance.

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