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Talent management – An overview

Facilitators of exit interviews across the UK will tell you that the most common reason for leaving a current employer is not, contrary to popular belief, due to pay and benefits issues; rather, it is due to lack of progression. It’s true. What’s more, many individuals will take a pay cut in the short term if it means their career aspirations are met.  
This leaves many businesses, in the current economic climate, finding their budgets increasingly stretched by the costs associated with necessary recruitment drives. If all employees want is progression, then why aren’t more businesses accommodating their requests? Probably the roles aren’t vacant yet. 
That’s where talent management (TM) comes in. 
This essential tool is a management process by which individuals can be nurtured, for want of a better word, into the senior staff of the future. Incorporating development, performance enhancement and succession planning, TM is a method that demonstrates the recognition of potential in an employee and the fact that, though an appropriate position does not exist, or the individual is not yet quite ready, the company is willing to invest time into making sure the individual will soon progress as per a defined career path. 
Talent is defined by the CIPD as the individuals who can make a difference to organisational performance, either in the long term or immediately through their day to day contributions. TM is the attraction, development and engagement of these individuals. 
TM is a bargaining tool with which businesses can retain key staff. It now often appears high up on the company’s list of priorities due to a combination of skills shortages in the job market and the competitive demand for talented staff externally which could lure individuals away. 
The business wide use of TM can result in competitive advantage through creating a high performance (high productivity) culture and via continuous improvement and development of processes and the workforce. Use of the process can also enhance a company’s reputation as a ‘good employer’, which could generate a higher calibre of speculative job applications.
The process can include the entire workforce or an individual with specific skills as and when the need arises, but it must be fair and it’s worth involving your HR specialists to ensure consistency with other related HR policies, that considerations around diversity have been factored in and that a robust evaluation method has been included. 
There ought to be a shared understanding between the business and its talent about what the process entails and what the end result ultimately will look like. Don’t make promised that cannot be kept. Do engage managers at every level and provide support. Remember, organisational success could depend on it. 
Stephen Smith is a consultant of planning, talent and learning management software. For more information on Talent management, please visit Saba Software Inc’s website at http://www.saba.com
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