Talent Management: 7 Steps & 8 Best Practices For Your Own Process
Talent management is a term that gets tossed around quite a bit in organizations today.
People in leadership positions are constantly talking about the importance of talent management and how they need to improve their processes. Or what they should do to define and execute their talent management strategy.
We have all experienced problems in talent management.
- But where do these issues come from?
- What is involved in a talent management process?
- And how can we improve?
If you are an HR professional, a talent manager, or leader who wants to thrive in their business by effectively managing their workforce, this article is for you.
👨💼 What is talent management?
Talent management is a group of HR processes that helps organizations identify, develop and retain top talent. It's a key component of human resources, and its effective implementation ensures an organization has the people it needs to stay in business and thrive.
"Talent management is the attraction, selection, and retention of employees, which involves a combination of HR processes across the employee life cycle." – Gartner.
The primary goal behind having a talent management process is to build a highly-skilled and engaged workforce that works efficiently and effectively to achieve business goals.
🔍 What are the key areas of talent management?
Rebecca Murray, Vice President at Illumiti, discusses talent management and identifies 6 process areas:
- Performance & Goals;
- Succession and Development.
We will talk about each of these areas in depth later.
📈 What is a talent management strategy?
A talent management strategy is the overall plan and approach that defines how an organization intends to recruit, develop and retain top talent. The strategy also includes the company's approach to succession planning.
"The talent management strategy is the bait used to attract the right talent; the talent management process is the "apprenticeship and adaptation period" to get your new hire ready to take on their new role successfully.
Talent management prepares the person for their position, optimizes skills, and ties it into the culture, which influences actions, ultimately retaining and transitioning talent to thrive in a company's unique ecosystem while keeping its cultural objectives in mind." Tasha Bell, Forbes HR Contributor and Senior Manager of Learning, Development, and Branding at Crescent.
There are many different ways to approach talent management.
Your choice of approach will be dependent on various factors like budget, organization size, and culture.
For example, some companies may only focus on a job applicant's skills and experience. Others might assess whether the candidate will fit well with the organization's culture.
The way an enterprise organization approaches talent management will be different from that of a bootstrapped startup.
For example, large firms have the resources to train underperforming employees for months or the budget to pay employees not assigned to any billable projects. But most early-stage bootstrapped startups won't.
Tip: Find a system that works for your organization and that you can commit to long-term. But that doesn't mean you should not review and update the strategy to remain relevant.
👀 Talent management examples
Suppose mid-level managers at your organization struggle to retain or effectively lead employees. Month after month, the talent team is seeing an increase in the attrition rate.
The HR team cannot figure out the gap even after multiple meetings with the employees, managers, and leadership. After conducting a training needs assessment, the team discovers that recently promoted managers don't have the skills to lead and engage remote teams.
The L&D team then creates development plans for those managers. Over the next few months, the attrition rate shows a downward trend.
The above example is an illustration of effective talent management.
Identifying critical business roles and top performers and rewarding them to increase retention is another illustration of effectively managing the workforce.
Redeployment or hiring internally for related roles is another talent management example.
Suppose a media entity of a conglomerate is closing down due to slow growth. Instead of firing everyone, they can redeploy people to other entities of the parent organization.
For example, people who had job responsibilities as journalists can be moved to marketing as marketing teams can benefit from a journalist's writing and researching skills.
In short, managing talent is about aligning the workforce to business goals, keeping employees engaged, and resolving issues that hamper performance.
❗️ What is the importance of effective talent management in 2022?
The days of working in the same job for decades are long gone. Most people quit jobs once every few years, and the war for talent is getting even more competitive.
With the rise of the gig economy and the flexibility it offers, more and more people are transitioning to freelance positions, making recruitment harder for companies.
Add mass job-quitting movements like the Great Resignation to an HR professional's woes.
The US annual employee turnover will likely jump by nearly 20% from the pre-pandemic yearly average, according to Gartner.
So, how can companies hire and retain the best talents?
You can hire and retain the best talents by having systematic talent management strategies and processes that attract top performers and keep them motivated toward organizational goals.
If your company doesn't have effective talent management models and systems, now is the time to start planning one.
Here are some essential benefits of effective talent management:
- Helps in recruitment: A talent management process can help you identify any gaps in the skills of your workforce. You might end up creating new roles in the company and will know what skills to prioritize when recruiting new candidates.
- Increases employee engagement: It also helps to engage and motivate employees, leading to increased productivity and improved performance.
- Helps to create a feedback culture: Standard processes can help assess employees' skills and experience. HR and managers can use this information to assign projects based on employees' strengths and share constructive feedback. This will help your employees constantly grow their skills and productivity.
- Enables the creation of effective L&D plans: A documented process can help you to create effective learning and development plans and improve employees' skills and performance.
- Helps in performance management: A strategy can help set clear objectives and expectations for employees. Setting required performance standards also give direction during appraisals and contribute to the overall success of your organization.
- Helps in succession planning: Planning for talent allows organizations to identify employees that show proactiveness and ability to take senior roles. This knowledge can help HR create a sustainable talent pipeline to account for retirements, frequent job hoppings, and promotions.
📝 What is a talent management model?
A talent management model is a conceptual framework that defines the various steps in the overall talent management process. They help organizations identify and manage talent gaps, measure performance, and align resources with business goals.
There is no single standard talent management model. However, the various used models share the same principles and use different terminologies.
Such flexible models allow for adaptability based on company needs and industry dynamics. They evolve as new technologies, customer demands, and other factors influence how businesses use their existing talent management systems.
AIHR links the phases of talent management to a customer's life cycle, which has five stages: acquisition, activation, revenue, referral, and retention.
1. Acquisition: As a business creates strategies and takes multiple steps to acquire customers, an organization must create a strong employer brand to attract top talent. People aspire to work for companies that have a positive image.
2. Activation: In the HR world, you activate employees by using systematic hiring and onboarding processes and focusing on the candidate experience.
As a recruiter, ask yourself these questions before you start the hiring process:
- How can I select the right people from the built talent pool?
- How to create a stellar candidate experience?
- What type of candidates can I filter out quickly?
The goal should be to hire the best people and treat the rejected candidates respectfully.
3. Revenue: As profits or revenue is the lifeline of any business, getting the best out of your employees is the core of the talent management process. Here are some ways you can use to increase your employees' productivity: investing in the workforce's career growth, providing learning & development opportunities, and effective performance management.
4. Referral: As word of mouth is the most trusted way to acquire more customers, employee referrals enable organizations to hire more quickly. Employees usually refer candidates they know personally or have worked with - reducing the chances of wrong hiring.
5. Retention: Every business aspires to have customers who buy from them repeatedly, as acquiring a new customer is expensive. Similarly, in HR, retention is about doing everything to keep your best performers and help to build a competitive advantage.
A talent management model provides a common language across an organization, so people have a shared understanding of the components of their job roles.
By defining these roles, employees can understand what they need to do daily to perform at their best and where they fit within the organization's strategic objectives.
At Zavvy, we use role cards. You can take advantage of this feature and ensure that:
- Team members align with their team lead.
- There is an overview of key competencies to focus on in a development plan.
- The feedback process is more transparent.
⚙️ 7 Steps to creating a talent management process that works for your organization
1. 🎯 Identify the talent needs and goals
The talent management process starts by identifying the business requirements, goals, and the people you'll need to fulfill them.
Do you want to increase the efficiency of your operations?
Is improving customer satisfaction the primary focus?
Is your organization planning to scale?
Assess the talent pipeline at your organization and decide the talent management initiatives you'll have to set up in alignment with business goals.
Katy Santen Sharon, a Leadership and organization development professional, says, "you need the right people with the right skills and in the right roles." She adds that business leaders and HR should work together to identify the required new roles.
Assess existing employees by conducting talent assessments to identify gaps in your talent pipeline or evaluate employees' readiness in contrast to the business requirements.
Tip #1: Compile all information for all stakeholders to access and understand. You can use a spreadsheet, but we recommend a talent management system to organize this data effectively.
Tip #2: You also need to quantify the goals. Rather than saying, "we will need to hire many people," come up with a specific number.
Tip #3: It's vital to set metrics so you can later analyze whether your talent management initiatives were a success or not.
Tip #4: Identify what information needs regular updates or changes so stakeholders can view it when needed.
2. 📝 Create a recruitment plan
Hiring is the next step after identifying the talent needs and goals.
Tip #1: Start with being specific about the roles you need to fill and the corresponding requirements.
Tip #2: Decide whether you want to hire internally or externally. There is a high chance you can take advantage of both internal and external hiring.
Tip #3: Create a list of skills, competencies, and work experiences an ideal candidate should have. You can speak to top performers in similar roles within your organization and identify the traits that make them stand out.
A strong employer branding strategy can make the recruitment process more manageable if you're hiring from outside.
A positive brand reduces hiring costs and attracts top talent as people want to work with great companies.
Here are some standard recruitment methods:
- Job postings;
- Employee referrals;
- Recruitment agencies;
- Social media outreach;
- Organizations' internal job portals (common in global enterprise firms).
Collate the job seekers' data and review the applications. Then, filter applicants for the subsequent levels based on their skills, work experience, and whether they will be a suitable fit for your organization.
Tip #4: Aspire to have two to three hiring stages, to get a complete picture of a candidate's abilities and potential. This will prevent unsuccessful hirings, which would be highly costly for your company.
But do what fits well with organizational needs.
The goal is to find the right person, not increase the employer count.
Tip #5: You can also use recruitment automation software to screen resumes, schedule interviews, and more.
If you wonder what the main advantage of taking the internal hiring route is, Bain & Company's research shows that most companies don't need to massively increase hiring for top-notch talent to stand out from the competition. They need to deploy their high-performing employees to business-critical roles better than competitors.
Plus, internal mobility is a great strategy to keep your workforce motivated, energized, and productive.
➡️ Want to get started with internal recruiting? First, check out our complete guide to internal interviews.
➡️ Want to go a step further? Then you have to review our sample 33 internal interview questions to ask your applicants.
3. 🚀 Structured employee onboarding
A structured employee onboarding keeps employees engaged from the start, reduces new hire downtime, and increases employee retention. It's also one of the most overlooked yet essential parts of your organization's overall talent management strategy.
A negative onboarding experience can make new hires twice as likely to look for other jobs.
The process can last for a few weeks or months. Most companies start the onboarding with a new hire orientation that may last for a few hours or days. Employees learn about the company culture and benefits, sign mandatory paperwork, and attend workshops on subjects like compliance training during orientation.
Some companies start onboarding initiatives when a person accepts the job offer, so even before the start date.
This is referred to as preboarding. It is a great strategy to avoid ghosting and help the new employee avoid first-day anxiety.
Many organizations have a haphazard onboarding process or none at all. This can confuse and frustrate new joiners, and they might leave your organization before even starting on any project.
You can use Zavvy to streamline your onboarding process within a few minutes. No spreadsheets, no unnecessary calls, or frequent follow-ups.
➡️ We have a collection of ready-to-use onboarding templates to help you start immediately.
4. 🌱 Focus on learning & development (L&D)
Employee learning and development (L&D) is integral to an effective talent management process and is crucial for sustaining a business in today's competitive market.
Focusing on employee development keeps the workforce engaged and increases productivity and profits. And having L&D initiatives is not just about getting the best out of your workforce; 94% of employees stay longer at a company if it invests in their growth.
A culture of learning and continuous improvement also attracts top talent, as people want to work at organizations that offer career growth opportunities.
Tip: You can use a skills matrix to gather data about employees' skills, competencies, and readiness for a project. Identify knowledge gaps by conducting a training needs assessment, and create an employee development plan to address the gaps.
Some learning and development methods are:
- Seminars and lectures;
- Job shadowing.
The most important thing to remember is that employees are a business's biggest asset. They have the power to drive business growth.
Yet, given current technological advances, employees need to keep training to stay relevant and productive.
❗️ The half-life of skills is 5 years, so you must invest in your employees to keep a competitive advantage.
5. 📊 Performance management
Performance management is the process of improving employee performance by aligning individual employee and team goals to the company's strategic goals.
But effective performance management is more than tracking employee performance. It also has a strong planning component: "planning performance to achieve the goals, reviewing and assessing progress, and developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of people."
So, the focus of evaluation and feedback is not only on performance improvement but also on competence development.
This idea is behind Zavvy's approach to feedback: tying feedback to growth plans and ensuring that constructive feedback sets the blueprint for career growth.
Tip #1: Set measurable goals and outcomes, track performance, and evaluate the employees based on the benchmarks.
Sharing feedback can take place in many ways, including annual reviews, formal feedback from supervisors or peers, and informal conversations with managers.
Tip #2: The leadership should promote scheduling regular one-on-one meetings to understand employees' roadblocks and resolve queries.
Tip #3: Managers or supervisors must use objective evaluation measures to avoid subjective biases. This also involves setting expectations for the future and discussing career progression.
➡️ Want to get proactive with employee feedback? Check out 20 best practices for employee feedback to create an engaging workplace culture.
6. 💸 Compensation and benefits
Compensation and benefits are vital components of a company's talent management system. They are crucial to attracting, motivating, and retaining employees.
Tip #1: Decide the salary based on employee performance, expertise, and role.
Tip #2: Design employee benefits that meet the needs of employees and their families. Consider, for example, including childcare, retirement savings, healthcare coverage, etc.
Tip #3: Reward the top-performing and talented employees to improve retention. It helps workers feel valued as part of your team and shows them that you reward performance, loyalty, specific skills, and competencies.
Plus, a reasonable compensation plan motivates employees to give their best and not look for opportunities elsewhere.
Tip #4: Celebrating employees isn't limited to just cash bonuses or salary increases.
Small gestures like giving them a Starbucks gift card or taking them out for dinner make workers feel special.
How about a company-wide day off to encourage your employees to get out and recharge their batteries?
Tip #5: You can also plan rewards and recognition (R&R) initiatives to promote a culture of healthy competition among team members. Initiatives like R&R show job applicants and employees that you will reward them for delivering results.
7. 🤝 Retention and succession planning
All your talent management efforts will go down the drain if you cannot retain your best employees.
Tip #1: Identify the factors that make some employees leave and others stay at your organization.
Tip #2: You can collect employee insights and reduce employee turnover with an employee retention survey.
Tip #3: Create a retention strategy. Use employee insights as a starting point to make changes and address employees' apprehensions.
If your employees leave because of a lack of growth opportunities, you know where you need to intervene.
On the other hand, if people leave because of your organizational culture, you have to get your leaders on board and start making dramatic changes.
"My best tip for creating a talent strategy and process is always to keep the culture in mind. The organization, the culture, and the brand will imminently influence and motivate people on their good and bad days, which is a large part of people retention.
People are complex, much like company culture. To thrive, you need to be 'planted' within suitable 'soil' and come with the behavioral patterns, beliefs, principles, and motivations to benefit equally." Tasha Bell, Forbes HR Contributor and Senior Manager of Learning, Development, and Branding at Crescent.
➡️ Need some extra inspiration? We've got you. Check out 25 employee retention best practices for keeping your best talents.
Succession planning ensures your organization has the talent it needs to succeed in the future. It starts with identifying critical roles and creating backup plans in case the employees within these roles decide to leave or retire.
Tip #1: Build talent pipelines and identify employees to groom for future leadership roles. Create development plans for each employee in the pipeline to help them acquire the skills and knowledge they need for the subsequent roles in their career trajectory.
Rebecca Murray, Vice President at Illumiti, shares some key steps for successful succession planning:
- Identifying critical positions and possible resource shortages.
- Creating succession scenarios.
- Communicating succession scenarios to employees and managers - engagement.
- Making development plans to bridge any known gaps.
Tip #2: Focus on identifying high-performing employees and developing them into leaders within their current teams. With this process in place, you can be confident that you'll have a steady supply of top talent ready when employees resign or retire.
➡️ To use this template for leaders, make sure that your core leadership competencies go into the "Focus Areas" (first column).
Succession planning helps ensure that your organization has enough qualified candidates who can fill positions when they become vacant. It also develops future leaders through training programs, coaching, mentoring, and other methods.
💡8 Best practices for effective talent management
While following the above system will help you create an effective strategy, follow these best practices to make the process stress-free.
1. Gauge roadblocks. It's common for HR teams to face issues with budget approval for talent management initiatives. Plan how you can deal with it. The executive leadership will invest in talent management only if they see how it aligns with business goals.
2. Don't implement talent management plans just for the sake of it. We won't know how effective they are if we don't have clear goals.
3. Make a great first impression and have a stellar onboarding. Emphasize work-life balance and the steps the organization takes for employee well-being.
4. Align employees with the company's mission, so they feel motivated to come to work and find their work meaningful.
5. Treat your employees well and keep them engaged. Engagement is not only good for employee job satisfaction but also for your business's outcomes. Consider creating an employee engagement action plan.
6. Identify top talent and reward them for retaining their talents. Speak to your A players about what characteristics made them excel and try to implement them across the organization.
7. Identify the traits of top employees and use them during the hiring process.
8. Reduce any leadership change disruption by having successors ready to take on key responsibilities.
➡️ Enable your talents with Zavvy
Talent management isn't just about recruiting and hiring the best talent. Your company culture and reputation ride on the talent team's ability to ensure that the most vital asset, your people, are appreciated and feel validated. You can lose them to a competitor if you don't keep them engaged.
Imagine creating an employee experience that's so smooth that new hires are excited and engaged from day one and productive as soon as possible.
This is our priority at Zavvy. The fastest way to instantly bring new employees up to speed is by automating the out-of-date, repetitive employee onboarding tasks that bog down HR professionals and managers.
Zavvy can also help HR professionals to run a fully-automated feedback process that streamlines 360 feedback. Organizations are also using our platform to transform managers into leaders using our library of actionable lessons and personalizing the learning experience.
Get in touch for a free 30 minutes demo. Our experts will show you how you can create a cycle of continuous development with Zavvy.
❓ Talent management frequently asked questions
What's the difference between talent management and talent acquisition?
Talent acquisition is the process of attracting, identifying, and hiring the right person for the job. In contrast, talent management is the system that covers multiple aspects of the employee lifecycle like onboarding, learning & development, succession planning, and even talent acquisition.
What is the role of talent management?
Effective talent management involves setting up a system for hiring, training, and developing employees. It includes having a suitable career path for every employee — whether they want to stay at the company or not — and providing training and development opportunities as they move along this path.