Talent” is a term you hear bandied about in a variety of contexts. It’s used constantly in reference to celebrities: in show business, performers are often referred to as “the talent”; sports analysts will talk about an outstanding athlete’s “raw talent.” Grade-school kids impress audiences full of parents at talent shows, while the existence of talent agencies and talent brokers imply that talent is a rarefied commodity, something to be bought and sold.
“Knowledge and skills can be learned, but talent is enduring”
Many people think that the more they can diversify their base of knowledge and skills, the more secure their future will become, but the opposite is more likely to be the case: The more time and effort spent in areas of non-talent, the less opportunity one has to utilize and refine one’s talents.
Webster’s definition of talent as “any natural ability or power”, also a person with special knowledge or ability who performs skilfully.
“A conscious, deliberate approach undertaken to attract, develop and retain people with the aptitude and abilities to meet current and future organisational needs.”
“Talent management involves individual and organisational development in response to a changing and complex operating environment. It includes the creation and maintenance of a supportive, people oriented organisation culture.”
Importance of talent management
Like human capital, talent management is gaining increased attention. Talent management (TM) brings together a number of important human resources (HR) and management initiatives.
Organisations that formally decide to “manage their talent” undertake a strategic analysis of their current HR processes. This is to ensure that a co-ordinated, performance oriented approach is adopted.
Quite often, organisations adopting a TM approach will focus on co-ordinating and integrating:
- Recruitment – ensuring the right people are attracted to the organisation.
- Retention – developing and implementing practices that reward and support employees.
- Employee development – ensuring continuous informal and formal learning and development.
- Leadership and “high potential employee” development – specific development programs for existing and future leaders.
- Performance management – specific processes that nurture and support performance, including feedback/measurement.
- Workforce planning – planning for business and general changes, including the older workforce and current/future skills shortages.
- Culture – development of a positive, progressive and high performance “way of operating”.
An important step is to identify the staff or employees (people and positions) that are critical to the organisation. They do not necessarily have to be senior staff members. Many organisations lost a lot of “organisational knowledge” in the downsizing exercises of a few years ago. The impact of the loss was not immediately apparent. However, it did not take long for many companies to realise their mistake when they did not have people with the knowledge and skills to either anticipate or solve problems that arose. The current discussions about skill shortages and the aging population are also helping organisations to focus on the talent management issue. It may not be possible to simply go out and recruit new people to meet operational needs. Many leading companies have decided to develop their own people, rather than trying to hire fully skilled workers.
In summary, every organisation should implement talent management principles and approaches.
Author of this article is Parul Nayak, Student of ISME, Navi Mumbai