Employees are the most important part of an organization, offering passion, personality, hard work and unique assets from all angles. This is the mentality you should have when developing your team – and your talent management process.
Some employers act on the notion that workers can be replaced, viewing them not as humans but as machines that simply get the job done. Instead, you should recognize and build on superior talent within your organization, focusing on their personal strengths and interests, and how they fit into your business.
Such a strategy is known as a talent management process, which seeks to recruit, develop and retain top talent.
"Today's employees want to know that they have been selected for positions because they have the ability to succeed in those positions and that the organization is going to continue to develop them into top performers," said Michael Cauley, ICF-credentialed executive coach. "They are looking for companies with strong talent management systems that will recognize their individual efforts, reward their performance, and give them opportunities for growth and development."
Cauley described talent management like a relationship. People search for certain qualities in a lover before deciding to commit, and they stick with each other through good and bad days. So long as there's still effort and respect, and the dynamic does not become toxic, commitment should not be broken.
The same goes for an employer and employee. Your talent management process exists to support your employees without trying to change them. It's a crucial addition to every business. However, research by American Express found that only 23 percent of executives view talent management as a top priority. This disconnect might be the reason for high turnover rates and employee disengagement.
To get the best out of your employees and continue to attract new talent, you'll want to implement an efficient talent management process. Here's how.
Creating a talent management process
Kevin Zobel, talent management and organizational development capabilities lead at North Highland, a worldwide consulting company, said that the most important part of a talent management process is communication.
"The first step is to ensure that there are channels and pathways for expectation setting, training, two-way feedback, and coaching to enable a continuous cycle of talent management and performance," he said.
Transparency is key. Employees search for more than monetary rewards and a glamorous office. Sure, those incentives are attractive and beneficial, but workers want to know that they share the vision and values of their potential company. That's why it's crucial to identify your organization's mission from the get-go.
"The organization must have a solid idea of what they are about, what they want to accomplish and who they want to be as they journey there," said Cauley. "This may take the form of a mission statement, organization goal and/or a list of no-compromise values."
"Given how tight the labor market is today, it's critical that you're able to differentiate the experience your company or team will provide for a potential candidate and, eventually, employee," added Jonathan Beamer, CMO of Monster.com. "Part of how this is accomplished is by sharing company values and telling their story – things that must be proved out once someone is hired. It can't just be lip service."
Your vision and values as a company will influence every part of your talent management process, from recruitment and hiring to retention and employee development, said Cauley. For instance, an applicant might be a talented individual with tons of experience, but if their objectives don't match yours, they won't serve your organization the way you need. Or, if a current employee isn't progressing in a way that suits your mission, you'll better know how to approach the issue for both parties.
"By anchoring all talent management process design decisions on the vision and values, the organization can expect a harmonious workplace where all departments and employees are focused on the same goal," Cauley added.
Areas of focus
There are many issues to address in your talent management process. Zobel outlined the most important points to cover:
- Organizational and job design: Which skills, abilities and performance are needed to meet goals and objectives?
- Workforce planning: What is your strategy or plan for developing teams with the necessary skills and capabilities? Which skills are critical to hire, and which can be built through training and coaching?
- Talent acquisition: How will you source, screen and hire talent with the right skills, abilities and characteristics?
- Onboarding and orientation: What are your pre-arrival and arrival logistics? What will your new-hire orientation entail? How will you ensure effective expectation setting, team integration, and cultural alignment and assimilation?
- Learning and development: How will you customize training for each worker in line with company goals and objectives? How will you integrate this development into day-to-day performance, management, feedback and coaching?
- Performance management: How will you provide continuous opportunities for performance review, appraisal, feedback and planning? How will you ensure clarity of expectations and nurture a culture of coaching and performance?
- Leadership development: How will you review employee performance and potential? How will you develop and prepare individuals for possible leadership roles?
- Employee engagement: How will you continuously gauge employee engagement levels? How will you align their work with the company's vision, objectives, beliefs, roles and values?
"As a small business looking to make initial inroads around effective talent management, it is important to focus on the components and levers that are most impactful for your team or organization," said Zobel.
For instance, he advised first focusing on learning and development, performance management, leadership development, and employee engagement before assessing gaps. However, he added, if you're experiencing a period of rapid growth, you should focus more on foundation-setting components.