Talent Wheel - A simple model for Talent Management Activities

There is a lot of hype about talent management these days, and it seems that many HR departments are getting excited about having larger budgets and more power inside the organizations. This raises some important questions - What is the life cycle of talent and how could it be managed? What is the role of the general manager in the talent management process? What should be the role of the employee in these programs?

Let’s start with what the talent management life cycle is. This question is of paramount importance, and from my point of view how the companies answer it clearly, differentiates the good from the great.

Imagine, you just hired "Steve Jobs" who is just 20 years old now. How would you go about recognizing his marketer abilities? How would you train him? How would you infuse your culture DNA and provide opportunities so that a gifted individual could grow to fulfill his maximum potential while helping to develop other leaders?

At the core of the model you will find activity assessment, which means that the set of activities should be in a continue evaluation of the actual cost and benefits. There is no unique recipe for success as there is no identical firm.

The following are the main identifiable stages that talented individuals move through in a firm:

Acquisition: Somehow the company hire an individual, either by direct hiring, or by acquiring a new business. At this point, future performance can only be established by past performance and subjective references from others. Interviews, assessments, surveys, and other hiring activities are typically part of this process, some have come with algorithmic predictors but some of these tools remain still in the blackboards.

On-boarding: The firm itself has its own goals, values, strategy, and organizational structure as part of the industry in which it operates. The process of on-boarding, in a narrow sense, is helping the new worker to have the basic level of competency so he/she can perform a specific job. In a broad sense however, it is the process of making that person adapt to the firm's culture, processes, practices, and in some cases even politics that facilitates the group acceptance of the new individual.

Incubation: Is the process of having programs and activities that help to further develop potential key performers. It is a talent funnel, similar to a sales pipeline that allows segregation and categorization of talent. The greater the exposure and the variety of experience, the greater chances of developing talent that can be adaptable and could stretch the boundaries of the firm. Typical incubation programs are targeted training, assignment of mentors, and special projects and assignments. Some firms use third party actions or even community efforts to cultivate or identify possible talent in their natural ecosystems.

Identification: Great firms are capable to identify people with potential since hired. In many cases however, the identification process comes down to a subjective list of people who represent at core the values of the firm and could take functional roles to make it successful. Well managed firms have a systematic, continuous and well defined process to identify talent. Typical activities involve leadership assessments, surveys, talent review sessions and other tools to actually identify talent.

Assessment: This is what most firms focus on; having and evaluating individuals against objectives. In many cases these objectives are cascaded down through the organization. In some organizations, there is also a great degree of quantitative evaluation against the behaviour as a form of measure culture fit. Firms also use the multi stakeholder feedback form and attempt to provide a 360 degree view of the individual. Although this is presented as a discrete activity, good managers perform it continuously as a critical- top-of-mind business activity.

Promotion: After identifying talent many companies promote incumbents to positions of greater responsibility. In many cases, promotion, job rotation, and special assignments greatly help candidates to acquire a better understanding of the organization and enhance the network of contacts not just in the firm but in the industry. Other firms bring the “up or out” concept in which there is a predefined time in which either the individual moves through the ranks or must leave the organization. Access to management teams, leadership groups, or identifiable executive potentials are common practices.

Retention: Represent the set of activities or programs that ensure that good performers remain in the firm. It is in the best interest of the firm to retain key talent and further develop it. Compensation alignment, and reward and other additional benefit programs are typically part of retention strategies. Strong culture re-enforcement or alignment will also be part of it.

Succession: At some point some leaders will leave the organization; well managed firms will have defined programs to allow a fast and easy transition of high potentials to the new roles. These programs are typically visible in high profile roles, since well managed firms will have plans for all the key roles. But is not just the act of transition that is important, is the rigour and discipline that a firm must have to create experiences that qualify these incumbents to embrace the opportunity once is presented to them.

Forecasting: A firm will not be able to execute a strategic mandate without the right people. Well managed firms tie their strategic position to their talent management programs. Well managed firms have a clear understanding of future needs, a clear identification of their current gaps and ongoing plans to close them in a continuous effort to strengthen the firm’s position. Some firms use analytics and dashboards to get a picture of future needs and therefore establish current gaps.

Strategy and talent management are bound to each other. A firm’s strategy respond the WHAT and WHY questions, while talent management address the key WHO question. Each organization has different needs and therefore each organization can use, adapt or use activities in a different manner providing a unique strategic position. As a general manager are you in control of this process? Are you actively involved? As an employee how can these plans benefit you?

© 2011 by Juan Manuel Moreno - all rights reserved.
This material cannot be copied or distributed without the author's written permission.