managing the people who make a difference

Talent management requires its own strategy if it is to fulfill its potential for developing and retaining key staff.

Talent management – the art of having the right people in the right jobs at the right time – can apply from recruitment and selection onwards. But it’s generally taken to mean managing and developing people with the potential to make a difference to performance in either the short or long term, up to and including future leaders.

Talent management activities are likely to be a mix of formal and informal activities. On-the-job training, coaching and inhouse development, such as internal knowledge-sharing, are most commonly used.

Other formal or informal activities can include networking events, leadership coaching, mentoring and meetings with clients, particularly where this is not a regular part of the individual’s role. Coaching and mentoring using a more structured and sophisticated approach for development programs can also have an important role. 

Talent management requires its own separate strategy to run alongside resourcing and retention strategies, and it is likely to mean something different in every organisation. Whatever methods are used, gaining senior management support and having a formal procedure for selecting participants raises its perceived value among staff.

Talent management doesn’t apply only to future leaders. It should be an integral part of closing skills gaps throughout organisations, and many organisations now look at the talents of all their employees to develop their strengths and contributions.

According to Randstad’s World of Work Report, 44% of Australian employers have a talent management program to identify high-potential employees – the traditional focus of such programs. However, focusing on ‘the few’ can be damaging to overall employee development needs and engagement, so development reviews should be inclusive, accessible and aimed at developing capability as a whole.

Employee development can also involve drawing up personal development plans to improve performance, setting out actions to meet development needs, or secondments to other companies (e.g. suppliers) to gain experience for small businesses.

Stepping stones

Career management is closely aligned with talent management. The traditional concept of a career as a steady upward progression through a sequence of roles, with accompanying increases in salary and status, has changed. The breakdown of hierarchical structures, fewer management layers and flexibility in the workforce mean that a modern career may be a series of moves sideways – or even backwards – crossing occupational and organisational boundaries. Today’s concept of career management may be seen more as a series of stepping stones rather than a straight road stretching ahead.

Career management for SMEs can be challenging because there are usually insufficient different roles to provide development opportunities. In terms of managerial roles, small firms aren’t simply pocket versions of big companies. But no business is static and there may be new responsibilities or projects researching new markets or products.

SMEs that can’t provide new experiences may consider working with other SMEs to provide secondments. If there are no other options, SMEs may encourage valued staff to leave to gain necessary experience. The key here is to stay in touch with the former employee so when a suitable role becomes vacant, they can be invited to apply for it.


For more advice on managing talent, visit Randstad’s knowledge centre Workforce360 or contact a Randstad recruitment consultant, an industry expert who can help streamline the process and support the growth of your business. 

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