• The Talent Management Cycle

    Strategic talent management is all about ensuring that your team and organization have the talent they need to get the job done and help the business win.

    Well-meaning, but lopsided investments in talent management (TM) can be extremely wasteful. A big investment in recruiting, for example, will be wasted if all the new people you are hiring are poorly orientated, deployed, developed, and retained. A big push in recruiting, if you are losing all your new hires, can also damage your brand, hindering your ability to compete for talent in the marketplace.

    If you have a hole in the bottom of your talent bucket—losing talent like crazy—you can’t just keep pouring new talent in the bucket. You need to plug the hole. No one aspect of talent management can solve all your talent management challenges.

    There are four core talent management (TM) practices, and companies need to manage all of them well to get the results they need.





    We need to fill positions with people who can get the job done. Moreover, our choice of who we bring into the organization has an enormous impact on our culture and our future—who we are becoming as an organization. Further, who we hire and promote sends a powerful message to employees about what is valued, rewarded, and expected. Are you promoting ass-kissers, lone rangers, team players, analysts, leaders? It makes a big difference.

    Selection does not stop with hiring. Orientation and on-boarding can have a substantial impact on how quickly a new employee or leader becomes fully productive, fits into your culture, and has a positive impact on communication and teamwork.


    In this category, I include both deployment and performance management. Deployment involves, first, putting the right people in the right roles, and second, performance management—which is an ongoing process.

    Here are two best practices to consider:

    Best practice 1: Common sense says we should assign projects to the best person for the job. But whenever possible, assign projects to the people who can learn the most from them. If you always give the same project to the same person, e.g., because she is most qualified for the job, (i) you may be holding her back from learning new things, and (ii) you are probably missing important opportunities to train other people to do that first project. Two pieces of advice here: first, when assigning projects to people who can learn the most from them, you still need to select on the basis of merit (someone who has earned that opportunity, and who is ready, willing, and able). Second, make sure you schedule sufficient time to offer the coaching support this person will need—both to get the job done and fully leverage the learning opportunity.

    Best practice 2: You can turn every discussion and meeting into an opportunity to assess talent. In every meeting, look for everyone’s unique gifts, and encourage people to bring their gifts to the table. This enhances individual contribution and team performance, and it also enables you to think about deployment: Is this person ready for more responsibility, a new kind of project, a different kind of role or duty; where can this person have the biggest impact and in what role or project can they learn the most—what are they ready to learn?


    Employee development includes a whole cluster of core TM practices: on-the-job training, coaching, mentoring, leadership development, and so on.

    Since people learn most from doing, training type programs work best when they support learning on the job. The term “experience” in the diagram (above) refers to the lessons of experience—learning from challenges on the job, debriefing, and the like.

    The purpose and benefits of development are many, e.g., improving performance, enhancing engagement and retention (reducing turnover), and making employees more skilled and thus more valuable to the organization.


    This map names three important aspects of retention:

    First, employees must be engaged in their work. Engagement is usually defined in terms of job satisfaction, morale, effort, and motivation, all of which are tied to productivity. We need our employees to care about doing a good job and be fully engaged in their work so that they can perform well, take initiative, and be creative in serving our customers and achieving organizational objectives.

    Second, culture has a huge impact on employee engagement and retention. Culture refers to several important things, including living the core values and creating (contributing to) a compelling culture for attracting and retaining talent.

    EVP refers to your employee value proposition, i.e., the value you propose to offer your employees. “Why would really talented people want to work really hard for us?” Design your organization, first, to make it a great place to work, second, to maximize organizational effectiveness, and third, to give employees the support they need to get the job done.


    Solid talent management practices enhance employee motivation, performance, development, and retention. TM impacts your brand and ability to compete for talent. And it also affects organizational speed, flexibility, and capacity for renewal.

    Manage talent strategically, i.e., in the context of your highest priority business objectives: What talent do we need to get the job done? What kind of talent will be most valuable to our long term success; for our unique vision, strategy, and values?

    Think of the talent management cycle holistically in order to enhance the sustainability of your talent pool and organization. Your various TM practices need to be tightly integrated or aligned with each other (reinforce and support each other) and aligned with your vision, strategy, and values.

    How important is talent to your team and organization—and to your success as a leader? What level of effort, quality, and rigor do you need in your talent management practices?

    Incrementa can help you take your talent management practices up to the next level for enhanced business performance. Performance by design!

    Copyright © 2016 Joel Shapiro, Ph.D., all rights reserved.

    Joel Shapiro a leadership educator and culture guru with Incrementa Consulting. Joel is passionate about developing leadership capacity, making employees part of the solution, and finding the perfect blend of humanity and business performance. You can read more of Joel’s thoughts on the Incrementa website, at his former blog, and on Twitter.

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