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Talent ManagementHow leaders get to grips with talent management


There’s a constant push for organisations to recognise the consequences of losing the “war for talent”. However, many organisations still have no formal talent management process in place and those that do have struggled to make it work in a turbulent economy.

Complicated and process heavy talent management practices often fail to really support leaders to fully engage their talented people. A disconnect with the business strategy, mixed messages, lack of transparency, time to action and perceived lack of return on investment all discourage leaders from actively participating in talent management initiatives.

But…here’s the thing. The biggest causes of leadership derailment are failure to achieve objectives and inability to build good teams around you. Leadership is about achieving things through others. High performers and talented individuals achieve more.  

It’s sound business sense to make sure, you as a leader, surround yourself with talented high performers who are engaged and inspired to deliver on the business strategy.

So, how can leaders best engage in talent management, regardless of the processes an organisation has in place?

Make sure there is a clear link between your business strategy and your “people plan”

Think of it as gap analysis. In the same way, when you’re putting your business strategy together you’ll ask - where are we now? Where do we want to be? What’s the gap and what do we need to do to get there? Your “people plan” should ask the same kinds of questions in relation to the talents you need to develop, or bring in, to deliver on your business strategy.

Create a climate for talent to thrive

Encourage contribution; challenge and support people to stretch outside their comfort zones; recognise a job well done; mentor and coach others and encourage learning from mistakes.

Understand what talent looks like in your organisation

Share this thinking with other leaders. Add it to the agenda of your leadership meetings. Start to build a collective and cohesive view, as a leadership team, of what talent looks like in your organisation. Where are the strengths? Where are the gaps? What is the consequence of those gaps for your business now and in the future?

Make “talking talent” part of business as usual

Use weekly and quarterly meetings as an opportunity to “talk talent” with your management teams. Celebrate successes; recognise contributions; understand resourcing and development needs ahead of time so you’ve got the right people with the right skills in the right place. Get to know your high performers and top talent.

Be a role model

So many times I hear middle managers say that whilst the organisation has a performance management process in place, their own leaders don’t have regular reviews with them or proactively support them in their career development.  This causes them to question the organisations commitment to performance and talent management, which in turn impacts their own commitment to it. Be a role model - make sure you’re having regular 1 to 1’s with your own direct reports; that you understand their career aspirations and help them stretch and develop their capabilities.


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