How to Design a Talent Management Roadmap

by Anita Bowness | Posted | Leadership

How to Design a Talent Management Roadmap

The slide below is the bedrock of our vision at Saba. It's from the session I delivered at Saba's annual customer conference, Saba Insight, on building a talent management roadmap. Our strategy is to deliver a fully connected development environment where people and teams are continuously empowered and motivated to be their best.


But to do that, you need a plan to bring this hyper-connected vision together and make it meaningful to your business and to your people.


How is this helpful to my organization?

I think it's natural to ask the question: how do a talent management strategy and a roadmap for achieving it benefit my company?

Just like a coach knows an athlete's skills and when to engage them, pull them out of the game or encourage further development, an organization's talent management strategy is all about knowing who you have on your team, their skills, and when and where you need them the most. For organizations, the leadership and HR act as the coach.

The leaders and HR make decisions based on the talent management strategy, which is their playbook for their organization.

In our view, talent management is an interlock of programs, all with the same goals - to attract, engage and retain top-performing people with the right skills and fit to meet organizational needs today and in the future.

These programs include recruiting, onboarding, learning and development, performance management, leadership development, succession planning and more. Programs like these are the key to meeting the changing expectations of people in today's workforce.

The "how-to"

Our model is simple. We use the steps below to guide discussions with our customers and get them thinking about their strategies and initiatives to execute on them.

With Step 1, we kick things off by looking at organizational goals and priorities.


Now, we dive into key drivers and possible challenges in Step 2.


In Step 3, we conduct a gap analysis.


Step 4 finds us looking ahead to the next year through the lens of talent management priorities and goals.


Now, link up those talent management goals with the organization's strategic goals.


Consider how your talent objectives can address some acute pain points or gaps and how they link to the corporate strategy. What are the key business challenges that you expect to solve? How will you measure them?

In this example, the organization is thinking about retention. They've said it's a problem that needs to be solved. Here's one way to do it:

List how this project will contribute to achieving key organizational goals.

  • What are the top 3-5 business objectives you will address?
  • What are the top 3-5 talent gaps you will close or objectives you will achieve to support the business objectives?

For example, let's say your company has three of these business objectives for the year:

  • Improve sales performance and increase market share
  • Reduce product development cycles
  • Improve employee retention among high performers/high potentials

How do your talent objectives aim to close the gaps on the people side that will help you get there?

Maybe your talent management investment aims to address the first by improving onboarding programs and training for the field team.

Perhaps to help reduce product development cycles, you need to improve the way you align, track and measure individual performance against the efficiency objectives the product development team needs to achieve.

And if your organization has identified a risk or a business challenge in retaining high performers, then perhaps your investment in a technology solution will allow you to support this by creating emerging leader programs and learning paths.

The result of this step? You are now linking your talent development initiatives to the strategic priorities or challenges of your business, and building a business case that your CEO (and other executives) will be able to get behind. This helps with getting your executive buy-in and support for your initiatives and potential investment in something new.

Now, on to Step 5.


Continue for each talent domain/process. You will begin to see areas where you have strong programs already in place, areas you need to add and areas where feedback and experience tell you that things need to improve.


You may even find this activity results in areas where you identify you have a lot to improve...or a lot to add!

Don't panic. You're not alone.

Lastly, plan for Step 6.


Identify upfront the metrics and measures you want to track to demonstrate the impact or outcomes you hope to realize.

Parting thoughts

The roadmap I've defined is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. And I don't have a magic tool that is going to do it all for you with a simple wizard (although that would be very fun!).

We all need to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither is the Holy Grail of a best-in-class talent management strategy.

Regardless of where you are, your goal in defining your roadmap for where you want to go is largely dependent on...

  1. Understanding your talent development or talent management objectives and articulating how they connect to your business and how to best advocate for your project within your key stakeholders
  2. Your ability to build a business case for your initiative so you can achieve both short-term and long-term objectives for your initiatives and your team
  3. To make sure you're proposing, implementing and deploying the right solutions and services at the right time

Finally, remember it's about the journey - not the destination! Establishing and implementing a talent management strategy isn't an easy task, but doing it will deliver benefits to both HR and your organization overall!

Talent Strategy Playbook

Build a comprehensive and effective talent management strategy with this playbook


Download Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Talent Strategy Playbook

Build a comprehensive and effective talent management strategy with this playbook


Download Now


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