Talent management has been a key organisational priority since it first entered the human resource management rhetoric in the late 1990s. Its importance as it relates to attracting, retaining and developing a high-performing workforce can’t be discounted. However, the nature of talent management has changed dramatically since its inception.
So what are the current priorities and practices within talent management?
We recently partnered with Cranfield School of Management and HRZone.com on a survey of 546 HR and talent management professionals across the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Our survey findings reveal that many organisations lack a cohesive talent management strategy.
I asked Dr. Emma Parry, Reader in Human Resource Management at Cranfield School of Management, to answer a few questions about the survey findings and what they reveal about the state of talent management in today’s organisations.
Q: What is the propensity for organisations having a defined talent strategy versus independent talent programmes/ initiatives, and what is the potential impact?
Despite the attention paid to talent management by HR consultants and the HR media, only 46% of responding organisations said that they had a talent management strategy and only 29% said that they had a talent management strategy that was working well.
What is encouraging however is that the relatively high proportion of companies planning to introduce a talent management strategy is in line with our findings in relation to expenditure on talent management over the next three years.
Evidence also suggests that many organisations are beginning to realize the benefits of a holistic talent management strategy, and that taking an integrated approach is needed.
In order to better identify, plan and manage their talent, organisations need to ensure their strategy truly aligns and supports the objectives of the business.
Q: How are organisations looking to evolve their priorities and focus in the coming years?
The results are quite promising in this area. Organisations are increasing their spending on training and development, performance management and succession planning, but reducing the amount they spend on recruitment. This suggests a move from buying in talent to growing their own.
There is an obvious focus here on retention of key talent. Interestingly and more worryingly however, is that fewer than one in five organisations are prepared for the departure of senior leaders.
Talent development efforts can mitigate that risk by helping to develop the capabilities and readiness of potential successors to move into key professional and leadership positions.
Q: How well is technology currently supporting talent strategies, and what is the potential opportunity here?
For many there is a legacy of a piecemeal approach in the way HR technology is supporting the function. The result is that technology is currently focused on supporting more administrative and completely siloed process elements.
As a result, many organisations aren’t making the most effective use of their HR technology investments to support their talent programmes.
Interestingly however, our findings reveal that performance
management is the highest priority for investment in HR systems. This is a wise
focus, since getting performance management right is the lynchpin for a better
The benefits of having a strong performance management process and system in place is that it:
- Creates and alignment between employees and the objectives of the business,
- Supports the critical area of line management,
- Ensures an openness and fairness in the way employees are evaluated, and
- Enables reward and recognition based on performance.
Crucially, the lessons and data gathered from the performance process inform wider talent strategies including targeting learning, reward, succession planning, recruitment and longer term workforce planning.
Really then, when we look at the priorities organisations are making in terms of their talent programmes, it’s quite promising to see performance management at the forefront.
Learn more about the Strategic Talent Management Survey findings
Thank you to Dr. Emma Parry for providing her insights into the current talent management priorities and practices in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. To learn more about these findings, download the Strategic Talent Management Survey Results report.