Talent management is boring.
Okay, the words are boring.
After all, what does one do when tasked with managing talent? The first thing that comes to mind for many is making sure a performer has everything they asked for in their contract. In a way, this is pretty accurate, even in the context of HR practices.
The term "talent management" covers a group of interlocking programs that includes performance management, learning and development, recruiting, onboarding, leadership development, succession planning and more.
The goal of all these programs? To attract, engage and retain the right people at the right time in organizations.
When it's all laid out like that using big, boring words, talent management sounds about as appealing as a root canal. But in this case, the impression the words give conceals exciting potential for great impact.
Because talent management is really about helping people be their best and that's not boring at all. But how, exactly, does HR accomplish this? And what do those words they use really mean?
The hidden ingredients in HR's jargon soup
Niche experts (like HR pros) sometimes struggle to put their knowledge into plain language that's easy for the layperson to decode. We all get so immersed in the subject matter of our work that we forget other people aren't as familiar with what we do.
And, when it comes to the work of HR, that's a real shame. The work HR does is important and inspiring. Simply put, human resources professionals have chosen a career that's all about helping people. But the terms for their work have become corporatized and jargony because that's what tends to happen when you have to prove your worth to the business. With the changing expectations of people in today's workforce, HR's job is more important than ever.
Here are a few examples of how all those boring "management" words are adding spice to everyday work life:
Is there anything worse at work than not knowing what's expected of you? Waking up, getting ready to go to work and knowing the whole time you aren't sure you know what to do is stressful. That's why HR works with managers across the organization every year to build cascading goals in each department so individuals can see how their everyday work is contributing to corporate objectives.
When you get to have a say in the goals you're working to complete, rather than having goals assigned by a manager, you're more invested in achieving the goals. Goal management is the full picture - setting goals that align with the organization's goals, then monitoring progress and changing direction when required.
The spice? Marking a goal complete after working hard for months to make progress is a great feeling you want to repeat.
In today's workplace, employees want and expect to have opportunities to learn. There's a limitless supply of information available for employees to improve their skills and gain knowledge on topics related to their work. HR advocates and builds policies for employees to get access to these opportunities. They also help managers and employees apply what they've learned on the job.
Learning something new can be a high moment, similar to achieving a goal. Learning management builds on goal management by providing tools and knowledge people can use to achieve their goals.
The spice? Learning exposes you to new ideas and information that can help you apply innovative thinking and approaches to work.
It's hard to talk about talent management, learning and goals without mentioning performance. Ongoing performance management programs are built on the idea that continuous feedback can help employees know how they're doing with meeting expectations at any given time.
By having regular 1:1 meetings and getting 360-degree feedback, people get a clear idea of how they're doing so they can continue doing what's working and make changes when something isn't.
The spice? We don't have to wait for an annual review to know how we're doing. Each individual can take ownership of performance by initiating discussions about performance, learning and development, and goals.
An unwritten contract: Helping people be their best
Organizations don't typically put learning and development, succession planning, leadership development or performance management clauses in contracts with new hires. But that doesn't mean people don't expect more than a paycheck in exchange for the work they do and that's why the work HR does is so important.
When organizations make it a priority to invest in people, then their people will be more invested in the organization and its success. And that's never going to be boring.