Resources How-to's What is talent management?


What is talent management?

As often happens, industries or professions develop their own set of terminology or "jargon" and the human resources field is no exception. Unfortunately, the existence of that jargon does not guarantee shared meaning.

If you do an internet search on the term "talent management", the results will show a variety of uses of the term - not all of them related to HR. And even in the human resources sphere, the term is often used to mean different things. So we thought we'd try to help clear up some of the confusion.

Here's the most common understanding of the HR practice of talent management

Talent management is the set of programs and practices that are used to: recruit, hire, and initiate employees; manage their performance, development, and career progression; compensate and reward them; and transition them out of the organization. You could say it's the process of managing employees from "hire to retire".

In practical terms, that typically includes HR processes like:

These processes can be broken down even further into HR and management tasks:

Talent management process

Typical HR and management tasks

Recruiting/talent acquisition


  • Welcoming new employees
  • Setting up employee records
  • Gathering employee data
  • Setting up employee benefits
  • Setting up employee payroll
  • Requesting employee workstations
  • Facilitating internal networking
  • Assigning initial goals
  • Assigning initial development activities
  • Completing 30/60/90 day reviews

Performance management

Learning management/employee development

  • Identifying and addressing individual and organizational learning needs
  • Assigning, managing employee development
  • Creating, administering, managing and evaluating learning activities and assets
  • Creating learning paths/curricula
  • Mapping learning paths/curricula to career paths
  • Mapping learning activities and assets to competencies
  • Mapping learning activities, assets and paths to certifications and licenses

Compensation management

Succession planning/management

  • Identifying potential replacements for internal roles (short and longer term)
  • Identifying key roles/areas where it's important to develop potential successors
  • Identifying knowledge/skills/experience required for success in key roles/areas
  • Identifying learning activities to develop knowledge/skills/experience required for success in key roles/areas
  • Identifying high performing, high potential employees and retention risks
  • Creating talent pools for each key role/area
  • Assigning high performing, high potential employees to specific talent pools
  • Assessing readiness of employees in each talent pool for promotion/progression
  • Assigning development plans to prepare employees in talent pools for promotion/progression
  • Promoting candidates from talent pools


  • Conducting exit interviews
  • Closing employee records
  • Concluding employee benefits
  • Concluding employee payroll

Why is talent management important?

More and more, research by leading firms like IDC, HCI and The Hackett Group is making the link between mature, integrated talent management processes and organizational success. To truly succeed, every organization needs solid talent management programs and processes that help them make the most of their only true sustainable competitive differentiator - their workforce.

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