Teresa Boughey: How key is a talent management strategy in business today?

In today’s business world, it is essential that the talent, skills and personality of each individual employee is perfectly understood by the senior managers and business owners. Without a clear idea of what each employee brings to your workplace, you cannot future proof your organisation.

Talent planning isn’t something that should be guessed – guesswork could leave your business trailing behind both competitors and the latest technological advancements. It needs to be strategically thought through so that no individual is left behind or neglected, and proactive so everyone can be developed, and you are open to the latest innovations.

For example, when you find yourself looking to fill a vacancy due to an employee moving roles and/or leaving, then this is a great opportunity to really ask yourself some questions… ‘where are the gaps?’  ‘what and how can we fill these’ ‘how can we harness the talent that we currently have within our organisation’. A refined talent management strategy will help you to answer these questions, filling any gaps that present themselves, either with a new employee or upskilling someone from your current workforce, or both!

What is talent mapping?

The first stage of a successful talent mapping strategy is to fully take stock of where you are now. Talent mapping will not only help you to pinpoint what talent you already have in your workplace, but it helps you to really define exactly what skills you need to be able to successfully fulfil all of your business objectives and stay ahead in a changing economy. To form the basis of your talent map, outline every individual’s current skills, capabilities and strengths. Where do your staff add the most value now and where can you see room for development and potential for the future? A talent map will enable you to acknowledge this and begin to plan your future trajectory.

Some companies may hire an external party to help them with setting up a talent map, this may provide an opportunity for you to benefit from an unbiased approach into setting this up. External companies may be able to provide you with invaluable guidance to help you navigate through the entire process, teach you how to spot talent and create profiles for individuals. However, it will still require a tremendous amount of input from you in order to populate the various elements which are to be reviewed.

Talent mapping profiles an provide a framework for how the individuals can be developed and trained in a professional and structured way; thus, helping businesses to identify and ensure future success. If line managers are taught how to build strong, trustful relationships with their employees creating these profiles will be much easier as you will already know their professional and personal ambitions. The important point is to make sure you continue to update this map as people progress and move up or on.

When short term issues arise, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. A talent map will help you to refocus on your overall business aims. You will then easily be able to see how each individual and small goal fits into your bigger vision. When this is communicated amongst the team, everyone is automatically more motivated.

The importance of ongoing learning

With the world around us continuously changing and evolving, we, as people, need to attempt to change and grow with it to ensure we remain at the forefront. Therefore, an individual’s talents should not remain still, they too need to be developed. This doesn’t mean that organisations must always put employees on training courses, there are many other different methods of ongoing learning that provide both information and skills. Employers could encourage job swapping, mentoring, shadowing and brainstorming sessions that enable people to share their knowledge, give ideas and learn from others. All these methods allow employees to continue their learning – a very attractive proposition for any prospective employees too. An important element when running any business is to ensure that staff remain motivated and dedicated to delivering the best results they can – this can be done with praise or incentives. Whichever method you choose to take, showing employees that you are dedicated to their personal development for their benefit, as well as the businesses, encourages a positive atmosphere.

Make sure you are always thinking about inclusivity when you implement processes and policies. Ensure opportunities are offered fairly and consistently, across all levels. It’s not uncommon for the same people to always put themselves forward for extra learning opportunities so make sure that everyone knows about the opportunities available to them, and that they have a champion who is able to support them and build their confidence to put themselves forward.

Similarly, talent management is a great way to retain talented employees. If an employee can see a clear career progression with adequate training and learning opportunities, they are much more likely to stay at your organisation rather than move on to one of your competitors. Employees should feel comfortable sharing their career aspirations with their employers to see if this can be accommodated.

Learning is a partnership

Whilst it is important businesses have a talent management strategy in place, it is important employees are also encouraged to take ownership of their development – it is then that the strategy will be the most effective. Managers should always be on hand to provide support and identify opportunities and employees should always follow through with any training they undertake, it benefits both themselves and the business. You can truly embed ongoing learning if you celebrate the successes of others when they achieve a new qualification or learn a new skill and encourage them to transfer the learning by sharing it with others. This encourages others to follow suit.

If organisations set talent management as a principle, they are likely to see a change and a shift in culture. Talent management will help you to identify the skills you need in the workplace and who has the potential to be developed but you need to ensure ongoing learning is a principle you are widely known for. By adopting this approach, you will create a positive working environment and an attractive one for future clients and employees.