Talent Management: Essential Strategic Element within Learning & Development

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Talent management(TM) is the identification and management of the individuals who had the capacity to perform better than other individuals and can make a difference for the overall organization performance. Implementation of TM strategies had been a skillful, organized, and a careful task. Essential conceptual & theoretical understanding of TM and critical issues causing hindrance must be rigorously dealt to foster potent outcomes for comprehensive organization performance. Thus it had to be crucial to examine salient concepts, theories, and issues of TM for practitioners to consider when implementing any vital TM strategy.


TM had been a very broader term and there have been various dimensions associated with it. The policies or process of TM covers various aspects such as succession planning, systematic utilization of IHRM activities, performance management systems, critical alignment of compensations, and maintaining an adequate blend of youth, adolescence & experienced workers for balanced organization performance.



As a relevant glimpse could be seen in the definition of CIPD 2017 that elucidates TM as, “Talent management is the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement/retention and deployment of those individuals with high potential who are of particular value to an organization” or can be extensively supported by Israelite, Larry (2010) book on TM, which discussed the “LAMP Development Program” of Mcdonald, that highlighted key elements of talent plan that contributes to organizational performance such as leadership development strategies, talent retention strategies, diversity analysis and identification of backups & feeder pools. In order to identify the talent and potential of employees, there had been various tools used such as a nine-box grid (NBG), talent bench review, wheel tool, or “raw cognitive power” predictive curve. NBG had been an iconic tool and most used by many organizations that provide a framework of succession& development planning, suggests progressive and adaptive strategies for the workforce. Although NBG had been used by most TM practitioners it does requires supporting structures. As supported by Hirsh W (2015) who identified that,” NGBs performance ratings can be very unreliable”.


Theoretically, as (Michaels et al., 2001) mentioned that contemporary interest in the field of TM had been grounded in the idea that talent is scarce and that organizations are competing in a war for talent. Consequentially there had been various issues that still lack extensive research.


Despite such foundations and literature still there had been various complications and issues regarding the practice& implications of TM strategies and policies about how an organization regulates, manages, and sustain talent pool membership. One major issue that practitioners should consider had to be the awareness of the employer’s reaction to talent pool membership. As mentioned by Swailes& Blackburn (2016), “Organizations should consider how employees will react to the design and implementation of talent pools and try to alleviate any adverse reactions”. Ever-since the remarkable research study by Bjorkman et al. (2013) which stated, “Informing talented people that they are included in TM programs has a motivational effect”.


The focus of TM practitioners had been hugely shifted in maximizing the advantage of the Pygmalion effect i.e. a form of self-fulfilling prophecy resulting in unconsciously taking actions towards the expectations designed by the employers. Thereafter the focus had been indispensably in pulling out the best among the talent pool and to inevitably promote, manage, and sustain the labeled employee, rather than an apt& inclusive talent strategy for all employees. Thus issues regarding the employee outside the talent pool had been the slightest of concerns.


Consequentially, affect among excluded employee had been severe as supported by Swailes&Blackburn (2016) indicating,” Employees outside talent pools reported feelings of lower support from the organization, stronger feelings of unfairness and had lower expectations of the organization’s interest in them”. Furthermore, the talent pool faces issues such as the Mathew effect (i.e. skillful becoming more skillful and vise-versa) leading towards the rise in the gap of ineffective TM practices and talent pool membership. Thus practitioners should carefully consider inclusive talent strategies and development programs. Another aspect to consider should be the individual characteristics of employees for TM practices. As stated by (LeBreton et al., 2018), “Narcissism has been linked to outcomes such as performance and retention; making it a key organizational outcome to study”. Furthermore, the study by Brookes (2015) found that narcissism significantly contributes to self-esteem and self-efficacy. In correlation to that generally, the aim of the talent pool had been to increase its talent pool members' self-belief by providing them a safe environment to take risks, resulting in developing confidence.


As studies show that narcissistic individuals value their own evaluations of themselves, which they then use to build their self-esteem and self-efficacy (Di Pierro et al., 2016). In support of that, the mask model by (Zeigler-Hill and Jordan, 2010) suggests that narcissistic individuals naturally may not benefit as much from talent pool membership as by arguing that narcissistic individuals value internalized self-evaluations over externalized ones. And with evidence from previous researches and a current working paper by (Kanabar & Fletcher) suggests that those high in narcissism have pre-existing elevated levels of OBSE (i.e. extent to which employees believe that they are competent to satisfy organizational needs) and GSE (i.e. individual’s belief in their ability to perform or achieve specific performance outcomes) and thus labeling them as talented may increase their self-belief to a lesser extent compared to those lower in the trait. Evidently this draws insights for practitioners into how individual characteristics such as narcissism might significantly help in determining how an employee needs to be excluded/included or managed in a talent pool membership


Conclusion


Hence TM had been an essential strategic element within learning& development. The practitioners had to carefully consider various approaches (such as NGB) and align those learning & development intervention along with organizational goals. The key tensions such as perceived organizational support, succession planning, workforce differentiation, and recruitment need to be reliably addressed. The practitioners should also be cautiously aware of key issues such as employer’s reaction to talent pool membership and an individual’s characteristics such as narcissism to successfully execute TM strategies for the overall development of organizational and employee performances.




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