Definition: Talent Management refers to the process of developing and integrating new workers, developing and retaining current workers, and attracting highly skilled workers to work for a company.
Talent…Management. The two words say so much. One, that everyone who works with you/for you is “talent.” Next, somehow, the talent has to be managed.
But, as we all know, there is no magic formula. There are only guidelines – hints. And many of these are quite good, like:
• only hire people who can to the job at hand very well
• only hire people who can get along well with others
• make sure that each person is doing what he/she is best at
• give people the training and support they need to get better at their job
• recognize and reward excellent work
• praise in public; criticize in private
• if you’ve got the wrong person in place, make a change in the next 3 seconds – every second, every day, you delay, you drag down the morale of everyone. (This is a remarkably consistent theme in many books we’ve presented over our 12+ years).
In other words: hire well; train well; encourage well; recognize/reward well… and keep in touch with the current thinking of your “talent.” Know what their strengths are now, their weaknesses, and their concerns.
These are all wise suggestions/reminders, and we have presented a number of books at the First Friday Book Synopsis over the years to help you better “manage talent.” My favorite is still the classic Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, which I presented more than a decade ago (hard to believe!), and recently Karl presented his synopsis of Make Their Day!: Employee Recognition That Works by Cindy Ventrice – a very fine, practical book.
But here is my latest thinking about talent management. We have to add an element right now that is crucial. People who manage talent have to read the current state/mood/thinking of the talent they manage.
Here is why. This is an era of great uncertainty and anxiety. We all read the news. Companies are reluctant to hire (even companies with plenty of cash available); and joblessness continues to be a pervasive problem. And though the unemployment rate for college graduates is still low (4.5%, much lower than the overall unemployment rate), a growing number of college graduates are “settling” for jobs that are not what they had hoped for/signed up for with their college and/or graduate school education. It really is an age of uncertainty and anxiety.
And an anxious employee is uncertain, tentative – not at his/her best. Uncertainty breeds loss of confidence, thus loss of competence.
Successful Talent Management is going to increasingly require leaders — all those who supervise others — to help people survive and successfully navigate such uncertain waters. People need to feel secure, and then confident in their abilites (and their company).
Talent Management, more than ever before, is going to have to add “confidence building” to its list of practices.