Talent Management

What is talent management?

Wide variations exist in how the term ‘talent’ is defined across differing sectors, and organizations may prefer to adopt their own interpretations rather than accepting universal or prescribed definitions. That said, it’s helpful to start with a broad definition and, from our research, we’ve developed a working definition for both ‘talent’ and ‘talent management’:

  • Talent consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organizational performance either through their immediate contribution or, in the longer-term, by demonstrating the highest levels of potential.
  • Talent management is the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of those individuals who are of particular value to an organization, either in view of their ‘high potential’ for the future or because they are fulfilling business/operation-critical roles.

These interpretations underline the importance of recognizing that it ‘s not sufficient simply to attract individuals with high potential. Developing, managing and retaining those individuals as part of a planned strategy for talent is equally important, as well as adopting systems to measure the return on this investment.

Many organizations are also now broadening their definitions, looking at the ‘talents’ of all their staff and working on ways to develop their strengths (see ‘inclusive versus exclusive approaches’ below). At its broadest, then, the term ‘talent’ may be used to encompass the entire workforce of an organization.