I don't know about you, but I struggle with the term "talent management." Not because I don't understand the ideal, but because I am concerned that the HR profession has got hold of the wrong end of the stick.
It seems that the profession is anxious to improve its standing and is climbing aboard the talent management bandwagon to do so. It sees talent management as the answer to employee engagement and the panacea to redress past wrongs. I even heard one high profile HR manager proudly boast that "they don't talk about people; they talk about talent." That's all well and good, but it completely overlooks the fact that talent is embodied in people. You don't hire talent. You hire a person who brings the talent with them. Forget that at your peril.
Unfortunately many do seem to forget it! How many organisations have you come across where considerable effort is being expend on the development of "high-pots" - people with high-potential who, by virtue of their classification as "talent," are placed on a fast-track career path? Once again the law of unintended consequences comes into play and causes a double whammy.
First is the negative impact on other employees. If this is ever recognised it is completely disregarded and the organisation blindly creates a two tier employee structure with a kind of "talent apartheid." With the best will in the world this is inevitable because you effectively create the perception of a divide between people who have talent and those who do not.
And, even if you insist that the "high-pots" are not allowed to know that they are designated as such, the fact you treat them differently will make it obvious. Furthermore, it also runs the danger of raising expectations. Thus any failure on your part to live up to these will create a bone of contention that may be difficult to rectify. Either way, you are creating a rod for your own back, and possibly sabotaging all your employee engagement initiatives.
So for me true talent management entails hiring the right people and enabling each and every one of them to maximise their individual talent. That's why I prefer the concept of talent development to talent management. It brings a whole new cachet to the learning and development function, and makes it an organisation-wide blanket rather than an opportunity for the privileged few.
That is why I enjoyed this blog by Steve Roesler so much. I just love the Henry Ford quote that "My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me." If you take that to heart then you as a manager should be your employees' best friend! And I am even more encouraged that my model of employee ownership will help you build a framework where you can make it happen.
In fact it has been a doubly good week for me from that perspective, because I was very grateful to have been given an introduction to Bruno Chaintron at www.g4one.com. Bruno specialises in helping organisations redefine roles so that they fit the talents of their people rather than trying to shape people into a fit with their job description. Now there is someone who understands that the more successful people you have the more successful your organisational will be!
So what are you going to do develop your talent to its optimum?