Talent Management

I woke up this morning and realized “talent management” was one of those terms I took for granted, a phrase I thought I understood. So, after arriving at the office and completing my green tea ritual, I typed “talent management” into the search bar. As expected, Bing offered up Wikipedia as my first choice and I allowed them the first stab at it.

“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 your company.”

Not bad, I can agree with that. I dug a little deeper and found a web article from November 20, 2007 in HRWorld titled, “Talent Management FAQ”.

“Talent management is a process that emerged in the 1990s and continues to be adopted, as more companies come to realize that their employees’ talents and skills drive their business success.”

Amy went on…

“These companies develop plans and processes to track and manage their employee talent, including the following:

• Attracting and recruiting qualified candidates with competitive backgrounds
• Managing and defining competitive salaries
• Training and development opportunities
• Performance management processes
• Retention programs
• Promotion and transitioning”

OK, this makes sense. First, we’re talking about recognition that people drive success, a fact I find hard to dispute. Then, we’re talking about process to measure and manage getting and keeping good people. This resonated with me, seemed simple, and seemed right.

However, when I went back to my Bing search results for “Talent Management” I continued down the list and began to see links that didn’t make sense (and no, I’m not talking about the talent agency websites that also came up). The first thing I noticed was the untold number of providers of talent management software. I pity the poor HR Generalist who is asked to lead the search for potential talent management vendors. What makes the job even tougher is that they are all “industry leaders”! Every single one! The other interesting thing I noticed is that in the world of HR everything always comes back to salary and benefits administration. Even when we talk about getting and keeping talented people the discussion has to include salary and benefits. Don’t get me wrong, as a business owner I understand how important those to things are to people. They are important to me to. However, morning research on “talent management” only reinforced a stereotype many strategic HR professionals are trying desperately to shake. Real talent management can no longer sit in the back seat behind salary and benefits.