a step-by-step guide to creating a talent management strategy

a step-by-step guide to creating a talent management strategy
Retention isn’t just about keeping great people, it’s also about nurturing and developing the best talent to ensure you always have the right people for the job and are proactive in developing future leaders. Achieving this goal requires a longer term strategy that includes managing talent, career management and managerial development. Investing in these areas will ensure you have the best chance at keeping the best people.

why is talent management important?

Talent management – the art of having the right people in the right jobs at the right time – can apply from recruitment and selection onwards, but the term is generally taken to mean managing and developing people with the potential to make a difference to performance either short or long-term, up to and including future leaders. Without a talent management strategy you can lose great people to better opportunities.

step 1: activities 

Talent management activities are likely to be a mix of formal and informal activities. Here are some examples to try in your business:

  • On-the-job training with other staff members 
  • Coaching or in-house development such as internal knowledge-sharing 
  • Networking events
  • Leadership coaching
  • Mentoring 
  • Meetings with clients (this is more important where this is not a regular part of the individual’s role)

While some bigger ideas can be applied, talent management is primarily focused on the needs of the individual and the size and shape of your business. This means activities and strategies are likely to be different for every organisation.

Whatever activities work best for you, it is important to gain senior management support and have an organised procedure for selecting participants to take part in these activities raises its the value of your program and its effectiveness.

Raise the profile of these activities and try to implement them under a formal procedure to encourage staff to want to be a part of the program.

step 2: career management


The idea of career progression has altered. Many employees used to see it as a steady “climb the ladder” process, with increased salary and status at every new level. 

However, in smaller businesses with less hierarchical structures, fewer management layers, and flexibility in the workforce a modern career path can involve any number of moves sideways – or even backwards. Today’s concept of career management may be seen more as a series of stepping stones rather than a straight road stretching ahead.

To excel at career management you need to strike a balance between an individual's needs and your business requirements. Many career management models exist for you to follow, but to get you started here are five core components for career management from the UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD):

1. career planning and support activities – set out a plan for each individual with objectives and activities, and make sure you regularly review it.
2. career information and advice – offer counselling by trained individuals (internal or external), workshops or courses to help the best individuals excel and discover their path.
3. developmental assignments – offer internal or external secondments, work shadowing and project work for exceptional members of staff.
4. internal markets and job posting systems
5. initiatives aimed at specific populations – craft your own talent by getting in early and developing individual movements yourself with graduate development schemes, succession planning, and internal career moves managed by the organisation.

step 3: management development


Managerial positions can be extremely varied, from specialists to project, senior and line managers. But their basic function can be described as: “translating or putting an organisation’s aims into action”. All managers essentially have a people management role, and this skill can be developed and improved through management development.

Career goals and discussions for managers are often forgotten about. Managers are often too busy thinking about the career development plans for their employees and dealing with the day-to-day demands of managing a team. 

Research has shown that when managers commit themselves to career management they can make a greater impact on the company as a whole. Not only do they benefit from changes to their own career but they also benefit from career progressions among staff in their team. 

A great way to develop managerial skills is to take regular reviews and feedback from a wide range of people (known as 360-degree). This is a great way to assess the impact of managers’ behaviour on others, including those who report to them.

It also doesn’t have to be too formal. In recent years, employers have started to replace formal methods with more fluid techniques after noting formal reviews were ineffective, particularly considering the time it takes to conduct them and action them. Managers can instead opt for casual reflection sessions with their staff or informal discussions.

step 4: get creative and face the challenges

Career and talent management for SMEs can be even more challenging when, by definition, there are often insufficient different roles to provide development opportunities, and where employees are encouraged to work as one team rather than within different teams. 

In terms of managerial roles, small companies are not simply pocket versions of big companies. But no business is static, and there may be new responsibilities or projects researching new markets or products - in short, it’s time to get creative! 

SMEs that cannot provide new experiences may consider working with other SMEs to provide secondments, or even – if there are no other options – encourage valued staff to leave to gain necessary experience. The key to the latter approach is to stay in touch with the former employee, so when a suitable role does become vacant they can be invited to apply for it.

Get creative with your career management strategy to keep the best talent!
Posted: Tuesday, 4 April 2017 - 6:37 AM