What is Talent Management?

Business people jumping in the airA big welcome to Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions who is our guest blogger for the next six posts.

In this series of blogs, Steve will give us an over-view of Talent Management, taking in competencies and ratings; competency assessments; terms and box reporting; performance appraisals and PDPs; and succession planning. In this first blog post, Steve provides a top level overview of talent management.


What is Talent Management?

The reality is that Talent Management has been around ever since people hired people. As companies got larger and larger it became more and more difficult to sort out the good from the bad, the workaholic from the lazy, etc. Human Resource Management groups were born, and as software evolved then groups like PeopleSoft came to the fore to sell solutions to these groups. I worked for PeopleSoft for 8.5 years and even though nobody ever used the term Talent Management, there were still a group of applications that did the functions that Talent Management systems of today try to do.

The second real truth. Not one vendor of software has a fully functional Talent Management solution. Not one. Many vendors claim to have Talent Management solutions, and some cover a number of the vertical pillars of Talent Management but nobody does it all. It is actually very difficult to provide all of the vertical components; even Oracle is not able to do this yet…so if you get into a debate with a client always bear this in mind. So back to what it is… I will shortly share a diagram that I liked about it, but basically, Talent Management covers recruitment, workforce planning, performance management, succession planning, learning, and goes all the way through to compensation management. It is a full circle approach to the management of the people within your business, where performance affects compensation, compensation affects performance, learning affects performance, performance and potential affects succession planning, etc etc. I’ll cover much more detail on each part and what to think about when selling and talking about it at a future stage…but back to the high levels…

Who do we sell Talent Management to?
We then come to the conundrum of selling Talent Management….most companies that you sell into do not have an integrated Talent Management strategy. I found over the years and am still finding it today that a business’s internal structure will tell you a lot about what you can sell them. Most companies still have someone responsible for L&D, and you will often find three things about this person:

  • They don’t talk very often to the HR Director.
  • They know nothing about performance and Talent, and if they do, they have very little influence over any decisions related to this.
  • Their budget and their empire is very much focused on Learning.

Talking to HR Directors you find that most of them have very little real interest in Learning. HR Directors are focused on three things:

  • How do I support the CEO’s aim to maximise shareholder value – otherwise known as operating profit?
  • How do I make my business an *attractive place for people to want to work? E.g. How do I attract the best Talent?
  • How do I minimise the churn rates in my business?

They are often looking two or three years in the future, but at the same time you often find in talking to them that fire-fighting takes much more of their day to day activity than they would like. IT systems are often seen more of a challenge, and with Learning only being one component of a full solution, in actuality they are more likely to take the view that a single corporate view of people from a single system would add a lot more value than multiple silos for learning, development, performance, compensation etc. However since the business has a group who just looks after the L&D requirements you are actually likely to find that the HR Director has a HR business that is not ready to take on an integrated system – so most businesses will still come to market with a specific part of Talent Management and with an RFP where the “strategic direction” they want from the software vendor is for an “Integrated Talent Management Strategy”. In reality most businesses current structure will make this a difficult thing to implement…

Ok – so I hope this helps – top level on Talent Management, and top level on who NetDimensions sells Talent Management solutions to. I intend to drill down in the coming chapters into the different functional areas, and next week’s blog will link us from learning into competencies and the management of these things – the positives and the negatives, how most vendors talk about competencies, and the average HR Director’s view.

Bye for now, Steve.

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