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Talent management strategy: 5 essentials for today’s world

There’s a problem with talent management in today’s world:

It’s far too broad to strategically bolster key business objectives and prioritizes HR’s convenience at the expense of employee experience and engagement.

While a strong talent management strategy will:

  • Manage employee logistics such as recruitment and applicant tracking

  • Fulfil critical skills gaps and competencies

  • Increase employee productivity and workplace performance


Flawed or outdated practices can easily sabotage any talent management initiative.

In this post, you’ll learn how to avoid “old world” talent management strategies with modern practices that empower peak organizational performance.

What is a talent management strategy?

As shared in Lars’ piece on why talent experience needs to be a priority for all leaders, the typical talent management process will cover a range of stages.

As a key function of HR, a talent management strategy addresses important stages in the employee lifecycle, such as attracting, onboarding, managing and retaining high-performing employees. This includes:

  • Applicant tracking

  • Recruitment

  • Performance management

  • Compensation and benefits

  • Skills gap analysis

  • Employee retention

  • Succession planning

  • Career management

  • Deployment


At its core, talent management strategy is about empowering employees by uniting individual employee goals with business objectives. As Douglas Conant, a renowned business leader and New York Times bestselling author, put it:

“To win in the marketplace…you must first win in the workplace.”

Examples of what employee-specific metrics and areas a talent management strategy covers include:

  • Improving the onboarding process and an employee’s time to productivity, resulting in an overall increase in organizational performance and momentum

  • Reducing employee turnover. High turnover is extremely taxing for any organization. But it’s not just the cost of replacing and onboarding new employees that deals damage, a high turnover rate creates a sense of instability amongst employees. For example, it might trigger other employees to also jump ship due to the burden of carrying the missing colleague’s workload

  • Increasing employee engagement and satisfaction rates. It’s no secret that engaged and satisfied employees are more productive and effective in their roles

  • Ensuring that employees have the right resources to meet job demands. The Job Demands-Resources model (JD-R model) suggests that higher job demands without an equal balance in resources leads to strain, health issues and disengagement. (More resources—in the form of training, tools, and support—however, can help maintain or increase performance)

Talent management strategy examples

Now that you know how talent management can affect your organization, let’s look at some real-world examples of different talent management strategies:

Example #1: Nobia UK creates an additional £88,000 per employee

With over 200 stores and 2,000 employees, Nobia is one of the largest kitchen retailers in the UK.

Unfortunately, the companies onboarding process and face-to-face induction training harmed the organization’s profitability—staff turnover was high and training was disorganized.

Line managers, for example, manually produced reports and awarded certificates. Training for employees was also inconsistent and varied from store to store.

In response to these business challenges, Nobia revised its talent management strategy with a keen focus on improving talent development practices. Nobia’s goals were too:

  • Improve employee retention rates

  • Provide employees with consistent training, messaging and support

  • Reduce time to competency and improve onboarding for new starters


Central to their new talent management strategy, the launch of a new training platform aimed at fixing key business challenges. It yielded game-changing results for Nobia. Within 6 months:

  • An additional £88,000 per employee was generated by the three-month time-to-competency saving and its direct impact on sales turnover

  • Time-to-competency for new staff members was reduced by 67% (from 5 months-7 weeks)

  • Staff retention increased by 11%


You can respond quickly to business challenges (and make your talent management strategy hyper-relevant) by taking a similar diagnostic approach to developing training material.

Start by focusing on the extremes. Identify key problem areas in your business (or among employees) and how improving talent management will foster a more engaging and enabling employee experience.

Example #2:Mitchells & Butlers achieves an 89% compliance rate

Mitchells & Butlers is a 46,000-employee umbrella brand for over 1,700 pubs, restaurants and bars in the UK including All Bar One, Harvester and Browns.

Being part of a large established group is one of the organization’s unique value propositions. In fact, it’s something only a few competitors can offer.

Mitchells & Butlers further capitalized on this competitive advantage by applying a talent management strategy that amplifies it throughout all franchises.

The goal was to create a collaborative environment where employees operated and felt like they were a part of one big family, this would result in a stronger employer brand, higher engagement and better employee performance across the board.

Described as an “overwhelming success”, the project resulted in a culture shift across the organization that inspired collaboration and development.

Compliance rates reached 89% and food quality scores (a strong indicator of employee performance and customer satisfaction) increased by 5% across the board.

Talent management strategy: 5 modern practices

If hiring talented people is the number one concern for most organizations there is more to talent management than recruitment, it goes right to the heart of the organization.

Strategy needs to be people-centric for employees to embody the corporate values and goals.

Still, we continue to witness some outdated processes which compartmentalise talent management into silos such as HR, talent acquisition, L&D, direct line managers and ultimately the C-suite.

For a greater synergy, an end-to-end talent management system must link all these silos in order to give the appropriate priority to talent management in all departments.

Once this basis has been established, you’ll be able to put in place a comprehensive talent management strategy with five essential components that will help you identify, develop and retain the best talent for your organization.


1. Culture of learning

A job should not solely be filled based on past experience and performance, but on the employee’s potential and aptitude to adapt. That’s why ensuring continuous informal and formal learning and development is key to help develop new skills and prepare for a new role.

Personalised learning will also create better engagement and will likely help retain talent.

Having a talent management system that can integrate with a learning management system such as Totara Learn is a good way to enable this and ensure learning initiatives will help your people grow in the organization and bring the organization’s strategy to life.


2. Competency frameworks

A competency framework is essentially the lingua franca of capability in the organization.

Competency frameworks (easily developed with the right agile performance management tools) help drive consistency within the business when recruiting employees, managing their performance and developing them.

This can play a pivotal role in ensuring everyone understands what is expected of them in a specific role and for a given context. An effective talent management strategy should begin with competency framework development that will serve as the foundation for future talent management initiatives.



3. Performance management

The managing of talent in the organization reaches into agile performance management.

Analytics and comprehensive talent management system solutions that have a performance capability will support this with centralized data that provides managers with clear indicators on talent strategy implementation and performance issues.

Having a talent management system that integrates with your learning platform offers further efficiencies as all training records, learners progress reports, manager ratings and appraisals will naturally feed into the talent management platform.


4. Career development and career pathing

While performance management is all about developing the skills and competencies of your workforce to meet the organization’s needs, career development is about supporting your employees to develop and realise their potential.

Understanding their strengths, skill gaps and interests is the first step in the career development process. While learning and training will be fundamental parts of your employees’ career development, structured coaching will give them the necessary feedback they need to grow professionally.

By facilitating conversations with their manager on a regular basis, the employee will gain insight into their performance and skills to work on.

It is important for employees to understand what opportunities exist within the organization and how they can work towards them. A robust talent management system will facilitate this and give a clear development path for employees to follow based on their aspirations.

This is also a clear signal to employees that the organization is willing to invest in them which is proven to improve employee retention and motivation.


5. Succession planning

Succession planning is all about knowing the needs of your organization and developing the capacity to address these needs when—and even before—they arise.

But how do you anticipate your future talent needs?

The key to effective succession planning is to be aligned with your overall talent management strategy, which then includes your training initiatives, performance management, career development and recruitment.

Collecting all these statistics will help you figure out who is competent for a role ready to be filled or who needs to improve their skills. Combining the data from all these initiatives in one place will help build one central talent pool, where you can easily spot the high potentials ready to step into a key role.

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