Friday, 21 December 2007


Recently I was speaking to the Managing Director of a large engineering company, and described his new corporate university as a tool for talent management. "That's just waffle" he said, before I had the chance to expand on my theme. I was taken aback, but on reflection I have to admit that there was a time when I would have been inclined to agree, and to see this as just another bit of HR jargon.

Not any more. Once you investigate talent management, it becomes clear that it's the sort of common sense, good practice that many managers and many organisations simply don't do. Therefore, it needs to be systematically explained, and it needs a name.

One of the problems with those who can see beyond the cynical view of the MD I spoke to is that they still tend to view it too narrowly. Some see it as being just about nurturing the most talented people in an organisation, while others see it as the new name for succession planning. It is these things, but it's also so much more.

One of the key concepts in talent management is about identifying key talent in your organisation and finding ways to retain and grow, manage and utilise, develop and reward them. Which, in defiance of the Peter Principle, can mean keeping good engineers as (recognised, respected, rewarded) engineers, rather than promoting them to managerial roles where their engineering skills are wasted, and where they may be of significantly less value to the organisation.

We need more converts to talent management, and we need more talent management programmes. As the Talent Management Pocketbook puts it, "every business needs a talent mindset".

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