Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who is Responsible for Talent Management?

As talent management solution vendors, we are constantly asked ‘who in the organization is responsible for talent management’? The broad answer to this is ‘everyone’. The best processes that we have seen for developing and monitoring organizational talent includes a role for HR, managers, executives, and employees. In most cases, it is a fair statement to say that HR is responsible for leading the charge; however, without active involvement and support from managers and business heads, an ideal talent management system or strategy will never realize its full potential (Gina Abudi, Developing Organizational Talent).

What role do Managers play?: While HR usually provides the processes, workflows, and systems to enable talent management, it is ultimately managers who are responsible for nurturing, guiding, developing, and identifying talent. Managers work directly with employees and as such have top-of-mind indications of performance issues, development requirements, possible successors, and overall output. For an effective talent management strategy to take effect, it is important that managers are given the tools, time, and training to effectively communicate, document, assess, identify, develop, and align talent. HR can provide the knowledge and platforms for evaluating and engaging employees, but management must properly USE those tools and processes.

What role do executives play? Executives and business heads are usually the defining force of the effectiveness of an organization’s talent management strategy. HR does serve as consultants, shepherds and owners of tactical execution of talent management processes; however, without commitment from the top, these processes are likely to be underestimated by managers and thus poorly executed. Talent management should be at the heart of business strategy. It is vital that executives show their commitment to talent management systems and processes in order to ensure user adoption and foster management’s engagement in the process. Executives often times approve the framework and systems that will be used for company talent management. HR can do its best to educate and lobby for ideal workflows and systems but decision makers must ultimately approve them in order for them to be implemented.

What role do employees play? Fortunately, employee roles in building a solid talent management strategy also have direct benefits to the organization. Employees are responsible for developing and executing performance goals that are aligned with company objectives, are expected to participate in performance and development plans and discussions, and are often times asked to provide insightful feedback about processes, peers, and management. The good news is that studies show that employees who are aware and involved in performance management processes are more likely to be engaged in their roles. High employee engagement has a direct correlation to organizational success - and that’s just good news for everyone.

What role doesn’t HR play? It is clear from the above outlines that HR seems to be involved in almost every aspect of talent management. In a  sense this is true – a company’s HR department has the mindset and expertise to identify bottlenecks in talent management, and propose, execute, lead, and maintain any remedies. HR’s role is challenging and sometimes underestimated. HR should be leaders and experts of their organization’s talent management strategies and yet possess the skills and patience necessary to convey instructions and processes to every level within the organization. Recent years have shed light on the strategic importance of HR’s contribution to a company’s bottom line. This, coupled with the availability of cost effective solutions for automating systems, has led to HR being expected to add performance accountability to their laundry list of duties. The good news is that technology is freeing up more and more time for HR to focus on talent management strategy and optimization instead of talent management administration.

Quick Tip: One of the most effective strategies that we have seen organizations deploy is the creation of ‘Talent Management Tactical Teams’ that consist of a relevant mix of management, HR, I.T., decision makers, and in some cases, top performers. The Tactical Team is responsible for reviewing, evaluating, and executing an organization’s talent management strategy and systems. This approach is very effective as it exploits the strengths and weaknesses of current practices and produces a talent management strategy that works for every level and department. We have also found that solution purchases made to simplify and streamline talent management processes are more likely to be considered and approved in a timely manner if decision makers are reassured that solutions have been analyzed and given the go-ahead from multiple departments.


Gina Abudi. Who Is Responsible for Developing Talent? Accessed September 19, 2011.  http://www.ginaabudi.com/who-is-responsible-for-developing-talent/

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