Talent management

Published on January 23, 2012 Reviewed on November 28, 2019   56 min

A selection of talks on Management, Leadership & Organisation

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Hi, my name is David Collins and I work at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and my talk today is around a topic of talent management. I'm sure many of you have come across the term talent management before. It's certainly something that we read a lot about in the business press. It's something that occupies a lot of managers' time, yet it's something that we don't have a very complete understanding of what it is, and how it matters to organizations. So hopefully over the course of the next 40, 50 minutes or so, we'll unpack some of the mystery around talent management, and think about what talent management is, and how it matters to organizations.
There are two key themes which will form the basis of today's presentation and provide a structure for us. The first one is to unpack a little bit exactly what we mean by the term strategic talent management. So what is it? Secondly, why does it matter to organizations? How is it different to human resource management? Are there other types of people management that have gone before? I think that's quite an important questions to think about. The second part of the presentation focuses on the challenges of managing star employees. So unpacking the extent to which simply hiring great talent is a route to performance, and thinking about some of the challenges that star employees bring to organizations, and some of the challenges that are focused on managing those star employees in talent management systems creates for other employees in the organization.
Before progressing onto a discussion of what talent management is, I think it's important to think a little bit about the context of talent management. By that I mean, understanding a little bit where the terminology came from, and how it became so central to the managerial lexicon over recent decades. I think when some authors like Peter Cappelli, and the like, would argue that talent management actually has a long historical legacy and has been in evidence in many organizations for long periods of time, I think there's certainly a lot of truth in those arguments. In the mainstream use of the terminology talent management, that certainly emerged around the mid to late 1990s when a group of McKinsey consultants coined the term 'the war for talent' to reflect the challenges which US organizations in particular were facing in the context of tightening labor markets, and the challenges which they face to find key employees to staff their organizations, and retain those employees, and overall the contribution that those employees could make to corporate performance. That idea very quickly caught on. Within a decade, a survey undertaken in the UK context by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which is the body responsible for the HR profession in the UK, found that 51 percent of managers they've surveyed undertook talent management activities. Around the same time, a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which focus specifically on CEOs and organizations, found that the majority of those CEOs spend in excess of 20 percent of their time on talent issues, with some spending up to 50 percent of their time. The same survey found that the majority of those CEOs argued that their sense was that talent management was too important to be left to HR alone. It was so central to the performance of their organizations that they felt it was a responsibility of the entire management team, not just HR. Again, another survey by the Boston Consulting Group, which looked at the future of the HR function in Europe through to 2015, found that talent management was one of the five key challenges which the HR profession managed in Europe. Interestingly, another one at the top five focused on the problems of demographics and the labor force, which is where we started with the whole argument about talent management in the McKinsey Studies in the US context. Interestingly, the Boston Consulting Group study also found that it was the one which managers felt least prepared, the least to able to deal with. So it was something that was hugely important to them, yet they felt they were least able to deal with it, least prepared to deal with it.