Editor’s note: This is the second article in a series about talent management.
It is impossible to implement a talent management program without clarifying what work people do now, what kind of people are successful doing that work, and what talent means in the organization.
Analyzing the work is accomplished through systematic work analysis, carried out to prepare current job descriptions that realistically summarize work requirements. While job descriptions have many flaws, they are still necessary to clearly explain the work activities and results essential to good work performance. Without that, organizational leaders will not be sure what people do, how they do it, or what measurable results workers are expected to achieve.
Analyzing the people is carried out by competency modeling, which profiles successful performers at every level and/or in every department of the organization. A competency model is a description of the individual who is adequate — or best in class because they are most productive — in doing the work.
Competency models stand as mirror images of job descriptions, which focus on the work. Competency models are important because they do not date as quickly as job descriptions and do a better job of covering otherwise hard-to-define interpersonal requirements of different jobs or of people at different levels of responsibility.
Determining what talent means requires organizational leaders to establish criteria for talent. There are actually different kinds of talent. For instance, individuals who are doing a good job where they are and are also promotable are called high potentials; individuals who are the most productive of anyone doing a job are high performers; and individuals who are the most knowledgeable about a specific area of the organization’s work are high professionals. Managers must decide which — or how many — of these groups to focus on.
Traditional talent management programs emphasize efforts to groom people by building the competencies they need to be considered promotable. But cutting-edge programs may also give attention to leveraging the talents of high professionals and maintaining the skills of high performers.
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