Home / Columns / Talent management is a critical strategy

Talent management is a critical strategy

Talent management continues to be a top concern for organizational success. In previous columns I’ve explained why retiring baby boomers and an unskilled workforce are putting pressures on businesses to become more sophisticated in how they not only attract, but also retain employees. Hiring is ramping up and human resources departments are feeling the pressure. But if a company wants to successfully compete, it must look at integrating talent management processes as a critical strategy.

Most companies already know this. In a recent Buck Consultants survey, 78 percent of respondents said their goal was to integrate most or all of their talent management programs. In reality, only 33 percent say most or all programs are integrated. If this is such a highly sought-after goal, why is success eluding those companies?

Part of the problem may be explained by how various talent management processes are developed. In many organizations, programs are developed independently by one HR function or another, or by HR business unit partners. The result is that processes are not standardized across business units and there is a lack of supporting technologies, or the technologies are developed independently and are not compatible with each other.

HR leadership is trying to do its part to support strategic thinking around integrating processes and systems. The Buck survey showed 66 percent of respondents said HR senior leaders either lead talent management processes or participate as equals on the management team. But the problem is that HR also has responsibility for implementation of talent management strategies.

Talent management success depends on engaging the business and holding it accountable for acquiring, motivating, managing and retaining talent. This is no longer a function that can be tossed over the cubicle to an HR manager. Business managers must own the processes that drive loyalty and productivity in an organization. Yes, HR experts should be involved in developing processes, templates and tools, but process execution belongs to the business. And HR should partner with managers to ensure they understand and are able to perform their critical talent management roles.

In order to help drive interest in talent management throughout the business, HR can provide leadership by focusing on talent management success measures. When HR can provide accurate and consistent tools to assess manager accountability, and measure the costs of not integrating talent management, they will be able to demonstrate the importance of talent management.

One idea is to leverage technology and standardize key talent management programs. When technology and processes are standardized, it better enables the data HR needs to measure the return on investment of talent management programs. Currently, ROI measurement is lacking in most organizations. The top answer for survey respondents was, “We do not measure it,” when asked how they measured the effect of talent management programs.

You can’t improve what you don’t understand. The challenge for HR is to get its arms around understanding talent management metrics. When HR leaders can demonstrate the effect of not managing talent, they’ll get more respect and more support for integrated talent programs that will be critical to future business success.


Michelle Hicks, a senior professional in human resources, is a director in the communication practice of Buck Consultants, a Xerox company. 

About Michelle Hicks

One comment

  1. Thanks for this article. What are the most useful metrics to measure in your experience?