Talent management is about getting the right people in the right jobs and doing the right things. Have you ever heard someone say, “I need to make sure I have the right people on the bus and in the right seats”? This is talent management, however; it requires predicting how employees will act in the future and getting them to act differently from how they acted in the past. So you not only need to predict their future behavior based on past behavior but you need them then to act differently- sounds easy right. In order to be effective, talent management processes must take into account the underlying factors that influence employees’ decisions and actions. They must be based on how people actually behave, which is often different from how business leaders and managers want them to behave.
Talent management broadly refers to strategic HR programs designed to maximize workforce productivity. The field of talent management covers a range of HR functions focusing on attracting, retaining, managing, and developing high quality workforces. It includes performance management, staffing, compensation, learning management, employee development, and succession planning. The growing interest in talent management is primarily a result of increasing recognition of the impact talent management practices have on business growth and profitability (Berggren & Lozaga, 2008; Boudreau & Ramstad, 2007).
Aligning employee behaviors with a company’s business needs is the basic goal of talent management. In trying to achieve this alignment there are factors outside the control of the organization include things like competitor activity, economic market conditions, or government legislation. However, there are factors within the control of the organization include things like business strategy, organizational structure, or workplace policies. One factor that companies can influence that has a major impact on business results is the behavior of their employees.
Employee behavior is where the “rubber meets the road” in terms of talent management. Talent management practices, whether focused on staffing, compensation, performance management, or career development all share the same goal of aligning employee behaviors to support the company’s business strategies and objectives. But talent management practices do not impact employee behavior directly. Employee behaviors are determined primarily by enduring attributes of the employees themselves (e.g., beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, abilities, skills and motivation). These attributes are shaped by individual differences between employees related to their personality, ability, and values, as well as aspects of their work environment such as incentives, resources, and coworkers. This is where talent management comes in to play. What talent management programs do is encourage the hiring of certain kinds of employees and the creation of certain kinds of work environments. If done correctly, these programs increase the likelihood of employees displaying on-the-job behaviors that drive business results.
While understanding employee behavior can be confusing, talent management is not as complex as it might seem. The key is to design and deploy talent management systems with a good understanding of the basic factors that influence employees’ actions at work. This means implementing talent management systems based on how employees truly behave, and recognizing and accepting that this may be quite different from how we might wish they would behave.
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