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The Talent Management Process in ten steps

Providing an employee with the right competences, at the right time and in the right place – and interacting with this employee sustainably in a supportive and motivational manner – are objectives that companies in the German-speaking business world often fail to meet.

This cannot be attributed to a lack of employees or knowledge, but rather has far more to do with the lack of a talent management strategy, which is mainly regarded as a “bureaucratization” of the relevant processes, as opposed to bringing engagement and support for employees to the fore. Moreover, while this vitally important task generally sits within HR’s top priorities – and in particular those of forward- thinking CEOs –it is rarely practiced as such and incorporated within the organization.

In much the same vein, changed values, Generation Y, new forms of work and last but not least further developments in IT present quite new challenges for talent management. Yet these interconnected tasks cannot be dealt with using technology alone. Based on a wealth of customer experience over the past ten years, and confirmed by current studies, we have developed ten principles that should help you to develop an approach to talent management that will help you to master the above-mentioned tasks.

  • Effect a paradigm shift in the organization. Bring the subject of talent management as a leadership principle to the fore. The organization’s management approach must undertake to embrace a culture of support and retention, in order to substantiate the concept of lifelong learning. Achieving this culture is no trivial matter. Organizations need senior leaders who “live” the talent management ethos. Let’s be clear: talent management is not a simple matter of staff administration.

  • Believe in your employees‘ potential. Many companies unknowingly undervalue the potential of their employees and miss out on the opportunity to foster talents and take advantage of their wealth of experience and knowledge internally. They are far more inclined to take the risk of creating a high turnover of knowledge holders. If you cannot retain, exploit and transfer knowledge in the organization, your competitiveness will suffer significantly. Develop and recognize collectively where the potential of your employees lies. Each and every one of them brings a variety of experiences, prospects and other potential. Only when each team member recognizes how much value s/he can create and how important this is, can you positively influence motivation and engagement.

  • Promote task and job rotation in the organization. Both the employees and the company benefit when they extend their knowledge and can spread this throughout the organization. Create clear and unequivocal career paths, which go beyond hierarchically pre-set career structures. Demonstrate to your employees that there are opportunities to develop themselves over the next one, two and five years. Create transparency.
Alexander Woelke, Managing Director, tts

Many companies unknowingly undervalue the potential of their employees.


Alexander Woelke, Managing Director, tts

  • Make employee development a privilege. Training is often sold these days not as a benefit, but as something that costs a lot of time and money. Employees thus perceive these “compulsory events” as a burden. Sell further training as a special honor. Develop a learning culture, one which supports learning so that it is expected and taken for granted. Whoever thinks that simply offering education is motivating in itself is making a big mistake. Employees must be motivated in a variety of ways to extend their knowledge and prepare for upcoming tasks.

  • Create a generally valid method for measuring performance and for comparing your talents objectively. Many companies implement performance management and measure employees, but make the measurement very dependent on subjective impressions. Each manager judges employees differently, without objective criteria. Make sure that your assessment of performance is based on objective criteria and transparent processes for all participants. Promote a culture of dialogue, in which the attainment of objectives is discussed openly and the necessary steps are worked on between employees and managers. Make performance management a part of day-to-day work and not an isolated mandatory process.

  • Use Big Data. Make an HR cockpit available to management, with which they can identify both the talents that are currently available and future competency shortfalls as well as possible courses of action. Once you have created a talent strategy you will in future also have the possibility to review the resulting data in a target-oriented and diagnostic manner. Approximately 85 percent of HR departments are still not in the position to deliver information about employees, their competences and potential in a targeted way to management based on data analyses.

  • Position the subject of talent management to your staff. Discussions with employees offer a good opportunity to position the subject of talent management among staff. Talk about it and bring the employees on board. Put employees at the center of your talent management strategy: each employee has different expectations regarding the “right” talent management strategy. Only via individual discussions can you find out the requirements and expectations of the employees and use the right elements of talent management on an individual basis.

  • Make yourself measurable. What is the financial benefit created by HR and talent management? This parameter does not depend on how many employees you save. Develop key performance indicators with which you can demonstrate how your talent strategy contributes to the company’s success.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to starting a talent management strategy.


Alexander Woelke, Managing Director, tts

  • Give the process time to mature. Talent management is for the long term, not limited to the chain of actions linked to the CEO’s time in office, but a long-term and sustainable corporate strategy. Radical changes have nothing to do with a well-engineered process but are, on the contrary, damaging. It does not work to impose the organization of talent management from one day to the next if you expect sustainable results.

  • Think in terms of concepts first, and tools later. tts has already implemented many IT systems for customers of all sizes, often when there was no coherent concept embedded within the organization. Our experience shows that it is better to wait with the tools until the subject of talent management is strongly anchored within the organization.

How should we already be addressing 2020 today?

Be aware that there is no single correct path towards developing a talent management strategy. Each organization is different; each way of viewing a talent is different. Talent must fit within the company context. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to starting a talent management strategy.

The 10 principles demonstrated above are for orientation when establishing talent management processes in the organization. Its manifestation can and must be adapted to the requirements of the relevant industry and the size of the organization, embedded in your employee structure, and it must be brought to life by everyone, starting from the CEO and extending all the way down to the lowest levels of your organizational hierarchy.