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'Talent management is about doing things for your best people and investing in their development'

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Knowing the aspirations and potential of your staff will help you get the best out of them, says Sue Pemberton

Recognising and managing talent in an organisation is the key to ensuring success. Talent management enables an organisation to assess the performance and potential of its individuals and gives you, as a manager, a clear overview of the potential and aspiring staff you have. It can help with succession planning, making sure you have someone who can deputise for you in your absence as well as a replacement should you move on to pastures new. And importantly, it improves personal and job satisfaction for those individuals.

“Talent management is about positive things - doing things for your best people, investing in their development, building on potential and helping them make the best use of their strengths and improve on their weaknesses” (Garrow and Hirsch, 2008).

The talent management strategies of successful organisations contain three directives:

  • Cultivate those who will contribute most now and in the future;
  • Retain key position back ups;
  • Allocate training, rewards and education based on actual and potential contributions.

How you begin to manage your talent

  • Spend time with the senior leaders across your organisation and explain to them the purpose of managing talent. Make sure you outline the benefits to be had both to the individual staff members, on a personal level, and the organisation as a whole.
  • Use a recognised talent-mapping tool to identify individual staff members within teams, where they sit, and how this fits in relation to their development. This involves looking at whether staff: partially meet expectations in relation to their role; fully meet expectations; and exceed expectations. By mapping this out, you can plot where your staff are with regards to their development.
  • It is important to ensure that, when considering what level your staff are at, you also assess the individuals’ values and behaviours and whether they are congruent with the mission statement of your trust.
  • Spend time with your education teams and work on designing an education programme that will support and develop staff at all levels, with a particular focus on the rising stars that you have identified on your talent map.
  • Ensure the talent-mapping exercise is repeated at six-monthly intervals.
  • In this way, you will be able to make sure that you are evaluating your own progress.
  • The final step is to use the information you obtained by conducting the talent-mapping exercise to allow you to populate a succession planning tool. This will ensure that both you and the organisation have assurances that you have people who are ready to step up into a more senior position if required to do so.

Sue Pemberton qualified as a nurse in 1990. She is deputy director of nursing and governance at Liverpool Heart and Chest Foundation Trust

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