December 4th, 2012

Leaders Are Making Talent Management a Top Priority

Author: Owen Sullivan, CEO, Right Management, President, Specialty Brands ManpowerGroup

Only half of organizations regard talent management as a top priority, according to a recent survey Right Management conducted with 537 U.S. organizations. The study uncovered that 13% of organizations make talent management a secondary priority, and for the balance not a priority at all. Given talent is the only sustainable source of competitive advantage today, it begs the question – are your leaders focused on the right initiatives to optimize performance and deliver results?


It may be that ‘talent management’ is still an emerging concept for non-HR professionals. Nevertheless, our research finds that HR executives are fully on board with the process, despite implementation posing a continuing challenge. What the survey data tell us is that much of senior management hasn’t yet focused on talent management as an integrated strategic concept, even if they actually support many key elements.


A talent management strategy includes, among other facets, recruitment, talent assessment, training & development, retention and leadership programs with each being closely aligned with the organization’s business objectives. Our research indicates that many senior leaders and human resource professionals recognize all of these as worthy objectives and are making good efforts in the right direction, but may not see how they ought to fit together as an integrated strategy.


Respondents were asked to cite the core elements of their organization’s talent management strategy, if applicable. The following ranking is the result:


  1. Leadership development (e.g., coaching, high-potential programs, succession management, onboarding, performance management, cross cultural competency)
  2. Talent acquisition (e.g., sourcing, hiring, selecting and onboarding talent)
  3. Employee engagement (e.g., engagement and retention strategies, wellness, productivity optimization)
  4. Individual and team development ( e.g., competency modeling, organizational, team and individual assessments)
  5. Organization effectiveness (e.g., implementing strategy, workforce alignment, change management)
  6. Outplacement and workforce transition (e.g., career transition assistance, career management and development)


Leadership development seems to be central to everyone’s idea of a talent management strategy. Clearly this is the key pressure point for most organizations. Most seem to agree about the goals… to retain high-value talent, to insure future leadership and to plan and manage succession.


It’s not surprising that organizations are of a single mind when it comes to bringing on and developing top talent. The political, social, economic and workplace changes under way are unprecedented, and mean that top leaders and HR professionals need to rethink work models, people practices and sources for the right talent. Investing in building a talent strategy as the most strategic way to create competitive advantage.


If your business strategy is contingent on those that are executing it, maybe it’s time to take a hard look at your talent management strategy.


Interested in learning more? Download the full research study.

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