Most Common Talent Management Killers

If you could build an entire talent management system your way, what would it look like? And would it even be a program just for selected talents?

I reached out to a few recruiters and asked them what they thought were the sure-fire killers of Talent Management. What do they have to overcome and what are the most common negatives they have to deal with in their programs. I was surprised how many of their answers were the same or very similar. What does that mean? That we can avoid these talent management killers if we know about them.

Rotation around the world, higher positions and other positives

Promises of failure, one would like to say. What seems to be worse for talent than failing a program? It’s unmet expectations, although both often end the same way - we lose talent. Big plans are made at the beginning, talent is promised an exchange with a colleague abroad, a rotation within different teams in the company or a new, higher position.

Unfortunately, the cost of the exchange with a foreign colleague is calculated afterwards (and we are breathless at the unexpected amount), the managers who should be affected by the change get to know the rotation plan too late (they don’t want anyone on their team who will mess things up), or the position for which the talent was supposed to prepare so carefully is still filled (the person in question is still not going to retire).

We’re forgetting the facts that don’t “fit” us.

This is a very popular practice in talent management. Talent is assigned a project to lead and is responsible for its successful implementation. However, we forget the facts - the talent has never managed a project before, has no experience in managing people, and so the new project, which was supposed to be an opportunity to learn something new and deepen management skills, becomes a nightmare both for the talent (who over time stops feeling that he or she ever had the talent for anything) and for the management, who watches the progress and the results are in sight.

Let’s not hope that he/she will “get over it” or that he/she will “get through this challenge”. It usually doesn’t turn out well. It’s better if someone (a mentor) is designated to help guide the talent through the project and introduce him/her to the principles of project management at a minimum. The less experienced employee will breathe easier right away.

A completely different area of interest

The “scope of work” for talent and their projects is usually defined at management level with an attempt to match the needs of the company with what might be interesting for the employee and where they might learn something new. However, be careful about the selection of the final employee who will be involved in the project.

It can easily become a reality, for example, that a person working in the IT team deals with the adaptation of female employees returning after maternity leave, not because he is so interested in it, but because this topic is left to him (no science fiction, reality…).

If employees have the opportunity to try out an area other than their day-to-day work as part of talent management, this is obviously a big positive and can lead to the uncovering of previously undiscovered talents. Or it can lead to them knowing what is definitely not their “area of expertise”.

Time commitment and priorities

Classic talent management - we select for the program those who, without being in the talent pool yet, already don’t know where their head stands, but because they are some of the best, we like to challenge them. It’s only natural that we then select these best ones to join the program in the final round (of course we don’t ask if they are interested or not, it’s quite clear that they are - how else).

This practice usually ends the same way. The employee works on his “talent project” after working hours, because there is no time for it during working hours (after all, customers who bring in money take priority), and so the talented employee feels overloaded, frustrated and under pressure. At best, he or she no longer wants to be a talent; at worst, he or she stops wanting to be our employee.

Lack of training and development

What will bury your talent management clearly is the lack of potential talent. If you are unilaterally focusing only on those who are currently in your pipeline, you will have a big problem in the future with whom to staff the program.

A cover for what needs to be done right now

Is your business facing a problem that no one has a clear-cut solution to? Then the solution to such a problem (often renamed a challenge) is given to the talent to showcase. It’s not so important whether it just corresponds to the area in which the employee is supposed to improve or gain experience.

The main thing is that they have the opportunity to prove themselves and “move on”. Experience tells us that the bigger the “challenge” is, the greater the motivation for talent to get out of such a project.

The never-ending administration of the process

Talent management is often a corporate process whose principles and rules must be followed in all regions. Someone sometimes invented the process, and while they certainly had the best of intentions, over time the process swelled until it became quite a mishmash.

It’s a messy process, well fed by lots of paperwork, mountains of paper with lots of data that has to be updated every now and then (e.g. age, last assessment, etc.) and a complete lack of an information system.

Such a process is regularly fed by several reviews throughout the year which must take place to assess where the talent is moving. Everyone is annoyed that they have to participate, yet usually nothing earth shattering is done because little time has passed since the last review and nothing has simply happened in that time.

Talent management on a cloud of irony

Politics is not only a privilege of public life, it thrives very well in the corporate environment. Talent Programs from time to time feature those who have no business being there. The force that gets them into the program may be their unparalleled self-presentation and ability to sell themselves (that’s talent too, we have to admit), or it may be the power of the word of their supervisor who, for whatever reason, wants that particular employee to be talent.

Let’s not forget that the environment is not blind and is instead very sensitive to these phenomena. If there is someone in the program who is widely known to simply not belong in the program, they will certainly be called Talent, but certainly not for their talent.

Big, bigger, biggest!

We usually start with a pilot project, implementing talent management in one team. The moment it proves successful, we spread it further. If something like this happens in a corporation, the next popular step is to implement it regionally, or even globally. Talent management success in one country does not automatically guarantee success in another.

On the contrary, the system often collapses, meaning is lost, goals start to clash, communication is difficult to ensure, and the successful project that the program started out as becomes one of those corporate processes that people fulfill because they have to.

A lack of interest on the part of superiors

The list of killers would not be complete if a point on the subject of superiors did not appear. They are the ones who can build talent management from nothing and ensure its success, praise and admiration. But the condition is that they see sense in it, it is beneficial for them, it is not unnecessarily complicated and administratively demanding. It is the superiors who can stomp him out of the country or bring him back in the same way.

If you want to implement talent management and are lucky enough to be able to do it your way from the start, approach it as a process that should remain lean, ideally managed through an information system. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself if it’s worth having a sophisticated learning and development system rather than a narrowly focused talent management system. Nor is the idea that everyone has talent sinful, except that some may shine immediately and others a little later.