Talent, the inimitable weapon, is the only differentiator for company's success in an environment that tends to be global, complex, extremely competitive and dynamic. In the late 1990s since a group of McKinsey coined the phrase The War for Talent, the topic of talent management has grown to be one of the hottest matters for management academics, practitioners and consultants as well. Research shows that 80% of a business's profits are generated by 20% of its workforce (Branham 2005) namely 'A' players so what if 'A' players hold 'A' positions?
Companies could emphasis on capital and technology or excellent processes, but the most crucial is to emphasize on people (Ready and Conger 2007). Talent management gains prominence in successful and caring companies' boardrooms targeting the most distinguished and talented people.
Many factors contributed to writing this paper. First, it is the inimitable competitive advantages of "people" contributing to success. Second, there is a lack of consensus for the definition of talent management and its practices and the overwhelming use of the term among practitioners. Third, even with overwhelming growth in the use of the term and mounting blurred in TM practices, there has been little peer-reviewed and academic support is rather fragmented with the exception of valuable contribution provided by Boudreau & Ramstad (2005), Lewis & Heckman (2006), Cappelli (2008), Becker, Huselid, & Beatty (2009) , Collings & Mellahi (2009). Finally, it is the lack of theoretical model required to clarify all of the system elements so presenting a foundation of TM is significant.
Talent management is woven in HR and it goes hand in glove with HRD that is a part of human resource management architecture. HRD deals with the all round development of an employee within an organization starting with his career development, training, counselling, updating him with the latest technology, helping him explore his potential and develop his skills which would prove beneficial to both the employee and the organization in achieving the organization goals (Werner and DeSimone 2007). Internal and external mobility is a means to keeping talent pools motivated, and ready to fill key positions when needed.
Before analyzing talent management 'DNA', the definitions and perspectives in practice heretofore, we need first to examine how talent is defined.
What is talent?
Gaining agreement about the definition of “talent” is a vital first step in being able to manage that talent well. The word "talent" dates to antiquity and has a rich history. What is now of individual value was, thousands of years ago, money; to the Hebrews, Greek, and Romans. Talent was a unit of weight when they exchanged precious metal of that weight it became a unit of monetary value. (Michaels, Handfield-Jones and Axelrod 2001). Often most organizations find greater value in formulating their own talent definition. The Chartered Institution of Personnel Development "CIPD" defined talent as “it consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organizational performance either through immediate contribution or in the longer term by demonstrating the highest level of potential” (Tansley, et al. 2006). Ulrich (2008) defined talent as the equation of 3Cs, where the three terms are multiplicative, not additive:
Talent = Competence x Commitment x Contribution
Competence, which means that employees have the skills and abilities today and in the future for required business results, focuses on staffing, training, promoting, retaining and outplacing employees. Commitment means that employees are involved and engaged to the firm and this shows in the commitment indices, reports and productivity. Contribution means that employees find personal abundance at occupation that explains the focus on meaning, identity and other restraints that tap employees' heart (Ulrich 2008).
Firms create competencies if they: set and communicate standards and identify competencies required to deliver future work; they assess individuals and teams and assess people on how well they meet standards; they invest in talent improvement; and they follow up, track competence by using measures to track how well individuals are developing their skills and how well the organization develops its talent bench. Moreover, firms Strengthen Commitment by understanding that "commitment" means that employees are willing to give their discretionary energy to the firm's success, which is considered as an employee value proposition - employees who dive value to their companies should get value back. Getting this value back requires employees to deliver outcomes in the right way. Knowing what commitment they are expected to make, the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) specifies what employees will get from the firm when they meet expectations. Therefore, the most satisfactory EVP provides what Ulrich called “VOI2C2E”: Vision; Opportunity; Incentives; Impact; Community; Communication; Entrepreneurship. At last, to strengthen contribution is identifying the relationship between the employee and the company (Ulrich and Brockbank 2005). Creating the company's own definition of talent ensure that it lays down exactly what TM aim to achieve. Hence, talent is highly correlated with current performance and future potential; and how to keep it in the firm not walking out of the door.
Talent management 'DNA'
With the intensified challenges of globalization, the growth of information age, the relative shortage of talent and the propensity of employees to change companies, TM gained more importance. What is TM and why is it important for companies nowadays?
TM is relatively a new concept emerging only in late 1990's, derived from the phrase “The War for Talent" coined by McKinsey to highlight problems that organizations had in attracting and retaining talented people.
Knowing the complexity of defining TM because of the complex responsibility operating within the strategic human resource task, the Chartered Institution of Personnel Development (CIPD) affirms that TM is "the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of those individuals with high potential who are of particular value to an organization". CIPD adds, it is "a dynamic process that has to be continuously reviewed to ensure that organizational requirements are still being met in the light of changing business priorities" (Tansley, et al. 2006). Ultimately, organizational success is the most effective evaluation of TM. This CIPD definition includes explicitly the term potential but it also embeds the term particular value that can be about anything. Armstrong defines TM as the use of an integrated set of activities to ensure that the corporation attracts, retains, motivates and develops talented people it needs now and in the future (Armstrong 2006).
Although writings fell short for being linked to peer-reviewed and researched based findings, practitioners in the field of Human Resource Management (HRM) are now mainly in the business of TM. Gurus in HRM declared that “today TM has become a powerful strategic force within organizations in general and HR in particular as businesses, schools, universities, hospitals, governmental agencies plan and prepare to meet their talents needs of the future” (Storey, Wright and Ulrich 2009). Managing talent means that steps are relentlessly taken to ensure that employees are competent, committed and contributing. TM process and practices should be in conformity with building individual and organizational capability that enhances teamwork (Storey, Wright and Ulrich 2009). Lewis and Heckman (2006) revealed that there is “a disturbing lack of clarity regarding the definition, scope and overall goals of TM”. A CIPD survey found 51% of HR professionals surveyed and in charge of TM activities, only 20% of them operated with a formal definition of TM (Tansley, et al. 2006) . The literature review revealed that as Ashton and Morton (2005)declared clearly that there is no single and concise definition of TM, hence, we will analyze TM perspectives to date.
Some organizations adopt an inclusive approach to TM creating a ‘whole workforce' approach to engagement and talent development (Tansley, et al. 2006). Therefore, at one extreme, TM can encompass the whole of HRM for the whole of the workforce, which is not very helpful when trying to narrow down what one means when talking about TM (Garrow and Hirsh 2008). In the war for talent for instance the authors emphasized identifying the top 10 percent not only for hiring but for retaining and nurturing once inside the company where this will implicitly suggest ignoring everyone else (Pfeffer 2001). In more details, there is more than one kind of inclusivity. While other organizations perform more exclusive focus segmenting talent according to needs. Exclusive strategies concentrate exclusively on an elite high-potential few or pivotal positions, rather than the inclusive ‘whole workforce' approach".
The literature could mostly illustrate four research strains, the first three streams recognized by Lewis and Heckman (2006), then Collings and Mellahi (2009) added the fourth stream.
Talent management: reshaping human recourses management (inclusive)
TM is conceptualized in terms of typical human resource department practices and functions (Lewis and Heckman 2006). It renames HRM and reshapes HRD while restricting their focus on some of the HR practices like recruiting, leadership development and succession planning (Heinen and O'Neill 2004 , Cohn, Khurana and Reeves 2005). Researchers of this stream have an extensive view of TM that can be distinguished from traditional HRM by being strategic and future-oriented, is relatively close to thoughts of the strategic human resource management literature (Collings and Mellahi 2009).
Talent management the custodian of the old succession planning focuses on talent pools (exclusive):
It ensures the adequate flow of people in the organization and that is central to projecting employees and staffing needs and managing the growth of these employees into positions where the focus is mainly internal (Boudreau and Ramstad 2005). This perspective concentrates on the job flow of employees within an organization, is also known as ‘‘succession or human resource planning'' (Conger and Fulmer 2003) focusing on internal labour market eventually on internal mobility of employees (Lewis and Heckman 2006).
Talent management generic (inclusive)
TM is treated as a generic entity disregarding the organization boundaries or precise positions. Within this perspective two views of talent develop. A first approach is considering talent a valuable good; the performance levels where high performers are being sought and rewarded regardless their position, so it is opposing the previous perspective where position is sought not the performance pool. In this point of view advocates either classify employees according to their performance levels as “A”, “B”, or “C” as to be top, competent and low performers and taking action to “C' players (Michaels, Handfield-Jones and Axelrod 2001) , or “topgrading” the organization by only recruiting the “A” players (Smart 1999). The second approach of generic talent emerged from both the humanistic perspective where the role of a strong HR function is required to guide everyone to high performance (Buckingham and Vosburgh 2001) and demographic perspective and business tendency make talent more of value (Lewis and Heckman 2006). This approach can be problematic because it is not preferable to fill all positions with "A" players (Collings and Mellahi 2009).
Talent management focus on "A" positions filled with 'A' players (exclusive)
Collings and Mellahi (2009) recently added a fourth perspective. They argue that, in contrast to strategic human resource management that generally focuses on all employees within the organization, “strategic TM focuses on those incumbents who are included in the organization's pivotal talent pool and who occupy, or are being developed to occupy pivotal talent positions”. Collings and Mellahi (2009) emphasized the identification of key positions that can differentially contribute in sustainable competitive advantage of the organization (Whirlpool 2007, Garrow and Hirsh 2008, Huselid, Beatty and Becker 2005). Here the approach improves the theoretical development to differentiate TM as a decision science (Boudreau and Ramstad 2005) and the traditional HR plans and strategies, and the starting point will be the position rather than talented individuals per se (Collings and Mellahi 2009, Whirlpool 2007). This complies with Cheese (2008) who is certain about what he called “old paradigm” to find the best and brightest and give them "free rein", has proved organizations' failure.
At last, most of the different definitions revealed by the analysts and the areas of focus demonstrated that TM is not just about HR and is based on the notion of talent mindset. Collings and Mellahi (2009) end up with a clear definition and paving the road of TM:
Strategic TM as activities and processes that involve the systematic identification of key positions which differentially contribute to the organization's sustainable competitive advantage, the development of a talent pool of high potential and high performing incumbents to fill these roles, and the development of a differentiated human resource architecture to facilitate filling these positions with competent incumbents and to ensure their continued commitment to the organization.
When going globally this definition
Global TM includes all organizational activities for the purpose of attracting, selecting, developing, and retaining the best employees in the most strategic roles (those roles necessary to achieve organizational strategic priorities) on a global scale. Global talent management takes into account the differences in both organizations' global strategic priorities as well as the differences across national contexts for how talent should be managed in the countries where they operate.
Eventually, TM strategy focuses on three types of questions. The first type: what part of the organization must be better served by taking persistent approach to developing talented jobholders; the second type is about where to find good people from inside or outside for the purpose of pivotal roles; and the third type is about what development outcomes the organization seeks to accomplish (Garrow and Hirsh 2008).
Global talent Mobility
The global mobility of talent is correlated with more advanced approach of TM, which is the global management of talent that is fraught with many challenges (Mellahi and Collings 2010) . Global mobility advocates a careful attention for human resource development, it is obvious to talk about MNCs when talking about global talent; this refers to many factors. First, there is a growing recognition of the contribution of globally competent talent in organization's success and to remain competitive where talent is needed in different locations of the global business (Ready and Conger 2007). Second, employers shift the competition from country level to regional and more to global level (Scullion, Collings and Caligiuri 2010). Third, shortages in managing talent internationally especially leadership talent have been an important limitation to implementing global strategies successfully (Cohn, Khurana and Reeves 2005). At last, the exponential growth of emerging markets urges the demand of significant managerial talent who can operate in different cultural context and in distant markets (Scullion, Collings and Caligiuri 2010). Rotating talented people into various roles and functions will give them the chance to round out their competencies and skills and be ready for general management. Consequently, best thinking in leadership development embraces mobility for key role managers, internal or external moves.
Talent development requires mobility between business units domestically and abroad. It is essential that job shifts and production structure be fundamentally aligned because developing large pool of talent could lead to oversupply and the developed cadre would simply have no place to go. Therefore, mobility into upward movements will be limited. Mobility is an advantage considering that consistently growing and developing employees would result a large leadership bench that could undercut employees motivation to reach higher positions. Hence, lateral moves with new and challenging tasks contribute to retain those overachievers who lead the company to a sustained competitive advantage. Three main issues are fundamental to develop a mobility strategy, first what kind of mobility is to be performed, second for whom and finally how much mobility. Knowing that people staying too long in one job are no more able to fast promotions, that is why talent responsible ….
Mobility as a leadership development strategy can go off beam in several ways:
- It would disrupt and weaken accountability because individual may leave before their decisions play out.
- Employees who are not in the cycle of mobility and development may suffer of the routine and may feel demoralized especially when they stick to jobs too long.
- Mobility is expensive when it deals with international assignments.
- It helps people chasing new experiences perhaps in the fervour of other strategic and operational aims. (Nalbantian and Guzzo 2008)
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