Research by Alliance for Talent Development (ATD) shows that HR departments, due primarily to budgetary considerations, are less likely to perceive talent management as an integrated process, let alone to address it as such (ASTD global conference, 2009). Departments like HRD, for instance, will receive more budget when they have an attractive talent development program on offer and career development will receive more funding when they support the organizations’ outliers on carefully laid out career paths. It seems to me that every HR department fights for a piece of the puzzle, without actually completing the picture.

When talent development does take place, it’s rather often decoupled from business needs and strategy, unfortunately. My recent experience with Tempo-Team has proven to be a positive exception to this rule. In 2013 I was involved in the design and development of their potential program. It aims to bring 80% of young potentials across business units, roles and brands to promotion across the organisation within a period of 1,5 years. This business impact metric brought the development side of the program into immediate alignment with talent management, both in terms of the promotions that were offered and the sharp selection that had to take place before the program. Tempo-Team formulated SMART entry requirements for the candidates and utilizes a regular potential assessment process, three-way dialogues with managers, candidates and HR and an assessment to help narrow the selection.
What drove Tempo-Team to invest in this effort? Over an extended period prior to this initiative external hires were found to be significantly less ‘durable’ and therefore more costly than ‘homegrown’ talent. Sustainability of their talent pool was therefore a requirement.

To integrate the talent development efforts more strongly, organizations have a frequently untapped opportunity to make strategic organizational development part of the ‘curriculum’. Unfortunately the two worlds of working and learning are separated quite often, rendering organisational development through learning impossible. From an integrated perspective – and Tempo-Team did this splendidly – that separation is not made. Jobs, roles and projects connect seamlessly with the topics in the talent program and the curriculum provides ample opportunities for talents to learn on the job and not only in the classroom.

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After talent programs have come to an end, some organizations stage regular talent reviews (Bryan and Joyce, 2007; Cappelli, 2008) to optimize the match between talents, jobs, projects and initiatives. An even smaller group of organizations will offer their talents personal support in their career development, sometimes even after they’ve left the organization (FowLab, 2015). The combination of talent reviews and career development creates a fruitful dialogue between the organizational need for talent deployment and the talents’ unique desires for their professional development and careers.

How does the level of integration of your talent management efforts stack up? Show us your field notes and let’s continue our joint journey to bring our organizations to the future and vice versa.