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It’s difficult to anticipate every change that will affect your business. Fortunately, HRDs have a key advantage: talent. HRDs need to identify, motivate, and develop talent, the key team members awarded strategic positions. The challenge is shifting from a model of managing an organizational skillset to a model of managing talent. Talent management is based on the idea that each individual has natural talents in specific areas.

1.Talent: high potentials excel beyond simple business expertise
Whether they are labeled “promising executives” (Carrefour), “potentials” (Danone), “future talents” (Michelin), or “young graduates capable of leading the company in the long term” (McKinsey), HRDs agree that high potentials excel beyond simple business expertise. A study published in 2012 by Bersin & Associates [1] says leaders recognize talent by their creativity, influence, strategic focus, curiosity, and ability to inspire others.

2. Shifting to talent management
In the 1950s, William Whyte [2] pointed out the need to shift from a strategy of HR leaders seeking employees to fill positions to one of seeking out the positions most likely to enable individual high-potential employees to flourish. His reasoning is that people are more efficient and more engaged when fully exploiting their natural aptitudes (their talents!). This is the whole challenge of talent management as compared to skills management.

3.Talent management is present in all areas
Talent management was originally limited to sectors experiencing fierce talent wars (notably, IT companies in Silicon Valley in the early 2000s). Today, it is present in all areas, as competition between companies to recruit and retain the best employees has become widespread. Based on a study carried out in 2010 by Ernst & Young [3], 60% of companies around the world already expect to see a talent shortage in the years to come. 64% of them have put in place in-house talent development programs.

[1] « Building the Borderless and Agile Workplace » by Josh Bersin (Bersin & Associates, January 2012).
[2] « Bring Back the Organization Man » de Peter Cappelli (Harvard Business Review, March 2012).
[3] « Managing today’s global workforce : Elevating talent management to improve business » (Ernst&Young, May 2010).

Read our dossier

The People Who Make the Difference – Managing Your Most Valuable People

Based on Clever by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, Harvard Business Press, September 2009, and the interviews with Stephen Dando, chief human resources officer, Thomson Reuters, and Valérie Ngom, director of Heliofelis Training and Consultants, April 2010.
Business Digest nº 206, may 2012

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