Talent Management: Strategies and Challenges


Dr. Vidyeswari V
Jitha G. Nair
Lecturer (HR)
SCMS, Cochin


The vivacious nature of global business is putting an ever-increasing pressure on companies to be constantly on the lookout for incomparable talent in a market where demand far exceeds supply. Given the current focus on the linkage between talent and an organisation's business challenges and strategies, effective strategy execution requires sufficient numbers of the right people with the right skills and knowledge, in the right roles. Pressing business necessities, such as increasing turnover as the economy improves, globalisation of markets and labour forces, aggressive competition and heightened corporate oversight, have intensified the need to acquire, develop, deploy, motivate and  retain key talent. Getting the right people with the right skills into the right jobs, a common definition of talent management is the basic people management challenge in organizations. While the focus of talent management tends to be on management and executive positions, the issues apply to all jobs that are hard to fill. This has made talent management one of the most pressing issues facing senior business executives


Distinctly called human capital management, employee relationship management and workforce management, among others, talent management is not a new concept, but one that in the past corporations haven't been set to finalize. In most companies functions such as recruitment and succession planning, learning and development, performance management, workforce planning, compensation and other HR or training functions have often been isolated in departmental silos. While important individually, these programs are usually a loose potpourri of HR initiatives with little relation to each other, little arrangement with the organization's vital few business goals and little real way of measuring their bottom-line impact.

Talent Management enables organizations to rapidly align, develop, motivate, and maintain a high-performance labor force. They also alleviate the hassle of writing performance reviews by automating the task and ensuring quality of reviews and reviewed on time. Organizations can establish and communicate critical corporate goals, measure performance improvement, and ensure that all levels of the organization are aligned to attain critical business objectives. The six dimensions of talent management are as shown in table 1below

Talent management dimensions


Develop strategy

Establishing the optimum long term strategy for attracting, developing, connecting and deploying the workforce

Attract and retain

Sourcing ,recruiting and holding onto the appropriate skills and capitalize, according to business needs

Motivate and develop

Verifying that  people's capabilities are understood and developed to match business requirements, while also meeting people's  needs for motivation, development and job satisfaction

Deploy and manage

Providing effective resources deployment, scheduling and work management that match skills and experience with organizational needs

Connect and enable

Identifying individuals with relevant  skills , collaborating and sharing knowledge and working effectively in virtual settings

Transform and sustain

Achieving clear measurable and sustainable change within the organization, while maintaining day to day continuity of operations

Table 1 :- Six Dimensions Of Talent Management
Source: IBM Institute for Business Value/Human Capital Institute.

Talent management and HR

Talent management suddenly evoked the charm and attention for the business world. Much of the reason may be due to the fact that technology has finally begun to catch up. Human resource management systems (HRMS) providers, already present in many businesses, have begun to create add-on applications that provide a strategic layer on top of the more administrative HR functionalities they already offer. It seems obvious then that the functions that make up talent management can no longer be viewed independently, or hidden in HR or training departments if they are to be truly successful. Rather, talent management must be counterfeit from a true partnership between management and the departments that oversee the "people function." The main characteristics of HR and TM are as shown in table 2 below.


HR process

TM Process


Greater efficiency , obedience

Better management of people to achieve strategic business goals


Shorter time to hire , lower cost to fill, higher percentage of employees reviewed

Higher quality hires , stronger leadership pipeline


More efficient HR performance

Better business performance


HR professionals / power users

Business managers , HR professionals

Decision makers

HR specialist

HR specialist, senior executives, business managers,

Technology solutions

Feature rich single function applications, designed for HR professionals

Comprehensive , configurable cross functional solutions designed for business managers

Table 2:- Characteristics Of HR And TM Process

Many HR processes and systems that organizations use today to manage people suffer from three fundamental flaws as shown in figure () below

                                             Figure 1: Fundamental Flaws In HR Systems

Because of these flaws in most HR systems – limited direct business impact, difficult for managers to use, and poor integration – business managers use them only halfheartedly. They do not adopt them as vital to achieving their business goals.

The greatest talent management system on the market is worthless if the organization is not prepared to adopt and integrate it. Each company needs to take inventory of its people and processes, answer questions about its direction and who is responsible for getting it there. Most importantly, companies need to break down the ever present "departmental silos" by creating an environment in which technology can be leveraged to facilitate and maximize an already well-thought-out program and to link it the organization's strategic goals.

Talent management challenges

Business success relies on successful talent management. If a hospital executive can't find nurses, a retail store executive can't develop and engage store managers, or a lab director can't keep great scientists, they will have difficulty meeting their organization's strategic business objectives. The challenges of finding, keeping, developing, and motivating people in key positions are precisely what progressive HR professionals should be focusing on. These managers face ongoing talent management challenges that are critical to their achieving business goals. The main challenges are as shown in figure 2 below

                                          Figure 2: Challenges in Talent Management

Many organizations believe that effective talent management practices can be a significant source of demarcation in today's cutthroat competition in a globally integrated economy. At the same time, industries face their own set of unique challenges – a situation that has led ventures to focus on different pieces of the talent management "puzzle." A recently completed study by IBM highlights how knowledge- and service-intensive industries tend to spend significant time and attention on talent management activities, while not-for-profit organizations appear to struggle to make the most of their workforce. Knowledge-intensive industries tend to focus on developing and connecting their employees. Financial services companies tend to focus on employee attraction and retention, Retailers apply a notable number of talent management practices overall and finally Government agencies, educational institutions and some healthcare firms fall short in managing talent and sustaining change

Effective talent management processes and systems can have a significant positive impact on business. The most valuable systems are those that deliver direct value to the business manager, which are easy to use, and that are integrated across functions. Processes and systems that meet these criteria are well-suited to help companies meet their critical talent management challenges.

Strategies for talent management

Talent Management, usually  referred as Human Capital Management, is the process recruiting, managing, assessing, developing and maintaining an organization's most important resource—it's people!

The typical strategies include:-

1. Merge talent management data by having incorporated exceptional capabilities in learning, performance, and compensation management software

2. Automate the talent management process into an online solution there by reducing time and costs of performance reviews.

3. Recognize and close employee performance gaps by instantly turning automated performances appraisals into training development plans.

4. Align training demand with performance needs and strategic goals directly there by reducing time and money spent on non-strategic training activities.

5. Eliminate conflicting evaluation criteria by applying a standardized solution that impose consistent language, feedback, and evaluation criteria

6. Use reliable, fair pay-for-performance initiatives

Talent Management processes is typically found in numerous parts of an organization. Thus, many organizations struggle to align their talent management under one consistent strategy. It may be a considerable challenge to make this happen. For example, a cohesive talent management strategy is as shown in figure 3 below

                                        Figure 3: Cohesive Talent Management Strategy

To apply these strategies a 4 level engagement model is applied the business managers which is as shown in figure 4

                                                  Figure 4: 4-Level Engagement Model


Failures in talent management are mainly due to the mismatch between the supplies and demand not due to the failure in the concept. We need a new way of thinking about the talent management challenge.  A new framework for talent management has to begin by being clear about the objectives. Talent management is not an end in itself. It is not about developing employees or creating succession plans. Nor is it about achieving specific benchmarks like a five percent turnover rate, having the most educated workforce, or any other tactical outcome. The goal of talent management is the much more general, but the most important task of TM is to help the organization to achieve its overall objectives.


1. Kevin oakes,(2008), "talent management :the new silver bullet." www.talentManagement101.com

2. Authoria.Inc, (2008), "Make Talent Count: Talent Management for Progressive HR Executives", www.authoria.com .

3. "what is talent management: defining a clear technology strategy" , (2007) www.talent management101.com

4. "Integrated talent management Part 3 – Turning talent management into a competitive advantage: An industry view", (2008), www.IBM.com

5. Peter Cappelli , (2008),"Talent Management is a Business Problem",www.nasscom.in

Dr. Vidyeswari V
Jitha G. Nair
Lecturer (HR)
SCMS, Cochin

Source: E-mail July 15, 2009


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