Every organisation has talent.

But not every organisation necessarily has the commitment, capabilities or experience to optimise its performance.

Talent management is neither a case of simply squeezing a sponge to produce results nor does it require gently stroking of a precious gift.

Both methods spoil the environment.  

In-depth expertise is required to get both the art and science of people management right.

Structure is essential in any case.

Talent management and long-term success are intricately linked.

Smart decisions around data, technology and systems combined with effective deployment of people sets leading organisations apart.   

Enter the ‘Talent Pool’.

A Talent Pool is nothing more than a centralised repository where an organisation stores information related to its people.   

An integrated career tracker to manage:

  • System / Application / Building Access
  • Organisational Charts
  • Skill Gaps / Depth Charts
  • Training Programmes
  • Resource allocation
  • Performance reviews
  • Collaborative networks

A one-stop shop for on-boarding and off-boarding of people with the ability to extract a high-level Curriculum Vitae (CV) at the end.

That would be nice.

The above picture shows that a central Talent Pool enables an organisation to gain insight into all kinds of information:

  • A ‘Depth Chart’ to highlight proficiency in skill sets across a team, department or area (also for Business Continuity Planning).
  • A ‘Career Chart’ to indicate progress in roles & responsibilities.
  • A ‘Resource Chart’ to show who works on what initiatives with whom, where and for how long.
  • A ‘Performance Chart’ to depict competency ratings for everyone.
  • An ‘Organisational Chart’ to figure out reporting structures.
  • A ‘Network Chart’ to convey areas of collaboration across the organisation.
  • [A ‘Recruitment Chart’ to plug skill gaps…]

A multi-layer cake comprising independent stacks for security, audit or confidentiality reasons with a support team in place to maintain data integrity. 

Talent management is a process too.

To get into a bit of detail, the process starts with a central team uploading new joiners’ details into a system to facilitate actions such as background checks, building access, desk allocation or system set up.

It then continues with each respective department picking up their request from a queue for action whilst the new joiners receive a welcoming pack by accessing the ‘external face’ of the platform.

Each professional profile is subsequently enriched with skill sets, roles and initiatives as careers progress.

Using a quick snapshot, the central team can now also see who is joining when and where and what induction, training or other programmes are needed to help people embed or further themselves into the organisation.

As the picture already indicates, this Talent Pool can be leveraged for all kinds of people insights including depth, organisational or recruitment charts.

Each chart warrants a separate write up however let’s take a closer look at the ‘Resourcing’ and ‘Performance’ charts.

To start with the Resourcing Chart, every organisation has initiatives that could be classified as departmental, business, region or firm wide.

Provided these are known, the central team can set up a governance structure either by tagging managers to lead certain initiatives or by asking managers to submit their names for consideration.

Each leader gets selected through a series of interviews, managerial input or other methods.

A similar process at each stage of the governance structure with a principal lead submitting a ‘resourcing request’ for either managers to action or by asking people to tag themselves dependent on the project.

Once an initiative is complete, we arrive at the ‘Performance Chart’ of the Talent Pool where each person or stakeholder who worked on a project has the opportunity to provide feedback on their colleagues’ skill set or competencies.

Performance reviews are not only there to measure what people have achieved but also how this was accomplished.

This means that competencies must be tailored to an organisation’s values, principles and purpose.

There must be firm wide competencies as well as specific ones for each division, department or role.

For example, a project manager does not really need to know as much about the business as a business manager and vice versa for project management.

It pays to take a step back to think about what exactly differentiates an organisation to capture those attributes in a performance review to encourage, guide and promote those behaviours within a culture.

For example, generic competencies such as leadership, communication and teamwork are fine yet specific ratings around written, verbal or presentation skills establish what part of, say communication, a person is particularly good at.

Consider the inclusion of organisation-wide competencies related to cross-team collaboration, business innovation, creativity or being a change agent.

And emphasise the importance of information sharing, inclusivity, objectivity and diversity within an organisation.

Increased transparency around such capabilities also enables the central team to determine the type of talent, skill set or experience that is needed to complete different missions.

Skill sets are visible to everyone in the Talent Pool whilst ratings are confidential yet accessible to authorised personnel in the background.

To maintain integrity, objectivity and confidentiality, designated leads must take charge of the various aspects of this process to also incorporate business unit specific feedback from direct team members where appropriate.

By asking stakeholders to provide feedback directly after an initiative, performance reviews become a more continuous process with comments shared with a person after say 2-3 initiatives rather than an overly engineered undertaking at a specific point in time.

The 360 feedback process must be randomised a bit more to leverage the ‘Wisdom of the Crowds’.

People do ultimately know the score.

To sum up, a Talent Pool measures what and how things have been achieved including a why with each initiative linking back to a clear company objective, mission and vision.

Knowing who has worked on what initiatives with whom also highlights an organisation’s internal network i.e connections.

A Talent Pool makes sure that interests are aligned across an organisational network not only to make the feedback process work but also to clarify who services whom and give people credit to think, operate and act outside their specific units where appropriate.

A Talent Pool exists to shift focus to more value-add conversations by providing everyone with the necessary tools to progress their own career themselves.

With a high-level CV at the end to outline achievements.

Talent management is effectively about helping each individual discover where their capabilities, interests and joy intersect to benefit the organisation.

Organisations that get this aspect right set themselves apart.

A Talent Pool may actually reduce the number of feedback cycles to focus on getting the job done instead.

That would be something.

Inspiration is what is needed to breathe new life into superficial talent management practices for us all to move closer to a genuine meritocracy.

Progress facilitated by cleaner decision-making.

Let’s take a proper deep dive into Talent Pools to discover what wonders are hidden beneath the surface.

Now that requires leadership.

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