Talent Management: Business Buzzword Or Performance Panacea?

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (July 17, 2007) – Is the term “talent management” a fuzzy new catchphrase for tired, old concepts? Or is it a term that defines a dynamic way of thinking about managing key personnel that drives better performance? According to a recent Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) study based on responses from 524 business professionals, the answer depends on how companies use it.

Talent management is a poorly defined and executed concept in many companies, with only about a third of participants rating their organizations as good (30%) or excellent (5%) at managing talent. Just a quarter of respondents say their organizations have an agreed-on definition of talent management, and just 38% say the phrase is used to a high or an above-moderate degree.

But talent management is associated with performance benefits for companies that manage it well. Companies that define the phrase and use it more frequently are much more likely to see themselves as good at managing talent. More importantly, the study found that these same companies are significantly more likely to be high market performers. Whereas only about a third of all respondents rate their ability to manage talent as good or excellent, nearly half of the best market performers in the survey do.

“It’s no surprise to me that talent management pays performance dividends when it’s done right,” said Jay Jamrog, i4cp’s senior vice president of research. “As the war for talent heats up, more companies will be looking at integrated talent management as their secret weapon to succeed and ultimately outperform. But it has to be more than just a buzzword. It has to become part of the culture of the organization, and the responsibility has to be borne by groups outside of the HR department.”

i4cp’s talent management study shows that companies that identify themselves as good talent managers are also more likely to integrate talent management with other human capital processes. And they are more likely to believe that all managers, not just HR professionals, are responsible for the execution of talent management.

Jamrog noted that integrating talent management into the culture requires communicating what it means and why it’s important. The i4cp survey shows that the most widely cited strategy for improving talent management is to more effectively communicate its importance.

Participants in the study also helped define what goes into an integrated talent management initiative. The study identified nine primary components:

  1. Leadership development
  2. Career planning
  3. Development of high-potential employees
  4. Performance management
  5. Succession planning
  6. Learning and training
  7. Competency management
  8. Retention
  9. Professional development

“Understanding what the most important components of talent management are can go a long way toward helping organizations integrate the concept into their cultures and other human capital processes,” stated Jamrog. “Clearly, it’s a lot easier to manage something well if you know what you’re trying to manage.”

The Talent Management Survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with HR.com, in April 2007. For more information about this study, please contact Greg Pernula at pernula@i4cp.com or via phone at (727) 345-2226.

About i4cp, inc.

Building on the 35-year history of its predecessor (the Human Resource Institute), the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp, inc.) improves corporate productivity through a combination of research, community, tools and technology focused on the management of human capital. With more than 100 leading organizations as members, including many of the best-known companies in the world, i4cp draws upon one of the industry’s largest and most experienced research teams and executives-in-residence to produce more than 10,000 pages annually of rapid, reliable and respected research and analysis surrounding all facets of the management of people in organizations. Additionally, i4cp identifies and analyzes the upcoming major issues and future trends that are expected to influence workforce productivity and provides member clients with tools and technology to execute leading-edge strategies and “next practices” on these issues and trends. i4cp is a for-profit company with its headquarters in Seattle, WA, and research offices in St. Petersburg, FL.