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10 Steps to Develop a Successful Talent Management Strategy

Managing the employees who work at your organization throughout their lifecycle is much like tending to a garden. You need to find the best seeds for your unique soil and sun, plant them wisely, nourish the new sprouts, and ensure your plants have enough space and nutrients to grow tall and strong. 

Just haphazardly sprinkling seeds around your garden and hoping they survive won’t help you create a beautiful and productive space with every element working in harmony — that takes planning and careful cultivation throughout the growing season. And the same goes for the talented people in your organization. They need attention, care, and thoughtful planning to thrive and deliver the best results. 

That’s where your talent management strategy comes in. It helps you plan for every stage of your talent and employee lifecycle so that your company, and your people, can be more successful. This guide will cover everything you need to know about creating a successful talent management strategy to deliver increased employee retention, engagement, and satisfaction. 

What is a Talent Management Strategy?

A talent management strategy is a thoughtful plan you put in place to hire the right people, develop their skills and talents, and retain them for the long term. 

What Does a Successful Talent Management Strategy Look Like?

While it’s a simple concept, developing and executing a successful talent management strategy can be complex because it covers every part of the employee lifecycle.

Recruiting and Hiring 

From creating a strong employer brand to building your talent pools to providing an excellent candidate experience, getting the right people into your organization is a critical task. In fact, bad hires can cost at least 30% of the employee’s first-year salary, so getting this wrong has tangible and significant costs. 

Onboarding and Talent Development

Once you’ve got the best people hired, you need to onboard them successfully so they’re set up for success and feel like part of the team right away. Then, you must help them develop their careers at your company through promotions, lateral moves, and upskilling so they can grow. LinkedIn research has found that three of the top five reasons people leave their companies is due to their desire to learn, grow, and develop new skills, so providing these opportunities for them is key to retention. 

How to Create a Talent Management Strategy 

Creating a strategy that covers every part of the hiring and employee experience is a big task, but it’s manageable when broken into these ten steps. 

  1. Identify Your Business Objectives 

Begin by considering your current and future business objectives. Are you trying to expand into new markets or become more innovative? Are you looking to streamline your operations and become more efficient? Laying out exactly where you want to go with your business as a whole will help you create a strategy to get there. 

  1. Audit Your Current Talent Management Situation 

How does your current talent management situation stand in your business? Perhaps you’re struggling to hire the right people but have good retention rates, or vice versa. Assessing your current situation clearly and honestly will help you identify what you can keep doing and what you need to fix to better manage your talent. It can be helpful to review your key talent metrics

  1. Assess Your Competitors 

Once you know where you stand, it’s critical to assess where your competitors for talent stand as well. Of course, you won’t have access to most of their key metrics, but you can check on Glassdoor to see what their employees say about them, and ask your recruiters who you’re losing your top talent to and what swayed their decisions. Knowing what’s holding you back from hiring and keeping the right people is essential, even if it can be challenging. 

  1. Gather Employee Feedback

Next, check in with your current employees to see how they feel about your workplace and their experience. You can ask them through surveys or focus groups, but be sure to keep the information you receive confidential so employees feel safe giving open and honest feedback (that’s the only way to learn what’s wrong and what’s really working). Also, explain what you’re going to use the information for — it makes them feel included in the process. 

  1. Identify Opportunities and Gaps 

Now that you’ve gathered all this information, it’s time to sit down and go through what you’ve learned carefully. What gaps currently exist in your talent management? Where are you performing well? What opportunities for improvement or advancement do you see? It can be difficult to see and process negative feedback, especially if you weren’t expecting it, but that’s where the real opportunities for growth lie so don’t explain them away. 

  1. Find Your Areas of Focus 

Consider these opportunities and gaps — what do you need to prioritize right now in the short term? Which ones will be vital in the long term? These questions will help you identify your areas of focus and prioritize them accordingly because you can’t tackle everything at once. 

  1. Develop a Strategic Plan 

It’s time to create your talent management plan — put together all that feedback, your metrics, your areas of focus and your business objectives and turn it into one comprehensive and strategic document. Once that’s assembled, you can begin to create a plan of action to improve your talent management now and in the future. And don’t be afraid to take a hard look at solutions that might have seemed off the table in the past. 

For example, if your analysis of your competitors revealed that you’re losing tenured employees to companies that offer higher salaries, it can be tempting to think that it’s too expensive to bump up salaries to match those offers. 

But if you look holistically at all the data you’ve gathered in this process, you might find the cost of your turnover and hiring replacements (typically one-half to two times each employee’s annual salary) actually costs more than the higher salaries would — and you can make decisions accordingly. 

One of the most important items in the plan is determining which KPIs you’ll use to measure your success after you implement it. You must choose these in advance so you can accurately measure your progress and see what’s working. 

  1. Execute Your Plan 

Creating the plan isn’t enough though — you need to implement it. Let employees know what changes you’re making and why so they understand where your company is headed and what part they have to play in it, and ensure your HR teams and managers are ready to answer any questions too. While these changes might all seem urgent, it can be better to implement just a few at first so you avoid overloading employees and HR teams. 

  1. Continually Measure Progress 

Those KPIs you identified in your strategic plan are critical here, as you measure your progress once your changes are in place. You need to regularly check in on those KPIs to ensure your plan is working as anticipated and get ahead of any needed tweaks or updates. Share positive progress with employees too so they know you listened to and implemented their feedback (that’s great for engagement). 

  1. Adjust As Needed 

If you’re noticing that your talent management strategy isn’t performing as well as you hoped, in a few areas or overall, it’s not a cause for despair. You simply need to experiment and make more changes to see what works best. There’s no one magic formula for talent management that works for every company — you need to find what works best for your unique business and keep testing and iterating. 

After all, new trends in talent management pop up regularly, and often they’ll require small tweaks (or even big overhauls) of your strategic plan to stay successful. This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it way of operating — labor markets change, employee demands do too, and your company has different needs. So schedule regular reviews to keep your strategy on track. 

Looking for ways to make implementing and tracking your talent management solutions more effective? Cangrade can help with our Retention Forecast and Workforce Development tools.