What is your talent strategy?

by Prof. Dr. Armin Trost

Talented employees are a blessing for any company. Especially in the past decades, more and more companies have been striving for appropriate talent management. This of course raises the question about an appropriate talent strategy.

Here is suggestion A:

You have to actively locate talent in the company and pay particular attention to them, otherwise their valuable potential will be wasted. We therefore consider it a key leadership responsibility to look for and identify talent within the company.

We  consider it a key leadership responsibility to look for and identify talent

For this purpose, we have appropriate tools. As a company, we take responsibility for the development of our most talented employees. There is hardly a better investment than the active and targeted development of our talents. In order for our talents to learn as quickly as possible, we sometimes throw them in at the deep end, where it appears to be useful from a company perspective. In addition, we provide our talents with strategically coordinated training programs. This enables us to ensure that our talents will learn what the company actually needs. We assign a mentor from top management to each talent. We systematically look for the right match. Employees expect clear perspectives and career paths. That is why we describe as precisely as possible how to get to the top at our company. Utilization and promotion of our talents is based on matching up suitability and requirements profiles. This avoids the personal preference factor.

Sounds great, right?

This is followed by suggestion B:

Talents, which do not become visible as talents on their own steam, are not considered talents. It would be helpful in this scenario to create opportunities for them. Employees are supposed to recognize their special talents themselves and present them on their own responsibility. We actively promote this. Responsibility for the development of our employees lies with the employees themselves.

Responsibility for the development of our employees lies with the employees themselves

We enable them, where necessary and desired. Talent does not have to be encouraged, otherwise they are not special talents. The only thing we can do as a company is to clear any hurdles out of the way. Talents search on their own for deep ends and jump into it themselves. We should trust them and not hinder them or worse deny access. Employees develop and use training opportunities independently. They know best what helps them. They receive appropriate support (such as coaching, budget). Talents choose their mentors themselves. They must win their mentors themselves. If they fail to do so, they will have few opportunities in the long term. There are as many career paths as there are employees. Nothing is required or dictated. Everything is individualized. We offer our employees a transparency on past experiences and careers of others. In the end, personal trust always determines the opportunities a talent will get. Trust reduces complexity.

This doesn’t sound bad either. Two completely different worlds on one and the same topic. Almost all large companies have talent management. But how many of them have a talent strategy? And how many have actually thought about whether they tend to prefer alternative A or alternative B?