Meaning of Talent Management


The Meaning of Talent Management

Talented people possess special gifts, abilities and aptitudes which enable them to perform effectively. Talent consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organizational performance, either through their immediate contribution or in the longer term by demonstrating the highest levels of potential.’  (CIPD, 2007). Talent management is the process where organisation/management  identifies, develops, recruits, retains and deploys the talented individuals.

The term 'talent management’ may refer simply to management succession planning and management development activities, although thie notion of talent  management does not really add anything to these processes except a new name. It is better to regard talent management as a more comprehensive and integrated bundle of activities, the aim of which is to  make sure that organisation is not short of talented individuals who are very productive and would help oirganisation perform better through thick and thin by securing the flow of talent in an organization. However, there are different views about what talent management means. Some follow the lead given by McKinsey & Company, which coined the phrase the war for talent’ in 1997.  Five imperatives that companies need to act on if they are going to win the war for talent; these are as follows:

Five Imperatives for Talent Management

  1. Creating a winning employee value proposition that will make your company uniquely attractive to talent.
  2. Moving beyond recruiting hype to build a long-term recruiting strategy.
  3. Using job experience, coaching and mentoring to cultivate the potential in managers.
  4. Strengthening your talent pool by investing in A players, developing B players and acting decisively on C players.
  5. Central to this approach is a pervasive mindset a deep conviction shared by leaders throughout the company that competitive advantage comes from having better talent at all levels.

The checklist has been misinterpreted to mean that talent management is only about obtaining, identifying and nurturing high flyers, ignoring the point they made that competitive advantage comes from having better talent at all levels.

Doubts about the war for talent concept

Fighting the war for talent can be problematic. Companies that adopt a talent war mindset often venerate/honor outsiders and downplaying the talent already in the company and create an attitude of arrogance instead of an attitude of wisdom. Thus the War of talent could very well be a harmful concept to be put in place by the organisation, and could act as a discouraging notion for the people in the organisation. HR practitioners have conflicting viewpoints, On one hand there is a belief that everyone has got talent and it’s just needs to be nurtured whereas on the other hand professionals need to focus on the best.

It is believed that to maximize the performance of the organisation there is a disparate need to enhance the performance of workforce. Pellant (2007) found that No organization should focus all its attention on development of only part of its human capital. What is important, however, is recognizing the needs of different individuals within its community.’ The general consensus seems to be that while talent management does concentrate on obtaining, identifying and developing people with high potential, this should not be at the expense of the development needs of people generally thus others should not suffer as a consequence, as it could result in parties in the organisation.


  • CIPD (2007f) Talent Management Fact Sheet, CIPD, London.
  • Michaels, E G, Handfi eld-Jones, H and Axelrod, B (2001) The War for Talent, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.
  • Pfeffer, J (2001) Fighting the war for talent is hazardous to your organization’s health, Organizational Dynamics, 29 (4), pp 248-59.
  • Thorne, K and Pellant, A (2007) The Essential Guide to Managing Talent, Kogan Page, London.