Talent Management

Oceanic Pharmachem Private Limited (OPPL) believes that talent management requires investment in development both for the ‘many’ and for the ‘few’ based on ideas of prioritization and needs.


Talent management has to be all-inclusive, with development opportunities offered to all managers and staff.

From the business perspective, talent management is not about giving all employees every development, but about prioritising business investment in development where it will make the most difference to business effectiveness or needs and decrease business risk. It must therefore be strongly aligned to business strategy, and a key component of employment strategy.

Addressing the issue of priority-setting in employee development is also important, and usually means tackling different kinds of decisions. The first step is to decide broad groups of staff to invest in, including senior leadership, mid-career professionals, or younger entrants. The prioritization is always influenced by business priorities and where resourcing is more difficult.

The industry has a tendency to leave the experienced mid-career staff somewhat neglected. Leading technology companies and professional services firms are recognising the importance of prioritising and developing the capacity of the ‘middle’ as business needs change. Experienced staff may need new skills, but their jobs also often need redesigning to reflect new priorities and to remove or re-engineer tasks that do not add value.

Developing employees in mid-career is not mostly about courses, but about giving them access to new experiences to extend their skills. They can be involved directly in leading change, perhaps supported by informal coaching, mentoring or perhaps learning sets.

Some talent management priorities also arise from labour market shortages in what companies often call ‘operationally critical’ jobs or workforce groups. These may not be senior roles in grade or pay terms but are nonetheless crucial to delivering the business and may be a skill shortage group.

The second stage in development priorities is more difficult. A proper consensus has to be reached if all members in a particular workforce group are to be developed to the same skill level or if only select particular individuals need more stretching development activities.

Good managers are central to the performance, engagement, development and retention of the people. A talent management approach may aim to spot first line managers who want to progress their careers and have the ability to do a bigger or more complex management job. Depending on the context, this type of talent intervention can be at a range of levels or career stages. Those selected as possible successors or members of talent pools may be offered more stretching developmental opportunities to help them progress their careers and to test their career preferences. Approaches to give support to under-represented groups can be woven into this type of talent management.

So taking a business view, different kinds of development investment may address both the many and the few in any given workforce group.

If organisations try and spot potential for career progression, they need to be very careful to avoid managers just developing their favourites or perpetuating inequalities of gender or race. This is why talent management has to take place against definitions of potential that are relevant to the different kinds of jobs or levels in the organisation; test and challenge the views of individual managers; and integrate talent management with real time tracking of diversity and inclusion data.

Talent management also needs to plan development of individuals, through various Personal Development Plan (PDP). However, talent management trends support moving this away from being just about courses and towards making the PDP genuinely personal and tailored to the strengths and needs of each person and to their situation. So PDPs may not be expected to give the same development to everyone doing the same job. They can also be modified to include career-related development as well as development to improve performance in the current job. Talent management explicitly includes talking to individuals about their career aspirations and interests.

In essence, talent management brings together two perspectives – the organisational and the individual – focusing development where it is needed by the business and where it is a good fit to the aspirations and abilities of individuals. Seeing opportunities to develop people in ways that also help the organisation has to be part of a wider culture and mind-set throughout – not owned by HR or seen as a set of HR procedures. When it works well, it benefits both the organisation and its employees.