5 Talent Management Misperceptions to Avoid

Drawing of a growing bush in a pot with the words "Cultivate Your Talent"

While most leaders appreciate the value of talent management, few are set up to cultivate their top talent in a way that makes the best sense for their organization.

We have spent over twenty years working with executives on how to build a talent management strategy that will support future growth. Here are five of the most common misconceptions under which leaders begin the process:

  1. If we develop high potential employees, they are more likely to leave for another company.
    Here’s the deal. If you don’t offer your top workers good opportunities to grow and advance, they will most likely leave anyway. There is some risk your best employees will jump ship if offered a wonderful opportunity, but the alternative is to settle for workers who are stagnant in their careers. Doesn’t that pose a greater long-term risk for the organization? Just like top sports teams allow their best assistant coaches to interview for head coaching jobs, the best leaders encourage growth and put their employee’s best interests first.
  2. If people know our list of high potentials, we risk a loss of morale among those not selected.
    We have found that the opposite is true. When leaders open up the process and are transparent about their talent strategy and criteria for selection, all employees are more likely to trust the integrity and validity of the high potential strategy. Assuming that the process is fair, accurate, timely, consistent, and inclusive, exposing what it takes to be a high potential raises the performance bar and creates positive performance pressure.
  3. If we are a relatively small organization, there is no need for a talent management strategy.
    On the contrary, we believe that small companies are even more vulnerable than large companies when they lose key employees. With fewer employees, each person is critical and their role unique. The focus should be on identifying key positions and cross-training employees to do more than one job so there is a viable succession plan for unexpected changes or vacancies.
  4. If high potentials have excelled in their specific field of expertise, it makes sense to keep them in that role.
    We suggest a different perspective. Shouldn’t you be looking to develop a breadth of skills in your top performers and a willingness to take on the challenge and the risk of learning new skills? These would be attributes of true leaders. Yes, promote high performers in their own arena but also look for those high performers who are dedicated to growing their knowledge outside of their comfort zone.
  5. If budgets are tight, it is far too costly to invest in high potentials.
    While not all training and development investments make sense, there are many ways to provide career development opportunities within an organization that does not require a huge investment. You can give your top performers stretch goals or assignments; or give them a chance to lead a critical project; or assign them an executive mentor who can help them see the bigger picture of business planning; or assign them to a job rotation program. How much would you invest in your top performers if you knew it would keep them from leaving or disengaging?

Smart talent management requires being able to look down the road to see what key positions need to be filled two to five years from now. It is a long-term strategy that plans for the future success of the organization. It is never too late to start.

To learn more, download Talent: 1/3rd of the Talent Management Recipe for Success

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