Talent management creates a motivated, engaged workforce to maximize the performance of your most important asset – your people. Many focus on HR’s role in talent management. While we build the strategy and processes that can help build a positive employee experience, the responsibility of implementation lies with the managers.

A talent management strategy can only be successful if HR can foster a strong partnership with managers. We must build buy-in on the key components needed for success: attracting, developing, and retaining talent that is right for the company and the team – broken down into these steps:

Step 1 – Attract great talent – the right person for the company, team and job.

Step 2 – Provide the tools and resources needed to succeed

Step 3 – Develop and engage employees

Step 4 – Mobility and transition

Step 1 – Start with Talent

Think about your company’s hiring strategy. I am sure some focus on hiring’ top talent’ – those considered leaders in their perspective field. Others may focus on finding candidates who are an 80-90 percent skill match for the job. While I support skills-based hiring since some technical jobs require specific experience, my preference falls outside both approaches.

I have found more success by hiring candidates focusing on soft skills and the capacity for development. Technical skills can be taught. What cannot be taught? Personality and cultural fit. Managers should understand the personality traits a candidate needs to succeed in the job and on the team – then match them accordingly.

First, understand the culture of your company. There are many different types of company cultures, and your business or industry is likely a strong influence. Is yours a caring culture focused on supporting each other, a learning culture focused on development and learning, a safety culture focused on safety first, or a results culture focused on goals/KPIs?

Next, understand the dynamics and strengths of your team. Your team may approach work logically with a focus on facts, mostly work on tasks individually and collaborate when needed. Or your team may be cooperative and eager to work together to share ideas and resources. Note that someone who prefers to work cooperatively may have challenges working on a team that approaches work individually. This doesn’t mean that the team should be homogeneous, but group dynamics determine the productivity of the team. Additionally, specific characteristics make a successful team, including a positive attitude, trust, communication, accountability, and efficiency.

I have found that if a candidate checks all of the technical boxes but their personality and the way they are wired are not compatible with the company culture or the team dynamic, the hire will likely be short-term.

Step 2 – Provide Resources for Success

An effective onboarding program helps employees find footing in their new roles. Only 12% of employees agree that their company does a good job of onboarding new employees, according to the State of the American Workplace Report - Gallup 2017.

There are standard best practices in onboarding, and there are those that go the extra step. Providing the right tools impacts employees’ productivity and will enable them to do their job well. Start with providing the job duties, training in necessary systems, and setting expectations for the first 90 days. Training on how to use those tools safely is also essential if the tools include mechanical or technical equipment.

“Professional relationships are like personal relationships – you should only expect employees to stay with your company for as long as the relationship is beneficial for both parties.”

While department introductions are often incorporated, don’t forget about the cross-functional support introductions that will help an employee in their day-to-day work. Basic onboarding includes company policies and procedures. However, taking time to show new employees how to complete tasks such as expense reports, log their work time, or schedule travel will reduce questions and unnecessary stress later.

Be mindful of sharing the tools and benefits your company offers that promote well-being, as these offerings demonstrate your company’s commitment to your employees’ whole self.

Step 3 – Develop and Engage

After an employee is hired and onboarded – you want to develop and retain them. HR professionals understand that employees will do their best when they feel supported and valued. Our job is to help managers learn how to demonstrate their support through intentional actions.

Managers are key in helping employees connect with co-workers and build their skill sets. Recommending opportunities for new employees to build relationships can be done through activities, a cross-functional task force or a resource group. This allows new hires to build a network of people to seek answers when needing information to perform their roles.

It takes time and intention to determine what career path the employee desires and address individual needs. Managers set the tone and communicate – directly or through their actions – what is most important to focus on. They can accelerate a new employee’s success through training, frequent feedback and performance reviews.

HR can help by providing tools and talent management strategies – such as a scheduled check-in plan, a 60-day feedback loop, a recognition program or employee resource groups.

Step 4 – Mobility and Transition

The most overlooked step is transition. Managers need to plan for employees in critical roles to transition – to another role, another team and even out of the company. Mobility within the company is constrained only by an employee’s readiness or a company’s opportunities.

Succession planning allows managers to be proactive in assessing roles and internal talent to be able to fill a vacant job. In addition to facilitating succession planning, HR may consider formally outlining the mobility process for promotion and transfer to allow transparency and alignment between managers and employees.

Professional relationships are like personal relationships – you should only expect employees to stay with your company for as long as the relationship is beneficial for both parties. I support an employee growing above and beyond their job description – but with a lack of opportunities or proper succession planning, the opportunities for an employee can feel limited. In some cases, they must find opportunities outside the company to grow into the job the employee desires. And we should wish them well in their future endeavors.