Identifying the talent amongst your employees

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

More and more organisations are looking more closely at and developing a strategy and plan to improve how they identify, measure and develop their key employees as part of talent management.

While your “A” players or “top talent” are typically those who demonstrate proven performance outcomes and strong values and behaviours it’s important to focus on developing these employees in a more systematic and sustainable way to help achieve business goals in the longer term and keep these talented employees interested, engaged, developing, learning and growing.

Identify your top talent among your employees

Your “A” players will have characteristics or behaviours that make them a top performer. These will vary by organisation or department. In some parts of your organisation, being able to deliver results may be the driving factor, while in others; the ability to innovate might be the most important characteristic.

To identify your top talent, pinpoint the characteristics that are vital to your organisation’s success. Find ways to cultivate these traits in all of your employees e.g. by making your expectations clear and by coaching and mentoring. Your “A” players are those who demonstrate these key characteristics most consistently and who deliver superior results.

Characteristics and behaviours that may help you identify top talent

When reflecting on what characteristics and behaviour may help you identify top talent, the following examples may help. Consider whether your employee demonstrates the attributes you need. Some common examples include:

  • Positive energy/can do attitude
  • An entrepreneurial spirit
  • Innovation or creativity
  • A commitment to your culture and mission
  • Role models organisational values and behaviours consistently
  • Effective communication skills
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • A customer focus, both internally and externally
  • Ability to build strong workplace relationships
  • Recognised by others as having talent
  • Leadership
  • Potential for growth
  • Job expertise and skills
  • Commitment to deliver
  • A strong work ethic
  • Decision-making and problem solving skills

Develop a talent management strategy

Measure employees’ performance based on your identified “top talent” characteristics or behaviours

Once you have identified the key characteristics or behaviours are that will help your organisation to achieve its goals and build the culture you want in the future, measure employees against these expectations.

Develop a plan on how to manage your top employees

Attracting and retaining your best and brightest means you need to actively identify and develop talent among employees. This will require a commitment from your Executive Team—it is therefore critical that the definition of these characteristics and behaviours begin with them.

Tips:  Effective talent identification and management

  • Clearly communicate the talent required
  • Define how your organisation will measure potential in employees
  • Clarify the link between current and potential performance
  • Monitor and develop the individuals you identify as “key” or “high-potential”

No talent management process is likely to succeed unless the organisation recognises the value of talent identification and development, and makes it a part of every manager’s job. This ensures that the plan and approach is widely understood and aligned with the organisation at all levels of decision-making processes.

Implementing talent management

To create an aligned talent management process, review your human-resources strategy or develop one if you don’t have one!  The following will help you ensure that talent management is prioritised:

Define employee competencies

Competencies are the integrated knowledge, skills, knowledge and attributes that employees need to perform a job effectively. To help identify talent, competency programs need careful definition with a focus on the future.

Recruit the right people

The selection of the right people is a vital step in maintaining a high-quality talent pool. The starting point is to have a good understanding of any gaps in strategic skills.

Implement 360° feedback and performance-appraisal process

As part of your performance appraisal process, using feedback that draws from multiple sources can yield useful information to establish a benchmark in terms of behaviours and skills.

Support employees with talent development programs

Development programs need to be carefully targeted and tracked to ensure alignment between your “A” players and your organisations goals. Development may include:

  • Formal training
  • Conferences
  • Opportunities to network and/or benchmark
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Relief roles
  • Special projects
  • Reading

Talent development is especially important for “A” players, as strong performers expect to be given new opportunities to learn. If they don’t receive this kind of support, they may look for an employer who offers it.