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4 stages of the talent management lifecycle

What is the Talent Management Life Cycle?

The talent management life cycle refers to the overarching and exhaustive relationship between the talent or future employee and the organization. The talent management life cycle begins with recruitment or finding the right person for a role, up until that individual exits the organization or retires, and everything in between. 

The talent management life cycle has become more robust as organizations have developed increasingly strategic means of engaging, promoting, training, and retaining their talent long-term which means it is vital to understand the different stages, what they mean for your organization, and the considerations of the employee within the life cycle stage as well. 

Stage 1: Recruiting and selecting the right talent for your organization

Most of us think about recruitment as the tried-and-true method of creating a job description, posting the vacancy, and beginning the interviewing process, but in reality, it’s so much more than that. True talent recruiting starts with understanding the current status of the organization, the skills that are needed today, and the skills that are needed in the future. 

Generally, hiring outside of an organization means that there’s some sort of skills or talent gap that needs to be filled, and leaders within the organization are looking outside to help recruit and solve the problem. Of course, the back end of that means understanding the skills that are currently within the organization, and making sure there aren’t suitable candidates currently in the workplace, particularly those that may be ready for a new challenge or change. Modern organizations solve this issue by having a deep and at-a-glance ability to see the skills and knowledge within the organization, where those skills are housed, and thinking strategically about how roles may be shifted or current talent may be approached regarding their interests and long-term career goals. 

Undoubtedly, this requires organization and forethought, and modern organizations are leaning on workforce intelligence solutions and vendors to help make heads or tails of the backgrounds and skills of their current employee population. One way to do this is to use artificial intelligence to scan resumes, CV’s, education since time of hire, and also looking outside the organization at how other leading organizations are laterally and cross-functionally utilizing similar talent. 

On top of recruitment (which may occur internally, externally, or both), the first stage of the talent management life cycle also relies on how the organization is appealing to talent, the benefits being offered, as well as growth opportunities such as education and career exploration. Additionally, in order to keep and recruit today’s talent, organizations need to make apparent their forward-thinking principles, such as diversity, inclusion, and commitment to equity. One way some organizations are doing this is by promoting their blind hiring process that helps to reduce bias within the workplace. 

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Stage 2: Training, Orienting, and Strategically Onboarding Talent

In the traditional model, once a candidate is selected, they are onboarded. This is the moment they get to know the organization, the values of the people and leadership team that work there, and begin to understand their role in the greater holistic effort. Today, this might certainly mean onboarding new talent, but Stage 2 can also refer to re-orienting existing talent that is changing their job role and getting tenured employees up to date (since there is likely a lot that has changed since their onboarding). 

Modern organizations are thinking broadly about training, orientation, and strategic onboarding. Training does not need to only occur when an employee first begins, but rather can be consistent, throughout, and updated over time, creating a culture of flexibility, learning, and change that modern talent craves. 

In fact, today’s most talented workers know that their skills are needed everywhere, and have open-minded thoughts about what their career might look like in five, ten or fifteen years in that they are open to career changes. Smart organizations are taking advantage of this, and considering how to keep their most talented people within the organization by helping them transition internally to new roles. It’s a win-win because the cost of turnover and workplace disengagement are paramount concerns for leading organizations. 

Stage 3: Continuing to Develop and Increase Employee Performance

Depending on the job, some roles may take months or even years to perfect, or reach a stage where individuals feel they know the in’s and out’s. That being said, a high level of competence is bound to be reached by talented and qualified employees, and once that occurs, the potential for stagnancy, boredom, and disengagement increases. 

Stage 3, where current employees are continuously developed is one of the most overlooked stages of the talent management life cycle, because it can appear uneventful and be easy to see this stage as “business as usual.” This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes leadership and people management can make because it opens the opportunity for their most talented people to get bored, consider a new career challenge, and, if those things are not presented within the organization, look elsewhere for their next step. 

Stage 3 is about helping to keep your people at the edge of their comfort zone, where they can rely on their competency in many areas, but also are pushed to grow and explore in others. This might mean learning opportunities, stretch goals, or playing a larger role in cross-functional teams. Then, instead of having the job role become perfunctory and unexciting, your tenured employees are able to sink their teeth into a new challenge that helps color their experience with a new lens. 

For example, some organizations empower more experienced employees by allowing them to mentor junior staff or play an advisor role. In teaching and helping others, they are reminded why they do what they do and feel they can make a difference. For other organizations, this development might mean new training, certifications, or attending offsite career development workshops and webinars. 

Stage 4: Retain and Create Long-Term Growth

The biggest benefit to training and engaging your people, in addition to being able to achieve together as an organization, is the improvement to culture. Engaged employees are happier, more energetic, helpful, and experience higher job satisfaction as well as less turnover intention. 

Stage 4 of the talent management life cycle is about taking the employee population that leadership worked so hard to train and engage, and creating a long-term plan to retain that talent and work as a unified team towards long-term growth. This means actually allowing your people to utilize the new training and education they may have attained, allowing talented employees to move cross-functionally throughout the organization, asking questions about interests in career growth and new challenges (and even career changes), and thinking about how the organization can capitalize on the new skills and knowledge within. 

Additionally, leadership and people management need to think strategically about how to retain talent in Stage 4, especially since your current workforce is part of future plans and growth. This may be time to revisit your organization’s benefit offerings and make sure they are on par with competitors. This is also the time to think about leadership succession, and make sure that those in line to lead are being trained, encouraged, and know that these opportunities exist for them. Third, this is the time to position the organization as modern and forward-thinking by making sure that diversity and equity efforts are top of mind and a visible part of the employer brand. 

These stages, taken together, create a well-rounded talent management life cycle that speaks to your people at each level and stage of employment and gives your organization the best chance to thrive. However, that’s not saying that these stages are easy or do not require consistent effort. Along the way, create diverse teams of human resources, business development, and tech to find ways to utilize software and digital solutions to help streamline this process for yourself and for employees.

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