Ashridge Business School Talent Management
Talent Management has become ubiquitous, but many organisations do not understand the psychology of their most talented employees. Research highlights that most TM strategies and practices are built on toxic assumptions and consequently have shaky foundations. Karen Ward and Dr. Mary Jacobsen explore some of these assumptions, and advise that Talent Management needs to be done with employees, not to them.
Talent Management has become ubiquitous, yet evidence suggests organisations still struggle to attract and retain the employees they need to thrive in the complexities of today’s world (IBM Global CEO Survey, 2010; PWC Global CEO Survey 2011; Economist Intelligence Unit, 2011; Corporate Leadership Council, 2010). In addition to this evidence that organisations are not getting the results they seek, Talent Psychology Consulting Ltd action research conducted since 2006 with global high potentials highlights that existing TM approaches are out of sync with what high potential employees are looking for from their employers too. This article draws on over a decade of action research with global talent that bridges the fields of management and organisation development; talent management and the study of high ability individuals1.
Ashridge has partnered with Dr Mary Jacobsen to develop practical implications from the theoretical underpinnings of Talent Psychology. Talent Psychology starts from the perspective that talent is something possessed by individuals, rather than an inert commodity. Research published in 20072,3 highlighted six organisational approaches to Talent Management, but failed to identify an
approach that met the needs of the talented employees themselves. This article explores why from a Talent Psychology standpoint, effective talent management needs to be a relationship between people, not an abstract set of organisational processes. Let’s start at the heart of the matter – most organisations simply do not understand the psychology of their most talented employees4. The TPC action research highlights that for the majority of talented employees most TM strategies, processes and practices are built on toxic assumptions and consequently have shaky foundations. If you do not understand what motivates your talented employees, how can you presume to design solutions that meet their needs?