In recent times, “talent” has become one of the most frequently mentioned terms when we talk about skills. We hear it in a wide range of environments: in an executive context, such as in companies, and in much lighter situations, as “talent” is now used in the names of dozens of television programmes. But what does this ideal that everyone is searching for actually mean?

When we talk about talent, we are referring to somebody’s special ability or gift for learning or carrying out a particular task. So, although we often use the word “skill” to refer to talent, these two words, while closely related, do not mean the same thing. Whereas “talent” is not associated with a previous experience, a “skill” may be acquired or perfected through learning and practice.

As an example, we could find ourselves in a situation in which twin brothers with very similar personality traits, who have received the same education and have carried out the same extracurricular activities, perform differently. Perhaps one of them has more analytical talent and is better at resolving maths problems while the other speaks more eloquently. However, with practice, either could learn to play a musical instrument such as a piano well. 

How do companies manage human talent?

Talent programmes, recruitment, retention, etc. These concepts generally form part of strategic plans in organisations, and they are usually managed primarily by the Human Resources department and other areas. This is because people are the companies’ most important asset, since the work they do is key for achieving success.

That is why talent is a focus of attention and efforts to nurture it should be managed day by day, i.e. the right way and unceasingly. Here is a summary of the aspects comprising this management process:

  • Human resources planning: the Human Resources department, like all other areas, must prepare a strategy to be implemented within the organisation. This strategy should take into account the individual needs of each employee, and put forward ways to encourage personal development.
  • Attracting talent: more and more organisations are asking the same question: how can we attract talent? Although there is no single correct answer, “employer branding” is a concept that comes to the fore. It refers to the image that the brand projects towards its employees and potential candidates. It is built on the company’s philosophy and values: the more transparent, empathetic and responsible the company is, the more attractive it will appear to be. However, organisations need to demonstrate their way of being, by innovating in projects aimed at boosting each individual’s professional career and the benefits for the respective teams.
  • Joining: the candidates chosen for the positions become part of the organisation and begin carrying out the tasks for which they were hired. It is important for new recruits to be accompanied in the initial stages. An example of this is onboarding, in which presentations and information are provided, to help integrate the new hires. This has a direct impact on the motivation and productivity of the teams, and will increase their sense of belonging.
  • Assessment: it is also increasingly common for organisations to use virtual tools for employees to set their objectives, with reference to both individual and collective performance (in relation to the immediate team and other people with whom employees interact). These goals are usually discussed with the supervisors, who monitor them and then share any aspects that need improving or performing in the same way.
  • Development plans: projects focused on employee development and career progression.
  • Leadership development: this aspect is closely linked to the previous one. However, it focuses more on encouraging the development of people’s leadership skills. It is important to know that there are different types of leader and not all are right for a particular organisation. Therefore, the needs and goals in each case need to be analysed.
  • Recognition programmes: these are key for achieving high personal and collective motivation, which has a direct impact on employee performance.
  • Skills: a key aspect of talent management are the competences that each employee possesses. When staff receive training on cross-cutting skills, not only do they become better qualified for their current job positions but they also gain knowledge that will open up new avenues for them to explore. An important component in this regard are the soft skills, which enable employees to manage their emotions better and to resolve problems in various situations. Some of the more popular soft skills are adaptability to change and critical thinking.
  • Retention: this refers to the efforts made by organisations to hold on to employees. It is achieved through ensuring that, on a day-to-day basis, there is an open culture, in which a positive work atmosphere is created, and that there are equal opportunities and diversity. However, we should not consider certain levels of staff turnover to be negative, since, for some profiles (particularly more digital ones), this is an intrinsic effect. 

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