What is a talent review and how
can you use it to good effect?

Stefan Op de Woerd

Stefan Op de Woerd

A talent review is an opportunity for you (and the rest of the management team) to build a picture of how much your employees contribute to the success of the organisation.
This is done by rating them on the basis of two or three measures, such as Performance, Potential, Employability or Flight Risk. A talent review gives you a great snapshot of the performance of your employees and how much this matches up to what you think they have to offer.

Similar to a review of the fleet in the Navy, the talent review makes a great launch point from which to discuss each employee’s progress with HR or other managers in a transparent and productive way.

Talent review

What are you aiming to achieve in a talent review?

The central question in any talent review is: is every employee where they ought to be in the organisation? So, it’s got nothing to do with working out whether employees are doing what they are supposed to be doing. The question is whether they are in the best place to make the maximum contribution to the organisation. Depending on the results, you can then look as an organisation at how you can support employees to contribute more, both in the short and long term. This can then prompt a conversation about someone’s chances of promotion, potential development programmes or the need for a capability procedure.

The aims of a talent review at a glance

  • Determining whether an employee is in the right place
  • Determining whether an employee should be considered for promotion
  • Vertical: e.g. from a junior to mid-level role
  • Horizontal: specialisation in current role
  • Determining whether someone could use an extra challenge and what precise form that challenge should take
  • Identifying where an employee is not making an adequate contribution in their current role and possible solutions for this
  • Determining which employees need a salary adjustment (in light of their contribution to the organisation)
  • Determining whether an employee should be considered for an MD or talent programme

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What to AVOID in a talent review

One pitfall when discussing a talent review is getting into endless discussions about which box someone belongs in. In fact, the most interesting employees are those about whom there are clearly differing opinions. So, use the talent review to identify the most divergent opinions and use this to get a great conversation started at MT level. By the way, this is a conversation about employees and not with employees. Although both are much needed, the talent review is specifically about facilitating productive conversations about employees. This can then provide the ideal basis to prompt conversations in 1-to-1s with employees.

Another pitfall to using talent reviews can be exemplified by Jack Welsh and his approach. You may recall Welsh was CEO of General Electric in the 90s, and back then was a big proponent of the talent review. His take on it, however, was more in the style of the hard-nosed American business executive. Welsh would use the talent review to work out the best 10% of his employees, whom he rewarded with promotion, while the worst 10% in the company would be summarily ejected from the company. This is indeed one way of using the talent review it’s quite true, but it has no regard for the fact that everyone is good at something.

A good talent review would look at why this 10% is not performing as expected, what is needed to improve their performance and whether there might be another role that would suit them better.

What do you do with the results of a talent review?

Talent reviews are a popular tool in many organisations, however, once the review is over, the results often get filed away and never see the light of day again. That’s a real shame as the talent review simply becomes an end in itself, while it is intended as a means to… What, actually?

Ultimately, a talent review – like other aspects of the performance management cycle – is a means of ensuring that employees can give of their best in furthering the success of the organisation. This can only happen if the person feels comfortable where they are in the organisation. A good talent survey can be a mine of information, providing a basis (using the 9-grid) to identify the discussion points you want to pursue in 1-to-1s with your employees. The aim being to maximise the contribution of each employee to the success of the organisation.

Do you want to drive great 1:1s in your organization?

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Reviewing your talent with Dialog

One way to do a talent review might be to create an Excel file: You decide which aspects you want to evaluate your employees on and go ahead and fill it in. That way, you can tick off ‘complete talent review’ on your to-do list in one easy move… and then safely shelve it. The best way to get the most out of your talent review is with the support of the right technology.

The process of producing a talent review is fully supported in Dialog. As the manager you will get an e-mail reminder well in advance telling you it is time to complete the talent review. Dialog provides you with a useful overview of all the employees for whom you need to complete a talent review. You rate everyone based on the measures that you have previously agreed in the organisation. There is plenty of space to add an explanation for the scores you have given. When completing the talent review, you can also see the personal performance and development goals the employee has set and the feedback he or she has received.

After completing the talent review, you will get a clear visualisation showing the talent in your team. Employees and other managers cannot see the scores you have given or the results of this process.

Read on..

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