The emergence of the “talent” process in organizational settings has enabled a perceptual 180-degree shift from the more generic labels of “employee,” “associate,” “laborer” or “applicant.” When the demand for employees went global and markets were reshaped by technology, information and competition, the lens through which applicants were seen as potential employees broadened in order to accommodate the skill requirement shifts that started to reshape 21st-century global business competition.

The individuals who emerged from the technology, information and competition wheelhouse had to be more than just the embodiment of their education, skill set and work experiences. Global demand dictated an awakening in which organizations recruit “talent” (the applied use of gifts or grit) based on someone’s immediate ability to be an asset in sustaining an organization’s competitive edge.

Global expansion means that the internal demand for talent occurs in competition within and across industries. For human resources (HR) practitioners, this demand means rethinking criteria for recruiting talent. For learning and development (L&D) practitioners, it means reformulating the process for how employees learn. For hiring managers, it means repackaging the subjective criteria often used in selection decisions.

The transformation to a talent mindset is a detonation at the base of the silos that frequently kept HR, L&D, and organizational development functions from interacting as a cohesive unit. The talent approach requires a seamless connection in which recruiting is not just an HR task but a talent acquisition process in which the collaboration of these functions supports point-of-entry decisions that further the organization’s mission.

Given the accelerated patterns of growth and decline that permeate the organizational landscape, the traditional hire and turnover numbers that were often equated with dispensable and replaceable employees are intolerable metrics for an organization that seeks to elevate its competitive ability against a backdrop of talented applicants who have many options of where to go for the full expression of their talent. What has evolved is a talent management process in which an individual’s full picture becomes the template with which the organization positions itself to engage and embrace talent on an authentic platform of expression, application and ongoing learning that does more than just allow that person to remain employed.

Talent management is uniquely positioned to combine the efforts of human resources, learning and development, and organizational development in a transformative process that maximizes the full spectrum of organizational talent.

Talent Acquisition

The well-known pipeline of recruitment activities, over time, gave a certain level of comfort, stability and predictability to a process in which familiarity with locations and relationships bred a welcomed set of applicants whom the organization measured against a standard set of outcomes. The activities-based process provided a consistent influx of candidates who engaged around the organization’s established norms.

This process is effective when there is an abundance of individuals who are both available for recruiting and eager to have a specific organizational experience. However, at a time when the demand for talent arguably outweighs the available supply, talent acquisition requires more than the standard set of recruiting activities.

Expanding the lens opens the acquisition process to explore areas that, previously, were not always considered. After all, a common thread that stretches across all of the “American Idol” spinoffs is that talent is not unique to one person. Just imagine the talent acquisition possibilities!

Talent Development

In much the same way that a music coach trains, nurtures and guides a gifted singer into prominence, in talent development, the leader is responsible for establishing the platform for how the organization will guide the individual talents of each team member. The activities of HR, L&D, and organizational development should support the process of creating a manager/employee relationship that nurtures knowledge, skills and learning.

Talent assessment profiles, learning plans, performance measures and goal achievement are all essential elements of the talent development process. Organizations should offer them as part of a cyclical process that fine-tunes the skills of both the individual and the team leader. Development occurs across a period of time and a set of activities that include mileposts for measuring how well the organizations is leveraging its talent. No longer a “hit and miss” activity driven by the personal motivation of the team leader, talent development is an organizational activity that’s not limited by directives but facilitated by direction.

Talent Progression

We are working in a time when the outdated Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest approach to “who moves on” is challenged by the employee’s option of playing in another jungle. As a result, talent progression requires the interaction of effective skill training, project visibility and continuous learning. In a “talent on display” environment, progression is not just about grooming employees for movement within a hierarchy but about positioning them for a broader venue of opportunities within the talent management model.

Consistent high performance is the result of collaborative efforts by human resources, learning and development, and organizational development to upskill hiring managers and reorient their thought process to one in which they carry out all of their responsibilities under the umbrella of a talent management model that acquires, develops and progresses talent in an ongoing process of guided applied learning.