Identifying an Agency’s Critical Talent — Key to Talent Management Success

Organizations seem to be understanding that identifying their critical talent is important to achieving their goals. However, there is often still a lack of organizational focus on implementing processes for true talent identification.

Part of the problem rests in the fact that many businesses and government agencies are not sure about how to go about identifying critical talent – and that includes being able to identify what talent is actually critical. Nearly two thirds of respondents in a recent Mercer survey (Mercer 2014 Critical Talent Practices Survey) indicated that managing critical talent is vital to the execution of their organizational and talent strategies; however, only 30 percent rated their critical talent programs as being extremely effective.

With the global economic outlook improving, more organizations, including government agencies, are recognizing that talent acquisition and talent retention are very important to their organizational success. But talent shortages remain and adequate talent pipelines and succession processes are often not in place. The Mercer study found that organizations do believe their talent management programs are strategically important, yet many of these same organizations don’t have adequate talent management programs in place that really help the organization as much as possible. For example:

  • Only 49 percent notify critical talent of their status
  • Only 34 per cent track critical talent
  • About a third don’t forecast critical talent needs.

Part of the solution to this problem is for senior staff to be in sync with what talent is actually critical. More needs to be done at identifying the real skills and talent that are critical, and not merely leaving it to organizational titles, which is done too often. Broad definitions such as “Engineering” or “Operations,” coupled with management levels such as “deputy director” or “director” will often lead to gaps in what skill sets are truly needed, which are in place and which are on the bench or in the pipeline.

Today’s sophisticated and automated talent management systems can help. But even with them, agencies need to dig into what their true talent needs are and what talent have. Once they do this, they will then be in a position to leverage the power of these systems to much more quickly identify their critical talent and take the necessary steps to retain that talent. Beyond that, they can then more easily identify critical talent gaps and take the imperative actions to fill the gaps. All these steps will help improve an organization’s talent management and help it achieve its goals.

How do you identify critical talent in your agency?

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