A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Winning Talent Management Strategy


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

By having a strong talent management strategy you’ll be better-positioned to succeed. So what key steps you should take to create one?

Article 5 Minutes
A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Winning Talent Management Strategy

To succeed as a business, one of the most beneficial steps you can take is to create a high-quality talent management strategy. This will help you gain maximum value from the most important asset at your disposal: your people.

According to research by McKinsey, practically all organizations (99%) that report very effective talent management also say they outperform their competitors, compared with 56% of those that have room for improvement in their talent management.

Furthermore, the findings demonstrate this is an area where many businesses are falling short, with only 5% of respondents saying their company's talent management strategy has been very effective at boosting overall performance.

If you're looking to take some big strides forward on this front, a systematic, step-by-step approach will be the best way to gain results.

1. Talent acquisition and onboarding

Many businesses today are struggling to find the talent they need in an increasingly competitive labor market. The shortage of skilled workers in the US has been described as "unprecedented", with government data for January 2019 showing there were 7.6 million unfilled jobs but only 6.5 million people looking for work.

Therefore, it's vital that actions to optimize your acquisition and onboarding of high-quality candidates are put at the heart of your talent management strategy. Without clear plans to help you succeed in recruitment and onboarding, much of the time and resources you invest in these activities will go to waste.

Research shows that one in three workers (33%) quit their jobs within 90 days of joining. There are steps you can take to improve your onboarding and combat this problem, such as:

  • Making the most of technology to provide resources such as welcome videos, job aids and an online database of useful information and materials
  • Pairing new hires up with a 'buddy' to help them integrate into the workforce
  • Taking the opportunity to collect feedback from new recruits, who can look at your working methods and processes with fresh eyes

Crucially, people who have recently joined should be presented with a clear, realistic picture of their role and what it entails. This can help to address the issue of jobs not living up to candidates' initial expectations - something that has caused 60% of employees to leave a job in the past.

2. Employee engagement

Bringing an employee onboard and integrating them into the workforce is just one part of talent management. Another essential component of the process is employee engagement - something you have to get right if you want your most valuable and productive members of staff to stay with you for the long haul.

Research from ADP suggests there are big engagement benefits to be gained from having frequent one-on-one conversations with team members about near-term work priorities. Based on the company's research, this is the single most effective step any business can take to drive engagement.

It's hard to believe that one simple practice can have such a dramatic impact, but the results are consistent from healthcare to technology to financial services to education organizations. Team leaders are the cornerstone to engagement throughout organizations.


As well as introducing processes designed to strengthen engagement, you need to measure the impact of your efforts. That's likely to involve:

  • Taking a team-by-team approach, with leaders collecting feedback from their team members
  • Finding the right frequency of measurement, considering that engagement levels are likely to change regularly
  • Focusing on the most valuable and relevant data to measure
  • Acting on what you learn

3. Retention

A high rate of staff turnover is a major problem for any organization, for many reasons. As well as hampering the company's efforts to maintain operations and meet customer expectations, staff departures can unsettle the rest of the workforce and create stress for other employees.

There’s also the financial impact to consider. The cost of having to regularly replace departing workers can seriously hinder the organization and limit your potential for growth.

You can improve retention by engaging with all members of the workforce - from new hires to long-serving employees to those on their way out - to find out:

  • The most common reasons for people to leave
  • Why loyal workers have stayed with you
  • What encouraged new recruits to join you

What you learn from this process will give you a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses as an employer.

You could also find that investing in talent development makes a big difference to retention, since employees who feel that they’re learning new things and moving their career forward with you are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Some of the world's biggest and most successful companies have seen the benefits of innovative talent development strategies.

  • Amazon's Career Choice program offers to pay up to 95% of tuition fees for employees pursuing qualifications in an area of high skill demand, as long as they’ve been with the company for more than three years
  • IBM utilizes AI to tailor employee development to individual members of its workforce
  • Pixar urges its employees to "start things that might fail" and to embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn

Targeted policies and processes to support talent development show your employees that you're invested in their professional growth, which will strengthen their commitment to the business and reduce the risk of them leaving.

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