Talent management for HR/OD/L&D professionals

What is talent management?

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, ‘talent management seeks to attract, identify, develop, engage, retain and deploy individuals who are considered particularly valuable to an organisation. It should align with business goals and strategic objectives. By managing talent strategically, organisations can build a high-performance workplace, encourage a “learning” organisation, add value to their employer brand, and improve diversity management’.


In other words, talent management is about making sure we have the people with the right values in the right roles, and that they have access to the right opportunities, exposure, stretch and development to reach their potential – whether this is in their current role or for a future role.


The NFCC has chosen to describe the whole workforce as talent. We all have talents, whether someone is an expert on breathing apparatus wear or the best at listening when a colleague has had a tough day.


How do we manage talent?

A talent conversation, such as an appraisal, not only evaluates performance (what is done) and behaviour (how it’s done) but also introduces thinking about an employee’s readiness (ability, engagement, aspiration) for progression/promotion. A talent conversation could also use a talent grid or tool to benchmark where someone sits on a certain scale at a given point in time.


The key to maximising an individual’s potential is the ability to have open and constructive conversations around an employee’s potential, including where they are now, where they want to be and how they can be supported to get there.


Talent conversations can be standalone or complement appraisal discussions; they could also be one-to-ones or ongoing career discussions throughout the year. These kinds of conversations can also be used to capture an organisational picture of talent (talent bench review) and to identify who will be nominated for promotion pools or leadership development programmes, and can inform succession planning.


What are the benefits of talent management?

Talent management will enable your fire and rescue service to attract, develop, engage and retain top talent, improving colleagues’ experience and well-being. It is likely to increase productivity, minimise attrition and enable better succession planning.


To achieve our maximum potential, we all need to feel that we are listened to, understood and valued in our roles. It helps to understand your strengths, opportunities for development and other opportunities available to you.


You can help by developing and executing performance goals that are aligned with organisational objectives, and by participating in performance and development plans and discussions. This assists both individuals and the organisation.


Talent management will enable your fire and rescue service to identify and develop individuals so they are ready to fill future vacancies, ensuring people moving into roles have a level of competence that maintains performance.


What else you may need to consider

A typical talent management tool evaluates performance and potential to identify and map the organisation’s talent. This relies on a robust performance management/appraisal process to guide conversations about performance (what is done) and behaviour (how it’s done) and an employee’s readiness for progression.


Talent management will also be more successful if your fire and rescue service has in place a range of interventions, ideally linked to succession planning, that support the development of talented individuals.