Prediction: 10 Talent Management Trends in 2016

November 9, 20158:42 am1083 views

To create a sustainable organisation, every company relies on talent management. Excellent talent management enables a high-performance company that meets its strategic and operational objectives.

As a set of integrated organisational HR processes designed to attract, develop, motivate, and retain productive plus engaged employees, talent management is a crucial element that HR professionals should concern.

Since we are at the end of year, what are talent management trends in 2016? Written in LinkedIn Pulse, Tom Haak as the founder and director of the HR Trend Institute explains ten trends in talent management for the upcoming year.

1. Broader definition of talent

Many organisations have very specific definitions of talent. Example: “A high potential has a minimum of four years work experience, of which at least two in our organisation, with the potential to grow to general management positions, or specific specialised positions in research and development, with at least level A2”.

The notion of more diverse talent groups is slowly entering organisations. The wishes and expectations of talent differ, and also change over time.

  • Some people are looking for a career in one organisation;
  • Some people are looking for a couple of years experience, and their plan is to move on afterwards (although they might not express this when you interview them);
  • Some people are not looking forward to be employed by a big employer, but they like to be involved in challenging complex projects;

Organisations that define talent too narrow might miss opportunities to connect talent to their organisation.

2. More customised programs

Connected to number 1, you can see a move to more customised programs. The question is, how can you tailor what you want to offer to the talent with individual needs in the market? For some an attractive well-planned trainee program might be a very good solution. For others, the opportunity to work in Asia for a couple of years. A highly talented technical student might have other needs. Less standardisation, more customisation will be the credo.  

3. Looking for general profiles

Scientific knowledge is slowly entering the HR arena. Gut feel is no longer trusted, and organisations are looking for people who have traits that have a proven correlation to success in organisations. Intelligence is certainly one element to be looking for. Learning agility another.

4. From secret to transparent

This is often a delicate issue. Do we spoil people if we let them know they are considered high potential? Do we disengage the people who are not part of the talent pool? The overall trend seems to be to more transparency, whether organisations like it or not.

It certainly helps to have a broader definition of talent (see 1). It also helps to be clearer about expectations and commitment. If you have a pool with talent for future general management positions, being part of this pool comes with obligations, like high performance and international mobility. Sometimes assumptions are not tested, as the conversations with the talent in the pool are too limited and not explicit enough.

See: SumTotal’s Talent Expansion platform Simplifies Talent Management

5. From general to very specific skill training

We all know the high potential and general management programs, where you have to learn everything you will ever need to know or need to master in one or two weeks. International collaboration. Personal effectiveness. The strategy of the company. Intercultural differences. Managing people in turbulent times. Engaging people, and so on.

The (slow) trend is in the direction to more specific skill training, as close as possible to the real work of people. In a certain way going back to old-school training. Define very clearly what skill people have to learn to be successful, and then train, observe, feedback, train, observe, feedback and so on until the skill becomes an acquired skill.

6. The increasing importance of HR analytics

Maybe this trend should be on position number one. 2015 has been described as the breakthrough year for HR analytics and more specifically talent analytics. Current technology and the increased possibilities of big data analysis are important drivers for more objective and scientific research and fact finding in the talent arena. Intuition and gut-feel can now be tested against the facts.

7. From annual to regular maybe even real time feedback

It seems that performance management is changing. Organisations are looking for possibilities to give more regular and more objective feedback to people.

Harvard Business Review recently published a great article on how Deloitte is changing their global performance management process. Very practical and inspirational for other organisations. Elsewhere you see experiments with more frequent feedback, using tools as provided for example by Impraise.

People who are very good always want to become better. Most performance management systems today provide helpful feedback for people who are average or below average, but the feedback for top talent is often not so helpful. If you are very good you need more granular feedback than just a subjective rating on a 5-point scale.

8. Gamification everywhere

Gamification is entering the talent management world. In selection where simple games can be used to test cognitive and social capabilities. In recruitment where candidates are able to experience what life is like in an organisation by participating in a simulation. In performance management by introducing leaderboards, points and badges related to specific desired behaviour. In training, where games and simulations are often far more effective than traditional classroom training.

9. Pay top for the best

The key message is performance of people does not follow a normal distribution, but a power distribution. When you can measure performance, the best performers can perform 2x, 5x, 10x and sometimes even more than 10X better than average performers. This has great implications for HR.

10. From 1:1 succession management to broad talent pools

Especially in fast moving and fast changing organisations 1:1 succession management does not make a lot of sense. HR spends a lot of time making the lists of potential successors for key positions, but when the time comes a position needs to be filled, the organisation has changed, the information is outdated and the requirements for the positions have changed as well.

Instead of the lists, it makes sense to have a good view on the different talent pools, inside- and outside the organisation. More importantly: to have fast processes to be able to mobilise talent quickly when you need it, even if it is not in your database.


Ten trends in talent management. Some of them are maybe more wishful thinking Not all trends will be visible or applicable everywhere. Some organisations are trying to create or nurture counter trends. Soon, we will see.

See also: Beyond Traditional HR: Integrated Talent Management in Focus

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