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Organizing Talent

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Talent development plays a key role and is an important component of the overall talent management process. It is well established that significant advantages are achieved from an internal development approach and that the organization has a necessity to acquire and develop the industry specific as well as the organizational specific knowledge and skills in order to be competitive. Hence, the organization is required to make significant investments in talent development activities, so that talented employees possess the competencies to successfully implement the business strategy of the organization. Talent development activities are typically undertaken by the organization to ensure that there are zero talent outages, to ensure planned succession rather than replacement, and to enhance the organization?s reputation as a talent magnet.

For understanding the scope of talent development, there are questions which need to be asked are (i) what is talent for the purposes of development, (ii) does talent development focus on technical or generic competencies or both, (iii) what are the learning needs that are the primary focus of talent development, organizational or individual or some combination (iv) does talent development occur in an accelerated or normal way, and (v) what are the pathways, programmes and processes that contribute the architecture of talent development. Answers to these questions help to bring some coherence to the scope of the concept. Talent is conceptualized as a code for the most effective leaders and managers at all levels, who can help the organization fulfill its aspirations and drive its performance. Managerial talent is some combination of a sharp strategic mind, leadership ability, emotional maturity, and communications skills. It is the ability to attract and inspire other talented people, entrepreneurial instincts, fundamental skills, and the ability to deliver results.

High potential talent is an invaluable resource, and smart organizations find ways to recognize that talent early. However, it is usually tough to predict talent in young leaders. Good talent development requires that the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for leadership success be clearly defined. Talent development is to focus on the development of technical or generic competencies or both. The overriding factors leading to effective performance include technical credibility and the ability to use systems and processes for meeting of the performance standards. In the initial stages of the front line managers,often place more focus on technical competencies while giving generic competencies less credence. As a consequence, they frequently fall short on the performance expectations required of the role. Training is one of the best traditional talent development processes which is extremely effective at imparting technical competencies. They can in many cases be developed in isolation from the workplace.

However, it is increasingly emphasized that high potential talent must be proficient in working in diverse work environments, and are inextricably linked to features or characteristic of the environment. As a consequence, there is an increased focus on generic competencies. The shift to generic competencies is something that has occurred in the past 20-25 years. Generic competencies emphasize a range of qualities and capabilities which are important in the workplace viz: communication skills, problem solving and analytical skills, teamwork competencies and skills to identify access and manage knowledge. Generic competencies also include personal attributes such as imagination, creativity and intellectual rigor and personal values such as persistence, integrity and tolerance.

Generic competencies are considered to be important for potential and career advancement of the employees . However, it is clear that such generic competencies are also highly environmental in nature. Environment normally consists of task, social and physical dimensions. Task dimensions emphasize informational and structural features of the role, ambiguity, uncertainty levels of accountability and autonomy. Social dimensions focus on aspects of the role that are interpersonal in nature such as interpersonal conflict, the degree of interdependence and density of human interaction. Physical dimensions focus on issues such as the working conditions like degree of risk, hazard, noise etc., which influences work performance and behavior.

Generic competencies are different from technical competencies and provide more significant development challenges. They have a tendency to be holistic, to overlap, and interweave, and they are intrinsically related to the kind of person that one is. They are clearly related to issues such as self-confidence and self-esteem of the learner. It is therefore clear that the new workplace places emphasis on skills that go beyond the technical and include a full spectrum of soft skills. Talented employees are expected to display these generic competencies in combinations that meet the demands of a unique and continually changing work environment. It suggests that on-going talent development processes need to be flexible, adaptable, and capable of scalability and in tune with the evolving environment. As a consequence, talent development must increasingly be work-based in order to develop capabilities to cope with the temporality or dynamism of work environment.

Management which believes in an integrated talent management approach usually speeds up the development of talent in order to respond to current and anticipated business pressures. Whereas management which believes in a traditional approach, focus on blending classroom development, e-learning and on-the-job development to enhance the competencies of talent to perform effectively and enhance the potential of the employees. In case of the blended approach there are four components of formal development namely individual skill development, socializing development interventions, action and strategic learning initiatives. However, traditional talent development approaches are frequently passive rather than active, they tend to be slow, they emphasize natural experiential learning, and the blend of development strategies needs to be carefully managed to engage the employee in a genuine experiential development process.

Accelerated talent development methods focus on ensuring that the employee is competent to perform, and there is a strong emphasis on accelerating the learning curve. Such methods are based on a highly motivated employee, ongoing intensive training, extensive use of simulation tools, structured projects and experiences to drive learning and self-managed development processes. Critical objectives that drive accelerated development include the enhancement of knowledge and skills. It develops the employees sufficiently to assume higher or broader roles.

It is necessary to understand the processes which support the talent development. Consistent with the dynamic capabilities viewpoint, it is important to consider how those responsible for managing talent development manage the architecture. In particular, it focuses on issues of stakeholder engagement, communication activities and decisions concerning the target groups for talent development activities and the extent of standardization of talent development processes and systems across the organization. Some organizations make use of systematic, formal talent review processes to focus on assessing future development potential. These processes usually focus on the identification of high potentials and their unique development needs. These processes are complex and they aim is to strategically align the potential employees with critical organizational capabilities. However, such processes may lead to too much of a focus on the current rather than the future. Management may characterize particular high potential employees in excessively positive terms. There may be a bias in the selection of the high potential employees and lack of fairness concerning strengths and development needs of other employees.

Talent developmental path includes experiences, exposures and challenges by which the employee must work through in order to emerge as the talent of the future. These paths are normally designed for different categories of employees. Experiences are important and highlighted as central to the design of talent development. They can lead to significant career advancement and confer strategic advantage. There are four key strengths of experiences in the context of talent development namely

  1. the development of an enhanced understanding of complex business issues and a broader perspective
  2. enhanced organizational and cultural awareness
  3. enhanced respect for differences and a greater sense of curiosity
  4. the opportunity to build relationships and enhance networking skills.

Exposures are also highlighted as an important dimension of talent development. Exposures mean opportunities to work in different contexts and situations. These may be achieved through job rotation, transfers to different departments, project and international assignments. Exposures provide employees with opportunities to experience different organizational, cultural, cross-cultural and work practice situations. They help to develop technical expertise, judgment and decision making, drive for results, strategic thinking and business acumen. Challenges or hardships are an important component of the talent development process. These may include challenges such as organizational turnaround, a start-up, downsizing or closure of a unit. Challenges allow every employee to address blind spots, learn from mistakes and failures, deal with stressful situations and recognize personal limitations.

Effective HR (human resource) systems in the organization support identification, assessment and development of talent. It includes human resource planning, effective selection of employees, performance management, career management processes and succession planning. There is a need for a contingency approach to the design of HR systems to support talent development. These systems are to be based on organizational strategy imperatives, needs and objectives. They also highlight the importance of cultural fit and the involvement of stakeholders in the full spectrum of talent management processes. There are normally four levels of talent integration. They point out that in the initial stages the HR systems consist of separate programmes and a strong emphasis on tools. At second level there is evidence of a more systematic approach emphasizing integrated and aligned processes and programmes. At third level, the organizational strategy drives HR system integration and alignment and at fourth level, there exists a talent management mindset within the organization.

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