10 Talent Management Best Practices

Talent management continues to be a top concern for leaders amid ongoing labor market tightness. We often hear that talent is the most important asset in an organization. But are you taking the necessary steps to attract the right talent, and then educate, encourage, and maintain your top talent?

Talent management is the umbrella that covers all aspects of taking care of your employees, including strategies to attract the right talent, education and training tools for all staff and leadership development plans, among other elements. Here are 10 talent management best practices that can help you enhance the talent management program at your institution.

Update job descriptions and provide role clarity

The very first step to formalize your talent management program is to create and update job descriptions for all positions in the organization. In outlining the purpose of the position, ensure you clarify the role, so everyone understands their job completely. Include the organization’s core values so employees can identify if their personal core values align with the company’s. Having updated and clearly defined job descriptions for all positions is a strategy to attract the right talent.

Review your organizational design

With the current turnover ratios that institutions experience, you could update your organizational chart daily. That isn’t necessary, however. First you should create an organizational design only based on functions. Then create one with the employees’ names that occupy each position. The most important questions to answer are: Does the current organizational design support the current business model? What changes do we need to make to ensure it supports the future needs of the institution? Update the chart at least quarterly and ensure it’s available to all staff.

Create a formal performance review process

The lack of a formal performance review process results in complete lack of accountability at all levels of an organization. There are plenty of software solutions that automate the entire process and save all the documentation electronically. Managers no longer need to complete review forms by hand although, unfortunately, many still want to do it the old way or not do them at all. Yes, the process takes time, but it is foundational to retaining your top talent and removing the talent that is a poor fit in your company.

The best approach has three simple steps: 1) The employee provides input into their own performance for the past 12 months at least one week prior to the formal meeting; 2) The employee and manager meet to discuss opportunities to grow and recognize accomplishments; 3) The employee takes ownership of their own growth and provides their manager with a plan to improve, grow and learn for the next year. Ensure the compensation and salary communication takes place in a separate meeting. Doing so will avoid the employee wanting to get to the salary conversation right away.

Conduct 90-day check-ins and ‘stay interviews’

Attracting and then retaining new talent is an ongoing challenge for most companies. It is therefore important to always conduct a 90-day check-in to ensure new employees integrate into your company’s culture and perform their jobs as agreed. It is also crucial to stay in touch with your existing staff; one way to do so is to conduct “stay interviews.” The purpose of these interviews is to discover any issues or challenges employees may have. Many communication issues take care of themselves through these informal meetings with your current team members.

Provide ongoing culture training

Your company has an established culture. Can you define it in words? Does your culture reflect your core values? Do your employees know your core values? Can they recite them? These are important questions to ask your leadership team. The first step to provide culture training is to ensure you define your top three to five core values and share them consistently with the entire staff. Reward those who exhibit and live out your company’s core values to encourage others to do the same. Your culture reflects how you do things your company’s way. You need to continually enhance your culture and protect it from bad influences once you achieve the culture you aspire to have in your organization.

Establish and communicate succession plans for all key positions

It is imperative for leadership to identify successors to take over the key positions in the company. You need to identify both an immediate successor and a planned successor to have a complete plan. The immediate successor to a specific position could be several employees in the event of a tragedy or sudden departure. The planned successor must be a person who has the skills, talent and experience to take over the duties of the person leaving. Once you identify the successors, tell them! Often emerging leaders leave a company because nobody told them they were being considered for key positions in the company. Communication is once again the key to success of these plans.

Offer training for emerging leaders

Once you have identified and communicated to the potential successors that they have an opportunity to advance to leadership positions, provide them with leadership and management training. Choose the appropriate course for them to attend and ensure you budget for their training. There are also books that can prepare emerging leaders to take over leadership positions. They need to know that you support their learning activities and that it’s OK not to have all the credentials just yet. Give them time to mature so they can succeed at their first supervisory job and grow from there.

Give experienced leaders opportunities for continued development

One key to the ongoing success of any company is to continue to develop your leadership team. Often their training does not happen because they themselves are too busy helping the upcoming leaders. But leaders at all levels must continue to develop their own leadership talent. There is nothing like experience; however, even experienced, matured leaders need help in new situations — especially in today’s uncertain world. Ensure you budget for higher leadership training and send your senior executives. They will come back refreshed and encouraged to continue leading the organization.

Implement cross-training throughout the entire organization

The best way to avoid territorial control issues in your company is by cross-training everyone in something else. When there is an established culture where every employee is trained first in their own job and then cross-trained to back up another position, the company will experience higher employee retention. Employees appreciate when the company invests in their education and training. To elevate the importance of ongoing cross-training, always keep your customers top of mind. Can they be serviced regardless of who is on vacation or out of the office? If the answer is yes, you have a well-trained and cross-trained staff.

Pay your employees based on performance

Organizations want to please their employees and ensure they feel appreciated. However, there is now a spirit of entitlement where employees forget that a bonus is simply that — a bonus paid based on their efforts beyond the call of duty. Communication is the key to ensuring employees understand on the one hand that they are valued, and on the other hand, that they are paid to do a specific job. They should not expect a bonus for doing their job. The bonus is based on merit, their own performance, and also based on the company meeting its goals as a whole.

Marcia Malzahn is the president and founder of Malzahn Strategic, a financial institution consultancy focused on strategic planning, enterprise risk management, treasury management and talent management. She has 23 years of banking experience, the last 10 as the EVP/CFO/COO of a community bank she co-founded where she oversaw all the bank operations areas. Malzahn is also a motivational keynote speaker, bank trainer and a published author of five books.

Editor’s note: Marci Malzahn has blogs dedicated to this topic. Links can be found here: https://malzahnstrategic.com/ten-talent-management-best-practices/ and https://malzahnstrategic.com/ten-human-capital-management-best-practices-part-2/