Attracting and retaining top talent has been a key conversation in HR for a while now and it is not going away.  Our economy is improving and unemployment is dropping, but the rate at which this recovery is happening depends a lot on who you ask.  One thing that can’t be denied though is that it is happening slowly. 

Businesses are finding themselves in a situation where they want to staff up so they can support recovery but they don’t want to be overstaffed if the recovery slows down even more.  Ultimately, this means that talent optimization is not only a cost effective solution to this conundrum but it is also the safest solution.  And caution seems to be the word of the times.

Talent optimization is a concept that in its broadest definition means making the most of the talent you have.  But what does that mean in a practical sense?   And how do you not only achieve it, but know you’ve achieved it when you do?

Effective talent optimization requires a well thought out and deliverable strategy.  This concept cannot be some pie in the sky theory that is discussed ad nauseum with no executable game plan.  Talent optimization can easily fall into the category of when is a strategy not a strategy?  (Great article, by the way!)

Here are some key components to creating a Talent Optimization Strategy:

Strategic Alignment – Leadership, culture and business goals must be in alignment.  Without this, there is no hope that any strategy will succeed, especially one involving human capital.

Talent Assessment – There must be metrics in place to accurately assess performance in your people.  And high-level measurements and data analytic tools with which to do that.  You can’t optimize talent if you don’t know what that talent is.

Programs – Learning, development, and succession planning programs that take the defined talent and move it to the next level.

More Metrics – As important as it is to measure talent, you also have to be able to asses the results of any programs you do implement.  How else can you tell if your talent optimization strategy is having any effect?

These are obviously high level suggestions for what needs to be a very detailed and cohesive strategy.  But you do need a strategy.  Companies that are aware of the importance of this are creating organizational development roles internally and/or working with firms such as ours, or other consultants to achieve these goals. 

What are you doing to optimize your talent?  Do you have a set strategy?  Do you see the need for one?