What is Integrated Talent Management, and How Do Competencies Relate?

Posted July 01 2013
By Jim Graber, PhD

Not long ago, an individual at a networking event asked me what kind of work I did, and I told him, “Talent Management.” He became excited, and said to me, “you mean with people in Hollywood?” He just as easily might have assumed that I was working with musicians or professional athletes. TV shows like America’s Got Talent perpetuate the notion that talent is associated with a select few. I told him that I wasn’t working with Oprah or any of her peers, that the talent management I was talking about was related to Human Resources Management and included essentially the whole workforce.
Fourth entry in a seventeen part introductory series on competency management:
  1. Why does the world need a competency toolkit?
  2. What’s a competency? How do they differ from KSA’s? 
  3. What are the main types of competencies?
  4. What is integrated talent management, and how do competencies relate?
  5. What’s the business case for competencies?
  6. Why are behavioral indicators so important?
  7. How are behavioral indicators created?
  8. What’s competency modeling?
  9. How does a competency model fit within a job description or job profile?
  10. Different approaches to competency modeling
  11. Principles of competency modeling
  12. Job role competency modeling
  13. Job family competency modeling
  14. Decisions to be made before a competency modeling project
  15. Organization core competency model
  16. Preparations for a Competency Modeling Project
  17. 20 Competency Modeling Best Practices

So what is Talent? There are two meanings. The Gallup organization simply defines talent as "a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied." This definition may sound a bit dry and academic, but I think it hits the mark, particularly for the world of work. Everyone who consistently performs valued work at a satisfactory or better level has talent. A basketball player that consistently can hit 30-foot jump shots despite a very tall and fast person closely guarding him has talent, but so also does a truck driver who can skillfully back her rig up to a loading dock. Both of these individuals needed to learn and practice their crafts, perhaps thousands of times, to perfect the result. Thus, talent is really potential to be productive, and in the language of Gallup, the successful basketball player and truck drivers have developed their inherent talents into strengths. Secondly, Talent is used to refer to people that have talents, particularly if they have developed these into strengths. Collectively, the people working for an organization are its talent.

So what is Talent Management? At its most basic, we define it as, “A set of processes for providing the talent your organization needs to achieve its strategic objectives.” An advanced talent management program provides the right talent just-in-time at the best possible cost, and it continues to develop a talent pool in response to changing needs of the organization, a dynamic economy, and a changing talent marketplace

Ultimately, the objectives and methods of Talent Management are the reason we care about competencies. Competencies are the lifeblood of talent management. All aspects of talent management rely on competencies because they are the link between all the different pieces. We can define work in terms of the competencies that are required to be successful, and we can assess people to determine who matches well with the work. Competencies are at the core of who we hire, the training we provide, how people advance in the organization, and pay bands. Without competencies to unify the different disciplines of talent management, we would need to go back to the recent past when hiring was unrelated to training which in turn was unrelated to promotion. We are in a better place now.

You can find several examples of competencies here.
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