Organizations are starting to realize the value of talent reviews in understanding the workforce and gaining insight into company culture and identity. Talent reviews are a great method to gain an in-depth view of your organization, in comparison to performance reviews which often only scratch the surface and provide a superficial ’snapshot’ representation of an employee. This lack of detail and knowledge makes it harder to determine appropriate actionable steps which are the right fit for the individual and provide planning for their career and personal development 


However, not all organizations are large enough or have the resources for the detailed outputs and benefits of talent reviews to become realized. Talent pool identification (TPI) is a useful tool which an organizations managers and executives can utilize to help reach their talent development and retention objectives 


Talent pool identification is an approach for identifying which employees have untapped potential, why some employees may be underperforming, and provides knowledge to appropriately allocate resources and plan actions for the future. No organization, regardless of size, has a single group of employees; there are many different subgroups of individuals which can be best understood by gathering and analyzing information using the right methods. 


TPI allows a manager to adopt a talent focused mindset to get to know their employees. 


During talent pool identification, common practice is to gather information from a variety of evaluators like HR personnel, direct supervisors, managers, and the employee. These sources aid in creating a complete and comprehensive picture of the individual’s talents and performance 


Through TPI, the variety of information collected creates the opportunity to cross map, communicate, and address inconsistencies between sources regarding expectations, performance, viewpoints, and management or motivation styles. The increased communication and discussion will allow the employee to feel heard and valued, facilitating employee morale, decreasing turnover, and helping to strengthen work relationships. 


Key concepts which are elaborated on in TPI are the strengths, weaknesses, goals, and motivations of employees, while also assessing their ability and desire in areas such as communication, growth focus (aspirations in development), mobility, and client facing skills. This creates a fuller picture of the employee and will help management understand their views and opinions in addition to just their performance numbers. 


TPI provides insight to appropriately distribute or leverage company resources. 


The information collected while performing TPIs allows the organization to create actionable knowledge and set up specific steps to address the needs and opportunities for each individual. Figure 1 shows some potential action items that may be appropriate depending on the best group identified for the individual. 


Using TPI to identify motivations and action items for each employee will save the organization resources on training and salary. Understanding the aspiration of the individual in addition to their strengths will allow the company to leverage which employees require what types of investment and insight to distribute the right resources to the right employee at the right time.  


Through assessing talent alignment, managers can have multiple sources of input on whether certain employees are in the right role to both challenge the individual and make the most of their talents and skills to benefit the organization’s and the individual’s goals. 


TPI helps organizations plan to reach short- and long-term strategic goals. 


When done routinely over time, TPI allows for the organization to track the goals, strengths, and weaknesses of the employee. This helps determine strategies to increase productivity that are unique to the individual and will help the company reach targets. It will also allow the manager or executive to track the individuals goal setting and career planning to ensure they develop the skills and experience to reach their objectives. 


On an organizational level, TPI helps executives plan for major changes in the company, such as succession planning or reorganization through mergers or acquisitions. TPI can identify the next leaders of the organization and plan to develop their skills and goals to prepare for organizational objectives moving forward. 

An organization’s strategic objectives, growth plans, and innovations cannot be realized when the right people are not in the right places to highlight their strengths, develop their talents, and challenge complacency. After all, it is the employees that help elevate an organization. Understanding each employee will help drive success at all levels and achieve strategic objectives by planning out tangible action items and tracking their progress. 


What Does Talent Pool Identification Look Like? 


The graphic in figure 1 shows one way to group employees by their individual or leadership focus into talent pools. The modification of a traditional 9-box talent pool methodology removes ambiguity and allows greater focus on primary talent pools of interest. The graphic includes a possible description of an employee who fits in that group as well as potential next steps. 


Making TPI part of the manager’s toolkit is a good way to help an organization gain a more comprehensive and evolving picture of talent development and motivation that the traditional staff performance review. By making TPI assessments and evaluations an ongoing part of the organization’s management strategy helps engage, motivate, and retain talent to support the overall performance of the business. 


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