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Behind Closed Doors – The Talent Review Meeting

Posted by Amy Wilson on August 26, 2008


There are a lot of things that sound good about talent management that most companies aren’t doing yet. Fully integrated talent management, for instance. Job-specific competencies, for another. Even succession planning.

However, I am betting that there is one thing your company is already doing and is focused on doing well. Most refer to it as a “talent review,” but it may be referred to as a calibration or roundtable. The idea is the same: a management team comes together to review a particular population of talent to identify high potentials, successors, and development pools and connect this to their long-term business needs. It is a conversation (and often an argument) amongst business people about the future.

It is the ultimate intersection between business operations and people – at the highest, most strategic level – leading and sustaining the business. It is also, therefore, HR’s chance to shine.

HR goes to great lengths to gather and present the data of the executives-on-the-rise population. “The Talent Profile” is often printed in a glossy book and distributed to each executive in the room. The stats – including demographics, qualifications, and future considerations – are painstakingly collected, vetted, and summarized. As Dan McCarthy suggests, if you’ve been asked for this information, get it to the requester quick! And, I would argue, if you’re an executive and you haven’t been asked, you might want to start asking some questions yourself.

While HR or talent organizations can spend the time to collect and present this data on a small subset of an organization, it isn’t exactly scalable. That’s why you see lower levels of the organization putting together makeshift, inconsistent, and ultimately, less effective, talent reviews. However, the demand is there. The leadership pipeline requires lower and lower levels of focus. Without the manpower of the Beijing Olympics, it’s best to start thinking about how systems can help.

I would argue that it is this process – Talent Reviews, starting at the executive level and catching on at lower levels – that will be the driver for building up talent profiles, integrating the talent processes, and insisting that the “hard stuff” get done. It’s not going to happen the other way around.

12 Responses to “Behind Closed Doors – The Talent Review Meeting”

  1. Meg Bear said

    Great insight Amy! I agree that the Talent Review is the place where “performance and potential” meet to the best strategic benefit of the company. HR plays a critical role here and using this leadership role to help the next level of the organization will help to achieve the promise that most are looking to capitalize on with Succession Planning initiatives.

  2. […] not the whole story and we shouldn’t stop there.  There’s talent calibration and even talent reviews to […]

  3. […] take Talent Reviews for example.  I’ve spoken with many companies that are conducting Talent Reviews to ensure they are properly engaging their talent.  And my partner in crime, Ken, fell in love […]

  4. […] Or, should the pool be continuously tweaked, with people coming and going, based on regular talent review meetings?  As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Organizations are […]

  5. There is no question that talent reviews are a critical element of succession management and career development. Kim Lamoureux, our senior analyst in leadership development and succession management, posted a blog on this topic below:

    http://www.bersin.com/Blog/post/Succession-Management—Making-the-Talent-Review-Work.aspx

  6. Amy Wilson said

    Thanks for commenting, Josh. We are big fans of your research and your blog!

  7. […] If you are interested in being promoted, especially to the more senior grades, a network is probably critical.  Most people do not realize just how critical.  You see, a lot of companies have some type of calibration activity.  This essentially means that it is not just your performance that will determine your advancement, but instead it is how others perceive your performance and potential that matter.   If you are well networked you have a distinct advantage over someone who is not, in a Talent Review discussion. […]

  8. Raju Mistry said

    Given that there is a strong business case for Talent Reviews – and the obvoius benefits of having one – I am wondering why does this needs to be “pushed down” by HR. I have never seen this happening as a course of business events.

  9. […] is this desire to think more broadly about leadership and top talent that makes a scalable Talent Review process so critical.  Identifying (and investing in) future leaders is a process that allows […]

  10. […] doing Talent Reviews with a broader population of the workforce, so that additional hidden talent can be identified […]

  11. […] Posted by Amy Wilson on September 27, 2010 We’ve learned a lot from our customers over the last few years.  One of the key lessons was about Talent Reviews. […]

  12. […] years ago, I wrote about the emerging best practice of conducting talent reviews. Leading HR organizations found that facilitating key talent conversations with senior leaders in […]

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