Talent Management in the “Age of Diversity”

By Sabrina Williams, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Brigham Health

Managing a diverse workforce is something every employer will need to address or they will quickly find themselves losing out on top talent. Best practices around talent management have focused on managing the talent we have, including formalizing succession plans, creating mobility strategies, providing training and development opportunities and maintaining a culture focused on inclusion.

Those practices are tried and true and worthy of consideration. In many ways, they are the “basics”.  The future of talent management is less about processes and formal programs; it is about creating the culture where each employee manages their own careers. The paradigm is shifting and employees are looking not for a process but rather tools to help them improve their skills, own their schedules, negotiate their compensation opportunities and be their own advocates. So what is an employer to do? Celebrate different approaches and value the different ways employees define success. Talent management becomes a personalized roadmap that gives employees the information they need to craft their own definition of success.

Talent management should be about cultivating talent and not just “assessing” talent. Employees want to feel valued and heard. Being heard is about validating to each employee that they belong, that we understand their view of the work and that we value their thoughts. One example is the movement away from performance ratings. How does it work? Performance reviews, which focus on past performance, are replaced with a performance development discussion. Conversations are centered on strengths versus deficits. Some sample questions: How can we help you improve? What can I do to support your success? How can we leverage your strengths?  Recently we have piloted a “rate less” process, and the feedback has been extremely positive. Employees have said that this has allowed them to spend more time on moving forward and creating opportunities that leverage their talents and skills.

Managers have commented that they welcome the focus of these conversations as a means to help their employees advance, rather than simply creating a “paper trail” that focuses primarily on past performance. With the right talent management, employees are more satisfied in their work and contributions to an organization and have the tools they need to thrive.