Joanna Moczydłowska, Int.J.Buss.Mgt.Eco.Res., Vol 3(1),2012,432-438Talent Management: Theory and Practice ofManagement.The Polish ExperienceJoanna MoczydłowskaLazarski University, Warsaw, (Poland)AbstractTalent management is a modern and effective way of implementing the personnel policy enabling the organization toachieve strategic goals through the proper usage of the potential inherent in human resources. This chapter containsan attempt to answer the questions: What is the talent in the context of the career and the realization of professionalroles? What criteria determine the recognition of the employee as a talent? What incentive effects, but also whatdisincentive threats may arise as a consequence of talent management? Whether talent management should beaddressed to a narrow, elite group of employees, or perhaps a more egalitarian approach should be justifiedaccording to which every employee ought to be perceived and treated as a talent?The aim of this article is to present the talent management practices in Poland in relation to the rich, interdisciplinarytheory of that issue and to formulate utilitarian conclusions, whose implementation will help to improve managerialpractices in the area of TM.INTRODUCTIONTalent Management (TM) is treated in terms of modern and efficient way of implementing personnelpolicies that enables organizations to achieve their strategic goals through the proper use of the potentialinherent in people. Although this process involves many costs, enterprises and other organizationsdecide to use it on account of the future potential benefits associated with the creation and developmentof intellectual capital, important from the perspective of functioning of an organization and creating itsvalue. This problem has, therefore, a deeply utilitarian character, which does not exclude the analyses ofan epistemological and theorygenic nature. On the contrary, in the author’s opinion, good design andeffective implementation of the talent management system requires answers to the most fundamentalquestions: What is talent in the context of implementation of professional tasks? What criteria determinethe recognition of an employee as talent? What incentive effects, but also discouraging threats may ariseas a result of talent management? Should talent management be addressed to the narrow, elite group ofemployees or the egalitarian concept is justified according to which every employee ought to be seenand treated as talent? These are important issues from the perspective of the human resourcemanagement practices, yet very complex and interdisciplinary. They concern not only the formalsystems, procedures, tools, but primarily, underlying at their formation, the way of human understanding,one’s nature and psychophysical possibilities important in fulfilling the professional roles.The aim of this article is to present the talent management practices in relation to the rich,interdisciplinary theory of that issue and to formulate utilitarian conclusions, whose implementation willhelp to improve managerial practices in the area of TM.PREMISES, THE ESSENCE, AND AIMS OF TALENT MANAGEMENTEmployees by the side of owners, customers, business partners, local and national communities form animportant group of company’s stakeholders constituting one of its basic capitals. It causes a clearlyvisible change in perceiving particular groups of stakeholders of the organization. In the era of massproduction personnel issues remained on the margin of interests of the enterprise where the main objectsof these interests were the owners. With time, it became clear that this attitude does not bring theexpected benefits and the centre of gravity in organization’s activities moved towards the interests andexpectations of customers and business partners, which is referred to as the era of mass marketing.Finally, in the post-industrial era the social issues grew to the status of key issues, including respectingthe rights and needs of employees. Presently, the issues and undertakings focused on the developmentof human capital are brought to the forefront. The idea “Be responsible for what you sell and in whatenvironment you operate” is complemented by the demand “Be responsibility for who you hire.” (Król,Winnicka-Wejs, 2009)Since the end of the 90s of the last century, when in the U.S.A. the concept of “the war for talent” waspopularized, distinct increase in interest in high-potential employees is noticeable. Initially, the attentionwww.ijbmer.com432
Joanna Moczydłowska, Int.J.Buss.Mgt.Eco.Res., Vol 3(1),2012,432-438was primarily focused on finding and hiring people with extraordinary abilities; over time, talentmanagement has embraced additional components and gained in importance. The interest in the issue oftalent management is observed on a worldwide scale. The study conducted by Ashridge ManagementIndex of the Business Trends, on a sample of over 800 managers shows that as much as 66% ofrespondents indicate a need of talent management as a major challenge resulting from the process ofglobalization. In the same study 53% of managers indicated a need for a greater involvement ofcontemporary organizations in selecting and preparing the next generation of managers (Cheese,Thomas, Craig, 2009, p. 5).It has been forecasted, that in the face of environmental turbulence, globalization, demographic changes,the increasing role of technology, intellectualization of work the importance of talent management issueswill continue to grow. In this context, to the rank of a specific symbol grows the title and content of thearticle written by V. Buckingham and R. Vosburgh “The 21st Century Human Resources Function: It's theTalent, Stupid.” (2001) In the research, conducted by The Conference Board in partnership with theHouse of Skills, as many as 94% of personnel managers from the surveyed enterprises stated that theissue of talent management in the coming years will gain in importance. It is already treated in terms of avery important success factor of the organization (see Chart 1).Chart 1. Key internal success factors of an organization in the evaluation of managerial staff010Leaders development76Talent management72Building the culture of good results72Training and development65Salaries, bonuses, allowances42Changes in processes and technologies292030405060708090100Source: self-elaboration based on: Aligned At The Top, Global Survey by Deloite Touche Tohmatsu and theEconomist Intelligence Unit, 2007.Analyses of research reports on talent management in Polish enterprises deliver very diversified resultsconcerning the number of companies declaring the use of TM. The research results of The ConferenceBoard (3RD European HR Barometer, 2008) indicate a very high, as much as 73 percent rate of theexistence of processes (systems, software) of talent management in Polish enterprises. Justified aredoubts whether this result reflects the actual situation in Polish enterprises. In order to explain such ahigh result, authors of the report formulate the thesis that for the invitation to participate in a researchproject, in majority, responded these enterprises, for which talent management constitute the importanttopic, and which use such a program or intend to introduce one.Much more reliable seem to be the research results of “Talent Management in Poland” conducted in April2009 by Polish Human Resources Management Association and Warsaw School of Economics on asample of 180 large enterprises. They illustrate that 35% of enterprises use talent managementprograms, and 65% of them intend to implement them in the near future (Condition of Human Capital.,2009). The data clearly confirm the great interest of Polish business practitioners in solutions relevant fortalent management.Talent management is defined as a set of actions applied to highly talented individuals, undertaken withthe intention of their efficiency development and in order to achieve goals of the organization.These activities are formulated in the form of the following sequence: recruiting talents, phase of "transition" (transformation), departure.www.ijbmer.com433
Joanna Moczydłowska, Int.J.Buss.Mgt.Eco.Res., Vol 3(1),2012,432-438Recruiting talents is primarily expressed by recruitment procedures which identify the most desirablefeatures of candidates for employees with the use of the interactive methods of diagnosis, especially theassessment centre, psychological tests, deepened interviews. The evaluation of the candidate that takesinto account the psychological criteria reflecting his or her intellectual and personal potential is of a keyimportance. The factors facilitating the attraction of “candidates – talents” are company’s image, itsprestige. While analyzing the talent management T. Listwan (2005) does not exclude the acquisition oftalented employees in the course of internal recruitment, however, he puts a stronger emphasis onexternal sources, including as fast as possible pre-selection, for instance, in the course of studentinternships or job fairs.Phase of "transition" (transformation) is the stage of talent management, which primarily includes careermanagement, that is, the harmonious and purposeful development of an employee. It constitutes thefollowing: improvement and self-improvement for development of talent, employee evaluation,implementation of promotion policy, and motivating.The last of the distinguished stages in the division of talent management is departure. Departures ofemployees are natural processes, and therefore inevitable ones. In a particular way it concerns“employees – talents” who find, usually without a problem, a very attractive job offer on the externallabour market. When a company loses such employees, together with them it loses the significantresources of competencies; hence, a very important element of talent management constitutes thecounteraction against their departures from an organization.Talent management includes also recognition (in dialogue with employees) of specific skills and abilitiesof employees and assigning them tasks that allow for the maximum usage of these skills. The effect ofsuch an approach results in a sense of fulfilment of employees, increases their commitment, motivation,and greater loyalty to the employer. This in turn should translate into hard results: increased efficiency,increased innovation, and decrease in absenteeism and employee turnover. (Cannon, McGee, 2007).Among the most important goals of the talent management is also the participation in implementing thestrategy of building image of an employer as an attractive one for potential talented employees. Abroader approach to talent management includes the following: elaboration of the people management strategy; identification of key employee segments; analysis of labour market from the point of view of key employee segments; elaboration and implementation of individual development plans, career paths, succession plans(Parry, Urwin, 2009).TALENT MANAGEMENT OR TALENT DEVELOPMENT ?The term “talent management” is already well established in the language of management as a scienceand as a practical form of action. Nevertheless, it must be clearly emphasised that there is no shortage ofits critics. They underline that in the context of talent, in which the creativity should constitute its essence;management is actually its antithesis, especially in terms of its traditional presentation. It happens due tothe fact that this concept means more governing, that is, to say who is doing what, where and when to doit, whom listen to, in what participate. The concept of talent is extremely impoverished in manyenterprises. Talent is not seen as something above-average, but something that fits well certainexpectations. Various types of projects, created and implemented in diverse organizations programsraise objections. They indicate the risk of “inconstancy” in talent management. Hence, the suggestionthat the term “talent management” should be replaced with “talent development,” which means to createappropriate environment for talents identification, development, and exploitation. An organization thatdevelops talents is the one that cares for the development of organizational culture and simultaneouslyhas results of it, as probably the talented employees have opportunities there for self-realization. Theprocesses are the success factors that should arise so the people indeed want to give everything ofthemselves what is possible to give, and even more. It also constitutes the management style whichrejects the haphazardness (we have a project and we carry it out), and replaces it with a constantimprovement of working conditions and management. Among these working conditions are: the world ofvalues and physical safety of environment, quality of interpersonal relationships, and leadership attitudesof superiors. Yet, as practices of many organizations show talent management is an action in whichmoney are often invested – to a lesser extent ideas. Unfortunately, too many people still believe that thetalent management program consists in the fact that first employees must be selected, who are later senton some trainings, and are promised promotion, which will or will not come in future.Managers are also aware of the imperfection of TM systems. On the one hand, they appreciate theimportance of talent management (as it is shown by the results of the third edition of the research:“European HR Barometer. Trends and Perspectives On the Human Resource Function in Europe, 2008,”talent management is regarded as the task of human resources department since this department haswww.ijbmer.com434
Joanna Moczydłowska, Int.J.Buss.Mgt.Eco.Res., Vol 3(1),2012,432-438the strongest influence on the functioning of the organization), on the other hand, 67% of managersregard it as requiring significant improvement.The weaknesses of the practice in the area of talent management are tired to be eliminated on the basisof the Strategic Development of Talent - SDT (Rothwell, Kazanas, 2003). It is defined as a process ofchange in an organization, its external stakeholders, internal groups and employees by planned andunplanned learning, in such a way that they possess the competencies necessary to support theorganization in achieving and sustaining the competitive advantage. The authors of the SDT concept donot confine themselves to a small group of employees by creating for them special paths for their careersdevelopment, but suggest the need for introduction the comprehensive process of the organizationchanging, taking into account both internal and external groups, which are supposed to be involved instrengthening its competitive advantage. W.J. Rothwell and H.C. Kazanas talk about planned andunplanned learning, having in mind not only trainings or postgraduate studies for prominent individuals.Unplanned learning and informal education are associated with the transfer of knowledge betweenparticular groups of employees during collective work, while solving problems of the organization, andalso when carrying out strategic projects.The practice of management whose picture emerges from the study (see Chart 2) shows that theconclusions of the theory of strategic development of talent remain rather in the area of postulates than inthe area of realization.Chart 2 Initiatives offered to talented employees (the most frequent choices)Opportunity to work in otherdepartments, performing otherfunctionsGroup-oriented training programs01020304050607080Source: self-elaboration based on: Talent Management - Challenges, Trends, Examples of Solutions, researchreport, The Conference Board Europe, www.conference-board.org (condition on 10/11/2011).The data presented in Chart 2 show that in the practice of talent management dominates an approachdirected towards such configuring and developing abilities of a particular employee that his or her activitywould realize to the maximum extent expectations of superiors, but rather not exceed them. Thementioned developmental activities allow for expanding the knowledge base and professionalexperience, but it is not tantamount to the creation of conditions for developing innovation, creativity, andentrepreneurial courage of an employee.TALENT – THE ELITIST OR EGALITARIAN GOOD?The concept of talent management is to a large extent determined by the definition of talent itself: who ina company will be regarded as talent. It concerns especially the workers engaged in variousdevelopment programs, or even those who are only considered as their potential participants. Untilrecently, in Polish companies seemed to dominate the idea of an elitism of talent what reflects thementioned already report of The Conference Board. Regardless of the enterprise’s size, it was expectedthat the participation of employees in one edition of the program would vary from 2% to 5%. Only 15% ofparticipated in the studies companies declared that all employees have chances to take part in theprogram; in majority it was reserved only for managers and treated as a motivational stimulus and ameasure of the success of a qualified employee. Still popular elitist approach, however, seems togradually yield to the opinion that all employees are regarded as talent, who possess a high level of keycompetencies for the company and are able to contribute significantly to its development.Analyses conducted in 2009 by the Leader’s Institute confirm that the range and availability of talentdevelopment programs within organizations slowly increases. They include from 0.5% to 30% of workers,www.ijbmer.com435
Joanna Moczydłowska, Int.J.Buss.Mgt.Eco.Res., Vol 3(1),2012,432-438what gives the average of 6.3%. The growth of employment in a company, however, goes hand in handwith the decrease in availability of this program. Requests for more egalitarian treatment of talent emergefrom the report made by Polish Human Resources Management Association and Warsaw School ofEconomics. Participants of the studies declare to increase the availability of talent developmentprograms.The research of A. Pocztowski team (2008) conducted in 36 Polish enterprises shows that businesspractitioners differ, often substantially, in understanding the concept of “a talented employee.” Formajority of them (over 60%), talent is someone who achieves the outstanding results, who is highlyeffective. Considerable part of the respondents (45%) states that a talented employee is the one whopossess above-average abilities in any field of knowledge. Approximately 15% of the respondentsidentify talent with extensive knowledge, the same number of respondents with specific personality traits.Individual opinions define talent as a high level of qualifications or specific practical experienceassociated with work. Such different understandings of talent explain the divergent attitudes to the issueof talent management, especially to the matter of what part of employees and which of them regard astalents.TALENT MANAGEMENT OR COMPETENCY MANAGEMENT?In the author’s opinion, many dilemmas associated with talent result from “mixing-up the terms,” fromdefinitional chaos visible in publications devoted to this subject. The lack of precision in describing andscientific reasoning may have a substantial negative impact on HR practitioners who attempt to name thepractices, projects, and operational procedures adopted in their organizations. For instance, in the workedited by A. Pocztowski (2008, p. 19-27), in the chapter “Deficiency of talented employees” we readabout a shortage of workers with specific, desired in the labour market professional qualifications, andabout the mismatch of the Polish education system to the needs of modern organizations. It is difficult toagree with this way of thinking which identifies an employee with a specific profile of the education with aperson gifted in that discipline. Above-average abilities do not constitute an indispensable factor to obtainqualifications in the given profession. As F.P. Drucker (2000) aptly notes, “mathematicians are born, buteveryone can learn trigonometry. The same applies to learning foreign languages, or to any otherimportant field of knowledge.”. Mastering the particular knowledge, building on its basis particularpractical skills is, with the proper motivation, sufficient for effective, independent work on a given position.It cannot be, however, identified with talent, which is indeed very conducive to the learning process, but itis not regarded as the necessary factor. It seems more appropriate to assume that talent is synonymouswith outstanding or above-average abilities, heightened abilities, and even a “gift” that allows for theextremely efficient activity. The best known typology of talents includes (Sękowski, 2005): Above-average intellectual abilities, and within them: heightened level of general abilities, specific abilities concerning the particular discipline at the general average rate of intelligence. Creativity expressed in originality, fluency, flexibility of thinking, undertaking new unconventionalproblems, risk-taking, high acceptance of the atmosphere of uncertainty and ambiguity, richemotionality. Involvement in work which is associated with such features as: internal discipline, perseverance inthe pursuit of a goal, diligence, tendency to sacrifice, belief in one’s own abilities.One of the most important matters concerning talent is the question about possibility to modify talentsand create them. In other words: are these predispositions genetically conditioned and rather permanent,or perhaps it is possible to generate talents through appropriate improvement, training, and stimulation. Itis a fundamental problem for the process of human potential management. Adoption of the geneticconditioning of ability requires focusing the personnel policy on recruiting into the organization workerswho possess the expected high abilities. The process of motivating such people would be solely aimed at“mining” the intellectual potential, which these workers have brought to the organization, improving it,saturating the innate intelligence with the knowledge and skills important from the perspective of aparticular company.Recognizing the crucial importance of intelligence as the foundation of talent, it must be assumed thatgenetic factors to the greatest extent determine its level. The role of environmental factors, especiallythose affecting one in his or her childhood, or even before the birth (in the prenatal period), is notcompletely crossed out, but the prominent role among the determinants of intellectual abilities isassigned to the genes. The studies on this topic conducted by psychologists confirm, ratherunequivocally, the truth of the thesis of the innate conditions of intellectual potential. (Bouchard, 1990) Iftalent, therefore, will be primarily considered through the prism of intelligence, especially understood in anarrow sense, that is, through the prism of a model of information processing, talent management shouldwww.ijbmer.com436
Joanna Moczydłowska, Int.J.Buss.Mgt.Eco.Res., Vol 3(1),2012,432-438be focused on what in American literature is called “the war for talent,” namely, on recruiting, hiring andretaining employees outstandingly talented. (O’Reilly, Pfeffer, 2000, p.14).If we consider the concept of talent more widely and accept that it is not only intelligence, but also thepersonal predispositions, or continue to identify talent with intelligence, but widely understood, asmultifactorial, including also the social and emotional intelligence, there would appear much greaterspace management. Although personality is determined by hereditary factors to a considerably degreeas well, it is more susceptible to environmental impacts. Therefore, talent management primarily requiresdefining the talent itself; determining whether it will be understood narrowly and mainly through the prismof “the innate gift” of creativity and/or intellect, or understood widely. The broader understanding of talent,taking into account the factor of involved in work, including in the definition of talent the psychologicalpredispositions such as internal discipline, perseverance in the pursuit of a goal, diligence, tendency tosacrifice, belief in one’s own abilities brings the concept of talent much closer to the concept ofcompetency. It also gives the organization much greater abilities to manage this potential.In the author’s opinion it is necessary to make a consistent distinction between the concepts of talent andcompetency. From perspectives of most organizations and their personnel policies it seems morereasonable to focus on competency management than on talents. This conclusion emerges from asimple fact that prominent, talented people constitute only about 10% of the population. It is a greatchallenge to recruit them into the organization. The supply of talent is too small to satisfy the demandarising from the challenges of the modern economy. Saying colloquially, there are not enough geniusesfor all organizations interested in them. And although, it is difficult to argue with the statement that it isbetter to start with the great people than to make them great, most companies must choose the otherway – to build an organization that helps the ordinary people achieve results of those who belong to theupper 10% of the population. Such possibilities are offered by professional competency managementsystems. Competencies do not require the outstanding abilities and ensure the implementation of work atthe appropriate, though not necessarily at the highest level. A competent employee, that is, the one whopossesses the required knowledge, skills, experience, and predispositions to his or her profession, isvery valuable for the organization, what does not mean that must be a genius, or an outstandingindividual. Distinctive, spectacular results are precisely achieved by “employees – talents,” and therefore,only they should be treated as the subject of talent management.CONCLUSIONIn most extreme opinions the thesis "the interest in talent management finally reached the appropriatelevel – hysteria” (Hewlett, 2011) is formulated. Rejecting such strong expressions, the author is incline tonotice rather positive effects of this research trend and, at the same time, the practical activity in the areaof HR. Talent management can provide answers to many significant questions for the functioning of anyorganization and protect it against many potential sources of crisis associated with the wrong personnelpolicy.The evolution of management sciences has led to a situation where human resources are seen ashuman capital, as the most important part of intellectual capital, which interacting with structural capital(process capital) is, in today’s knowledge-based economy, the primary source of competitive advantageand the value of an organization. The conclusions emerging from presented here epistemologicalanalyses and cited results of studies allow to point at the fundamental differences in defining the conceptof talent and resulting from it consequences for the process of talent management. One thing seems tobe indisputable: observable is the real growth of interest of practitioners and theorists in issues ofmanaging the most capable workers and the desire to avoid, or at least minimize, wasting that capital.In some organizations, the philosophy that all employees are talents has been promoted, thus each ofthem is covered by talent management. Such personnel policy usually has significant motivating powersince every employee can feel appreciated, unique, and has a chance for development. This policy,however, turns out to be very expensive and often only declarative. It is an attractive slogan in theinternal range of public relations rather than refection of the factual situation. The democratic“correctness” requires to avoid dividing employees into more or less talented, nevertheless, the realityleads to the reflection that equality of talents is rather a fiction, hence the talent management by definitionshould be the activity addressed to key employees (presently and in the future).This “defence of elitism” of talent management cannot be, however, understood as promoting the divisioninto “equal” and “more equal,” into those who have the conditions to develop their potential, and thosewho are denied such rights. It is justified to reserve the concept of talent management for actions takentowards outstanding employees; whereas competency management as more adequate for the personnelsituation of vast majority in the organization, which in a higher degree corresponds to realistic features ofhuman resources of an organization, that is composed of people with diverse possibilities and frequentlydevoid of outstanding abilities. Undoubtedly, justified is the popular in the scientific literature belief thatthe search of Stars, that is, the winners, who under specified resources and certain conditions will bewww.ijbmer.com437
Joanna Moczydłowska, Int.J.Buss.Mgt.Eco.Res., Vol 3(1),2012,432-438able to implement the company's strategic objectives effectively; it is one of the basic elements ofbuilding the competitive advantage. The problem is, whom do we regard as a Star, and whether there willbe enough Stars to satisfy the personnel needs of all organizations interested in them. It seems verydoubtful. Every employee possesses a smaller or larger development potential. As the breakthrough forthe management can be considered the assumption that the task of an enterprise is to create appropriateconditions for the development of employees’ potential and strengthening the learning culture of anorganization. Calling all training and developing activities addressed to employees as talent managementshould be assessed as an overuse, as a specific sign of the pursuit of fashion in management. It doesnot change the fact that the popularization of the id
Talent management is a modern and effective way of implementing the personnel policy enabling the organization to achieve strategic goals through the proper usage of the potential inherent in human resources. This chapter contains an attempt to answer the questions: What is the talent in the context of the career and the realization of .