What Is a Talent Mindset & How Can You Reap Its Benefits?

* Updated September 2023

In a world where businesses, products, and services have become more digitized, globalized, and commoditized, talent will become one of the only true differentiators for lasting competitive advantage. Therefore, it’s imperative and prudent to invest in talent management. Adopting a “talent mindset” is essential to becoming a great company centered around this goal.

Organizational leaders have a responsibility to ensure the development and growth of the talent that has been entrusted to them. This is because a workforce is one of the most valuable and expensive company assets. The job of the leader is to deploy the appropriate management and utilization of talent!

What is a talent mindset?

What does talent management look like within an organization? It starts with the right mindset; with strong support from all stakeholders. Drawing from the work of The War for Talent by Michaels, Handfield-Jones, and Axelrod:

A talent mindset is:

  • A true understanding, conviction, and demonstration that better talent leads to superior business results
  • Where all leaders have and accept their responsibility to grow, develop and redeploy the best talent across the organization
  • When talent management is seen as a critical lever to drive corporate performance
  • Actively taking more risks and bold actions on talent to expand the pool of “ready now” leaders to fuel future corporate growth

A talent mindset is not:

  • A vague notion or slogan that “people are our most valuable asset”
  • Where HR is responsible for and owns all things people and talent-related
  • An ad-hoc investment in an annual succession planning process that often never gets used when making talent decisions
  • A situation where leaders simply work with the people they inherit and covet the best performers for themselves

Key characteristics of a strategic talent mindset

The leaders who have this talent mindset often display several similarities between them:

  • Great leaders understand that better talent drives better results. While it’s tempting to rush hiring, waiting for the right candidate pays off in performance.
  • Dedicate 15-20% of their time to talent reviews and planning. Real commitment means actively nurturing and discussing talent.
  • Knows what top-tier talent means for your organization and industry. To attract the best, be ready to offer competitive compensation and a desirable workplace.
  • The best leaders are perpetual teachers, consistently imparting the importance of the talent mindset, and fostering growth.

Assessing current talent mindset

Leaders should be thoughtful as to the role of talent in their business and how talent management fits within the scope of their role. To assess your current talent mindset consider the following:

  • What role does talent play in the achievement of business goals?
  • Will having better people provide a competitive advantage?
  • Does differentially investing in talent ensure success in the marketplace?
  • Do you accept the responsibility for strengthening your talent pool as a crucial part of your job?
  • What investments are you willing to make in growing your people?
  • What talent management goals will you hold yourself accountable to over the coming year?
  • What actions could you take to create a more sustainable team/department/function?

How to implement a strategic talent mindset

Once you’ve evaluated the current status and feasibility of talent mindset in your organization, how can you implement a more robust version? To start, adopting a talent mindset involves encouraging all managers to have frequent, candid conversations with their direct reports about their careers:

  • Long-term career ambitions
  • Agree to one key development action
  • Recognition for a job well done
  • Succession for key positions and preparation needed
  • Opportunities for redeployment within the organization
  • Suggesting colleagues who would be good coach or mentor?

Some other tips for emphasizing a talent mindset across the organization include:

Get support from the top down

Initiate the talent journey by garnering endorsement from leadership. The commitment of the CEO and senior leadership to talent management is vital because support filters down to other levels of the company. Overcome the challenge of a hesitant CEO by presenting the long-term benefits of proactive talent management and how a talent mindset is key to accomplishing this effectively.

Get buy-in from HR

Collaborate with your organization’s human resources to shape a program that harmonizes with the company’s objectives. Establish transparent communication channels with HR to underscore the priority of a strategic talent mindset. Leverage their expertise to ensure an ongoing alignment between business strategy and talent management.

Keep engagement & accountability high

It’s also crucial to lead by example and enforce accountability. Cultivate this across all managerial levels for nurturing talent and creating talent pools. Prompt constructive dialogue through insightful questions such as:

  • “How do we align our team’s skills with our strategic goals?”
  • “Do we possess the talent to meet future challenges?”
  • “What steps can we take to nurture talent in line with our vision?”

Upgrade your talent management with Keystone Partners

Having better talent, which starts with having the right mindset, impacts all performance levers. The evidence is clear that talent is the key to business’ success, and leadership teams have never been more motivated to implement a talent mindset and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace to win.

Keystone Partners has decades of experience working with a wide range of industries and regions across the US, transforming culture, improving retention, and strengthening talent development. Get in touch with us today to see how we can support your talent needs!

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