Talent management

by Nikki Bush & Raymond de Villiers

Talent management, as a discipline, has seen a shift over time to managing resources instead of managing people. In amongst all the processes and procedures surrounding human resources today we have lost the art of keeping the human in the middle. This art is more critical today in talent management when it comes to high performing young people within organisations.

Connecting with talent as individual human beings creates an emotional connection which, in turn, becomes an emotional anchor, giving companies half a chance of retaining their young talent for longer. In a world of high employee churn, with youngsters leaving sometimes even before the on-boarding process has even been completed, wise line managers will find ways to create emotional connections with their team members.

Most people spend more time each day interacting with their co-workers and managers than they do with their families and friends. This forced intimacy can result in either happiness or alienation, depending on how satisfying their connection is with those around them.

Take an interest in each other

Speaking to a 30-year old line manager in a financial services company, who keeps his team members around for an average of about three years, he said you have to get on the same wavelength as your employees by getting to know their interests. As an example, he knows which sporting fixtures are taking place on the weekend and can engage meaningfully with his staff because he knows who the soccer and rugby fans are and which teams they support.

Knowing enough about your team members – from their family make up to their goals, hopes and dreams, helps you to assist them in working towards what’s important to them in their lives. Discovering the strengths and passions of high performing young talent can assist you in providing them with opportunities to shine within the group no matter where they fall in seniority. This is a way to raise employee engagement significantly as you help them find meaning in their daily work.

Put their strengths to work

By putting their strengths to work you build confidence. Being an effective Journeyman™ is about facilitating members of your group to have an impact. When individuals realise they can have an impact they are more likely to step up the plate, do more and do it better.

Be Digitally Savvy

Today’s young talent live digitally. The Pokemon Go app is a good illustration of how this generation is digital first. Pokemon Go has been lauded for getting Digital Natives off the couch and into the park. It is succeeding because the younger generation layer real life onto digital whereas older generations layer digital on top of real life. A clear example of this is when Ray observed his preteens playing with their dog recently. It was a robust chasing gaming around the garden. The language they used and the framework for their play was a direct assimilation of Pokemon Go.

In the workplace switch your perspective and consider how something may be better managed or achieved with a digital start point. Then allow your young talent to layer their perspectives of the real world onto that. Traditionally we push from the real world and then negotiate a digital compromise – we need to switch this around.


  • Instead of just plain vanilla Casual Fridays have a themed day on occasion. Get your team to choose the themes based on their interests. Add a gamification layer to the day by arranging a competition element…. encourage those who proposed the theme to share their insights and enthusiasm with others on the team. This is a way to get to know your team better.
  • Create a peer mentoring program. Traditionally we have defaulted to normal or reverse mentor relationships where there is a hierarchical or age or experience differential between the parties. Get your team to identify areas where they feel they are strong, and areas where they feel they would benefit from the input of another member of the team – make sure they identify who these individuals are. Use this process to create a structured, yet informal, peer mentor program within your team. Play to their strengths and build areas of knowledge excellence.
  • Add an extra question into your conversations with your young high-performing talent. Ask them to take you through the top two apps they are currently using. Ask what the most useful / fun thing is that the app offers and if they see any potential business applications.

Effective talent management is essential if you want to develop long term relationships with young talent. By this we mean engaging with them meaningfully today so that, even if they leave you within a couple of years, their time with you would have been memorable and may mean that they boomerang back to you a few years on.

TomorrowToday Global