There has been some interesting talk this week in the HR space about talent management: everything from using the performance review as a way to define top talent to a radical idea about turning our understanding of talent management on its head. Here are three articles to spark some conversation in your HR department.

Mining the Performance Review: Regardless of industry, company size, or department, everyone seems to be talking about Big Data and, specifically, using analytics to make smarter decisions. HR is no different, but Katrina Busselle writes over at the Talent Culture blog that there is a great source of data that we may have been ignoring for too long: the performance review.

She says that using your top performers’ performance reviews as a benchmark can help you identify the qualities that are key to success in your company. This can help you decide what to look for in new recruits, as well as which skills to build in the employees you already have.

“A big part of solving all of these talent issues is knowing precisely who your top talent is and what sets them apart. Once you have clarity on these matters, you know what to look for when recruiting new talent and developing current employees.

“So yes, identify your top talent. But do more than that. Define your top talent. Clarify and codify why they’re your top talent. Do so and you’ve got a roadmap for success.”

A Radical Idea:. The annual fortnight at Wimbledon ended on Sunday, and watching the tournament got Sukh Pabial thinking about the way tennis players manage their careers—and wondering if it is a model that would lend itself to the work world.

Tennis players, he points out at his blog, manage every aspect of their careers. They decide what success looks like to them. They set their goals, and they pick the team of people who are going to help them achieve those goals—coaches, trainers, etc. What, he wondered, would that look like in an organization? No more management plans or growth plans. Just the talent deciding their goals and the courses they are going to take to get there.

“Imagine that we’ve got our concept of talent all wrong. It was never about a nine-box grid. It was never about identifying talent at every level of the organization. It was never about talent pools. It was never about succession planning. It was never about performance management. It was never about holacracy. It was never about the 70:20:10 theory of learning. It was never about democracy in the workplace.

“Instead it was all about the individual stepping up and making things happen. No managers. No hierarchy. No control. No risk management. No contingency plans.”

Creating an Alliance: At LinkedIn there’s an excerpt of the new book by Reid Hoffman, the site’s co-founder. The book is called The Alliance, and, in the excerpt, Hoffman and his co-authors argue that we need to strengthen the employer-employee relationship.

Everyone talks a good game. Both the employer and employee go into a relationship smiling and talking about being together for a long time. But both sides know that in this era of at-will employment that is probably not likely. It is only a matter of time until the employee is let go or leaves for another opportunity. You can’t build a loyal relationship with that knowledge.

Employers are reluctant to invest a lot in the employee who might take that training and leave for a better opportunity. Likewise, the employee, knowing that his or her time at the company could be short, is reluctant to invest fully in the company’s success.

Hoffman says that, to overcome these barriers, an alliance between employers and employees must establish a framework for both sides and lay out expectations and rewards.

“In an alliance, the manager can speak openly and honestly about the investment the company is willing to make in the employee and what it expects in return. The employee can speak openly and honestly about the type of growth he seeks (skills, experiences, and the like) and what he will invest in the company in return by way of effort and commitment. Both sides set clear expectations.”

With the world of work changing quickly, and the expectations of employees changing with it, it’s never a bad thing to spend some time thinking about talent management. Will you let your talent manage itself or work on your employer-employee relations? How will you bring a radical spark to your talent management?

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