Program objectives in talent management

Program goals in talent management 

William J. Rothwell, Ph.D., SPHR, Honorary Member CPLP 

As a talent management consultant in many organizations, I often encounter the challenge of explaining the objectives of this program. In simple terms? A goal is the desired outcome of a talent management program. My research shows the existence of as many as 22 possible goals that can be achieved through talent management programs. Unfortunately, organizations cannot achieve all 22 outcomes to the same extent. Therefore, it is necessary to prioritize.

What I mean by talking about the goals of talent management programs? As already mentioned, goals are the reasons for the existence of talent management programs. These are the desired outcomes expected from the program. These outcomes should be linked to the actual strategic needs of the organization.  

In many organizations today, a typical goal of talent management programs is to prepare the next generation of leaders. The retirement transitions of the baby boomer generation are impacting many organizations worldwide, not just in the United States or the European Union. Approximately 1 in 5 senior managers are eligible for retirement. Since there is a correlation between age and level within the organizational structure – few CEOs are 21 years old – many organizations are facing the challenge of senior managers reaching retirement age or being very close to it. This problem is compounded by the fact that many organizations have undergone downsizing in recent years, resulting in a reduced number of well-qualified, experienced middle managers ready for promotion to higher positions.

In many cases, organizations are limited in their growth potential because they do not have a sufficient number of internally prepared talents available to meet their expansion requirements. This leads to frequent talent “hunts” or “raids” in the external job market. Many organizations compete for a small pool of well-qualified candidates, resulting in high turnover rates in some firms and “wage wars” for salary increases.  

Some organizations believe that other goals may also be important, such as: improving workplace diversity at all levels, increasing retention of potential leaders.

Program objectives in talent management can therefore focus on desired outcomes. However, they are not very useful if they are not measurable. While it may be helpful to state that a talent management program is necessary to meet the needs arising from managers’ retirements or organizational development, it is not sufficient. How many people should be prepared within a specific time frame to meet business needs? In this case, it is also worth adding time constraints and measurable criteria.

Based on this article, you can ask yourself the following questions regarding talent management in your organization:

  • What are the business needs, according to the management, that justify the decision to establish a talent management program?
  • What are the business needs, according to the CEO, that lead to the decision to establish a talent management program?
  • Have the goals been specified and are they measurable?
  • Have the outcomes to be achieved within a specified timeframe been established, and has an action plan been prepared?


William J. Rothwell, Ph.D., SPHR, Honorary Member CPLP 

William J. Rothwell, Ph.D