The Talent Management Process Explained
Building a great team isn’t luck—it’s strategy. And it all starts with effective talent management.
The talent management process involves seven key components:
- The recruiting process
- The hiring process
- Professional development
- Team member engagement
- Performance management
- Team member recognition
- Succession planning
Together, these steps help you attract, hire, build, and retain a strong workforce made of your industry’s top talent.
The talent management process in 7 steps
Before digging into these steps, you’ll want to develop a talent management strategy (if you don’t already have one). By planning your strategy in advance, you’ll be able to work more effectively as you move through the entire talent management process outlined in this guide.
1. The recruiting process
Talent management begins with talent acquisition—more specifically, establishing the types of candidates you need to recruit and the talent pool you can tap into. You’ll need to decide:
- Whether you need a full- or part-time hire
- If the new hire needs to work in your office or if they can work remotely
- What skills and core competencies a hire must have—and which ones are optional
- Whether any prior education or work experience is necessary for the role
- If the hire should already have, or be willing to get, specific certifications
Once you’ve worked out the details of what an ideal hire will look like, you can then begin moving though the recruiting process. This involves:
- Creating a job description
- Posting the job description online
- Reviewing resumes or proposals for the right skills
- Creating a shortlist of top candidates
- Scheduling time to chat with each top candidate
- Conducting any necessary prescreening assessments
You can opt to do these recruiting steps yourself, work with a staffing agency, or bring in a recruiting coordinator.
You can also explore other alternative staffing solutions, which can be a great way to improve and streamline your recruiting process—including working with independent talent or starting an internship program.
2. The hiring process
Once you’ve identified a top candidate through the recruiting process, it’s time to move forward with hiring and onboarding.
The hiring process involves several steps, including:
- Extending an offer to the candidate
- Receiving the candidate’s acceptance
- Setting a start date
- Properly classifying the new hire
- Establishing how the new hire will be paid (such as adding them to your payroll or providing an email address to which an independent contractor can send invoices)
- Arranging any necessary systems access, such as a company computer or email account
Once your new hire is properly classified—meeting appropriate legal and tax requirements—and all preliminary paperwork is done, you can move forward with their onboarding and training experience.
If you plan to hire multiple people with similar roles and skill sets, it’s a good idea to develop a repeatable training program that you can use to get every new hire onboarded and aligned. (An onboarding specialist can help with this.)
As an example, a remote team member onboarding program might include:
- An introduction to the company organizational structure
- An overview of key processes and systems
- In-depth training on specific tools to be used by new hires
- Information security seminars
- One-on-one conversations with a colleague or mentor
Creating a comprehensive onboarding process can potentially help new team members stay at your company longer—the first six months at work is a critical time when new hires often decide to stay with a company or leave as soon as possible.
This, in turn, saves your company money. According to Gallup, replacing a team member can cost as much as two times their salary.
Step 3: Professional development
Training and supporting your hires doesn’t stop after onboarding, either. By offering your teams career development opportunities, you can:
- Further cement team members’ commitment to their role and work
- Open up career paths for team members to advance in new roles
- Prepare team members to become leaders
- Provide teams with the chance to upskill
- Improve internal capabilities and processes through the adoption of new tech
- Increase job satisfaction and retention rates
Offering professional development and learning opportunities is also an important part of an integrated talent management strategy, which can help you elevate the quality of your hiring to an even higher level.
Professional development initiatives can take a number of forms, such as:
- Bringing a consultant or trainer into your office to train your team
- Paying for your team members to attend an online workshop
- Scheduling an off-site event full of hands-on learning and brainstorming sessions
- Attending an industry conference
- Covering the tuition cost for your team members to take work-related classes at a local university
- Asking each team member to give a presentation about their role and work
- Running an office book club and hosting monthly discussions
- Setting up fireside chats with company leaders and industry experts
An independent organizational development consultant can help you craft the right program for your team members.
Step 4: Team member engagement
Professional development is just one way you can keep your team members engaged in their work. Engagement is further reinforced by:
- Working with team members to set goals they’re excited about working toward
- Supporting team members’ well-being and work-life balance with flexible or hybrid scheduling and time off
- Giving team members support as they work through tough problems or toward stretch goals
- Creating opportunities for collaboration and teamwork
There are actually three types of team engagement that you can cultivate at work: cognitive, emotional, and physical. Taking strides to build engagement in each of these areas can help team members feel comfortable about and proud of their work with your company.
In turn, your team members are likely to be more productive, trusting, and accountable—which helps the whole company’s performance.
Step 5: Performance management
Regular one-on-one communication is an important part of team engagement—and performance management, in turn. When you’re regularly chatting with your team members, you can remain tuned in to how they’re feeling about their work with your company.
Performance management goes beyond discussing areas for improvement or chatting about current projects. A comprehensive performance management strategy includes:
- Identifying areas of professional development that can help team members advance in the company
- Having conversations about where team members see themselves in the company
- Helping team members decide where they may be best suited to grow within the organization—and opening up paths to those growth opportunities
- Looking for potential signs of burnout and giving team members appropriate support and resources
- Making sure you’re utilizing team members’ skill sets to their fullest
- Providing feedback (both positive remarks and constructive criticism) for team members’ performance
If you do find that a team member is struggling in their role, you can explore the reasons why and look at potential ways to improve work performance, including:
- Scheduling further professional development and training
- Providing support from an employee assistance program (EAP)
- Trying out new time management tools and processes
- Bringing in independent talent to support teams during periods of high intensity
You don’t want to wait until it’s time for an annual performance review in order to have these conversations, either. Open, continual communication can be more organic and comfortable for team members, as opposed to scheduled annual performance appraisals.
Your HR department or an independent employee training specialist can provide support and guidance when developing performance management plans for your team.
Step 6: Team member recognition
When your teams are performing well, it’s a good idea to recognize their hard work at a group or individual level. This helps team members feel seen and appreciated. Recognition can further reinforce their engagement with your organization.
Team recognition can take several forms, including:
- Public acknowledgement among the team or company
- Fun team outings or events
- Team lunches
- Financial bonuses
- Additional time off
Team recognition isn’t just about rewarding the very top performer, either. If your team members have been working hard on performance improvements or achieving professional certifications, take some time to recognize their hard work as well.
Step 7: Succession planning
A succession plan is a document that outlines how leadership and ownership roles will evolve over time. The succession planning process delivers many benefits to both business owners and workers, including:
- Team members gain increased confidence in their job security and role with the company
- Individual team members get clarity around their advancement path and can set personal goals
- Collectively, teams get a better understanding of how their roles and departments may evolve through a sale, acquisition, merger, or initial public offering (IPO)
- Leaders planning to retire can see a roadmap for how important transitions will take place
- Managers have a clear picture of what roles they may need to fill, and when
Your succession plan can also be part of your larger workforce plan and a complete business continuity plan.
How can the talent management process be improved?
Your approach to talent management will likely be a continually evolving process. Every time you hire and onboard a new team member, you’ll gain new insights and takeaways as to how your talent strategy can be improved.
As you continue to improve your talent management practices, you’ll:
- Improve the accuracy and fit of your hires
- Find new ways to successfully onboard and retain new hires
- Build a strong workplace culture
- Gain confidence in your business continuity
Start by improving the following three components of talent management systems—and keep evolving from there.
Focus on workplace culture
Building a strong company culture supports your hiring process right from the very start, as top talent is attracted to companies with great culture. And it doesn’t stop there—the positive impact of a good workplace culture enhances multiple aspects of the talent management process:
- High performers are attracted to companies with a great work environment
- Workplace culture influences (and is communicated through) effective onboarding
- When workplace culture includes support for professional development, team members continue to feel supported and rewarded
- Team members are inclined to stay with the same company and advance into new roles
- Teams speak positively of their company to colleagues and friends, providing referrals that further support hiring efforts
Get support from top management
For the talent management process to work—and continually improve—everyone at your company needs to be on board, including top management. When everyone from the top down is supportive of the talent management process, you can see benefits like:
- A strong candidate pipeline
- Support for training and development plans
- Successful execution of a succession strategy
Team members aren’t the only ones who should be setting development goals—your talent management system can be improved by setting talent-focused business goals, too.
Try setting SMART goals to support your hiring and business strategy. This type of goal uses a five-part framework to support your success:
- Specific. The goal clearly states what needs to be accomplished, and who is responsible.
- Measurable. Each goal in a SMART plan is able to be clearly measured and assessed for progress. Be sure to define the measurement metrics, too!
- Attainable. Goals should be realistic to achieve given the resources and time available to you and your company.
- Relevant. A SMART goal must be relevant to your business.
- Time-bound. Your goals should have a time frame in which they will be achieved—this helps with measurement.
Find the right talent on Upwork
Developing a good talent management process requires care, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Upwork is your source for finding skilled independent talent and full-time hires in any industry—and nearly every country.
Whether you want to find and select independent talent yourself through Talent Marketplace™, get help from a Talent Specialist™, or work with our Enterprise team, Upwork is where you can find the world’s best talent. We’ll even help you classify and onboard your new team members—making talent management easier than ever.
Get started today by creating or logging into your Upwork account and connecting with top talent.