The first step of the talent management toolkit covers definitions, why we need talent management and how you can strengthen the workforce through inclusivity.

What is talent?

There are many definitions of talent and talent management. In the context of healthcare library and knowledge services, the word ‘talent’ refers to individuals who make, or have the potential to make, a significant and positive contribution to the performance of their organisation, their team or their profession: Talent is about current performance and future potential. To find out more, listen to our podcast

What is talent management?

‘Talent management’ is about ensuring that organisations maximise their talent, whether that be through recruiting the right people into the right roles, developing existing employees to enable them to realise their potential or making sure that talented individuals are motivated to stay with an organisation in the longer term.

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Let's talk about your talent

Why do we need talent management?

The case for strategic talent management is compelling and the evidence suggests that it is a key priority for Chief Executives in all sectors. Today’s healthcare librarians and knowledge specialists, operate in an evolving landscape, working within and in partnership with multi-disciplinary teams. The strategic positioning of library and knowledge services both organisationally and systemically contribute to the need for effective talent management.

Workforce development planning is key given an ageing workforce, shortage of professionals to fill key specialist roles and the changing nature of the skills required to make an impact in this field.

Active talent management may happen at organisational level using internal frameworks and processes; within a health economy or across geography.

Nurturing individual talent and building a strategic approach

Talent management is crucial at both a strategic and at an individual level. According to the Ashridge Business School (2007), ‘leading organisations view talent management as a strategic priority and an important long-term investment’. At the same time, talent management is about the value every individual brings to the organisation. Training/Learning Needs Analysis (T/LNA) can provide a structured way to identify skills needed in particular departments, teams or sectors. A helpful fact sheet produced by the CIPD has more information.

Talent Management is about understanding people’s unique contributions and ensuring they receive the development they need to have the maximum impact in their current or future roles. This toolkit is focussed on maximising talent at the individual level.

Strengthening the workforce through inclusivity

An inclusive approach to talent management enables us to acknowledge, understand and address our unconscious bias.

Research suggests that employers feel that there is a risk that people with the following characteristics are not treated fairly in a talent management process:

  • Introverts
  • People with low self-esteem
  • Younger workers
  • People with mental health problems
  • People lacking basic skills, such as literacy, numeracy or IT
  • Individuals with English as a second language, such as immigrants
  • Single parents who may not have the time and resources to invest in their development
  • Individuals with a poor work history, such as ex-offenders
  • Older workers

In his report about discrimination in the NHS, Roger Kline (2014) looks at the potential dis-benefits on patient care of the prevalence of certain groups in the most senior positions in the NHS.

Reference list

Ashridge Business School (2007) Talent management: a strategic imperative.
Accessed 11th August 2020

Kline, Roger (2014) The snowy white peaks of the NHS: a survey of discrimination in governance and leadership and the potential impact on patient care in London and England. Project Report. Middlesex University, London
Accessed 11th August 2020

Page last reviewed: 15 June 2021