​If I was to ask you to define what you believe ‘talent’ to be, how would you answer this question?

As an exercise, take a pen and piece of paper out and try writing down what you believe ‘talent’ to be and how you might identify an individual as talented from your perception of the concept.

Have you got that down? Great!


What is talent?

If I was to open the Oxford dictionary it would refer to talent as ‘a natural ability to do something well.” However, as talent is a concept rather than a tangible thing, this would then mean that this is subjective and may differ from one person to another due to their own personal beliefs and values.

So, if talent is not the same thing to each person, how can we then determine if someone is to be considered talent or talented in the context of an organisation?

(Pfeffer, 2001) argues that in an organisational setting, talent should be defined and operationalized in light of the organization’s culture, environment (i.e., industry, sector, labour market), and type of work.

(Wiblen 2016) details the various ‘conceptualisations of talent’ by which there are four general groupings of understanding of what talent is:

  1. The first recognises individuals as high performers (Blass 2007; Snell 2008)
  2. The second is the view of talent in terms of particular skills and capabilities identified and valued as being critical to the organisation’s operation and/or strategic direction (Blass 2007; Lah 2009).
  3. The third category refers to talent in the form of functions. This involves the identification of roles/resources that are critical to the strategic success of the organisation. (Wiblen, Grant, & Dery 2010).
  4. The fourth category involves a more inclusive approach with the understanding that ‘everybody is considered talent’.


It is worth noting here that these are not mutually exclusive – meaning that organisations can choose several ways in which they wish to identify what talent is within their organisation or even department/team.


How is talent identified and managed in your organisation?

Now we have an understanding of the consensus of what talent is in the context of an organisation – if you look back at your piece of paper where you listed your view of what talent is – did it fall into one of the above categories? This is a great exercise to undertake to identify what you value and see as talent, before applying this to an organisational context.

The next step in this process is now to identify what your organisation ultimately values and what it perceives as talent within this internal context. As talent management is the unequal allocation of company resources, the identification of what talent is, and can then have various financial impacts on the organisation.

Does your organisation have a clearly defined scorecard or method of identifying talent?

Great! Should this already be defined in your organisation, the next thing to consider is; ‘does this then align with what I believe to be talent’?
Should you currently manage staff or have the ability to allocate organisational resources on behalf of your business, then it may be worth reflecting on whether you currently identify talent via your personal beliefs or whether this is solely actioned via your organisation’s internal method of talent identification.

My organisation doesn’t have anything set up – where do I start?

If your business does not currently have a clearly defined method or approach on how talent is defined, then the identification of what is considered talent will not be structured and there is a strong chance resources are being distributed on the personal values of the manager only, rather than an agreed social construct of what talent is in your organisation.


Key Takeaways

Now more than ever, organisations need to have a clearly defined approach to identifying and nurturing key talent. This needs to be strategically aligned with the organisation’s goals and can vary from department to department or team to team. But ultimately, people all have their own perception of what talent is. Therefore, managers must be able to understand their own values and that of the organisation to accurately identify key talent to invest organisational resources into.

If your organisation needs assistance in identifying your talent identification and management methods, Employment Innovations can assist. Reach out to our team for more information.



About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.



The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.