Frost (2016) defines talent as “people with ambition and potential…it refers to aptitudes of different people matched to the needs of an organisation”. What is interesting, is that the idea of potential within talent management continues to be raised across the literature and is a key element to be explored and defined. However, it is High-Potential that needs to be considered, where, “high-potential employees are the ones who have the ability, aspiration, and engagement aspects” to provide organisational competitive advantage, positive influence on performance (Sweis, Sharef, Jandali, Obeidat and Andrawes, 2018).
The concept of talent being connected to the needs of an organisation, provides further thought about the importance of standards and that what is deemed as talent is occupation specific. Every organisation should have its own set of criteria and conceptualisations of what is deemed as talent (Sweis, et.al, 2018). It confirms the difficulty of transfer-ability of skills from outside of education into the education space and connects to the findings from Roza, Elio, Harvey & Wishon (2003), where it is unlikely that applicants from outside of education will be considered for principal positions.
Homogenous Talent Management or HTM has been the popular talent management strategy of the business for the last few decades, however as Frost (2016, p.7) identifies “HTM is talent management that fails to account for or benefit from difference”.
Corporations that approach Talent Management from a HTM approach, are often adopting homophilic practices in their recruitment and promotional processes. It is reflected by employing “the known” – employees from within the existing workplace or with pre-established relationships, even when an unknown candidate may be better. Employing from the known, reduces risk, but can limit opportunity for growth.
In business, most promotions also go to extroverts over introverts and approaches to employing difference are more often focused on recruiting difference that can assimilate into the existing culture, rather than difference that can challenge and enhance existing practices and culture.
There has been a growing awareness for the need for diversity, however this is more superficial for example by the use of quotas. While there are positives to quotas in assisting employers to help identify unconscious bias, they can be seen as a “rearguard action, a crude, insensitive intervention and another barrier to the free flow of talent”. Creating targets for one marginalised group can further exclude other marginalised groups.
Quotas can further reduce the incentive of target groups to invest and can be internalised as a subsidy and reduce drive and confidence of applicants from target groups. Further, quotas can add uncertainty into promotion decisions as to whether it is a merit or quota decision for appointment.
Frost (2016) calls for a new inclusive approach to talent management (ITM), which doesn’t create targets and rules to follow, but removes barriers, focusing on all employees reaching and working at potential.
Sweis, et.al. (2018), reflect that talent management can have a substantial impact upon an individuals effectiveness in the team environment. However, individuals who self-identify as being able to perform and offer more, feel entrapped by their roles, due to a lack of acknowledgement from their managers, lack of talent definition and current positioning that fall below their competences.