January 2011
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TD Magazine

Talent Management Can Be Taught

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aligning talent management with corporate strategy to achieve business goals and sustainability is no longer a hallowed, yet unattainable fantasy. From this work by two of the industry's revered human capital geniuses, learning professionals can unlock the keys to gaining talent master status in their organizations.

Conaty speaks from his 40 years of experience working closely with CEOs Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt at General Electric, and Charan shares his insight from advising companies around the world that, like GE, are legendary for their best-in-class talent practices.


The business superstar duo begins the book by shedding light on GE's inner talent workings through personal stories (including how the company responded to the sudden resignation of Larry Johnston, CEO of GE's appliance unit). They delve deeper into GE's leadership development system and real-life scenarios to prove that it really is possible to link people with numbers.

Part two examines other leading organizations with human capital practices that serve as benchmarks for those seeking a talent measuring stick. Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Procter & Gamble, Agilent Technologies, and Novartis each shine for the tools and techniques they use to shape their leaders. Part three also highlights cutting edge organizations - Goodyear, UniCredit, CDR, and LGE - that exhibited exceptional talent management during times that demanded strategic change. The authors warn readers, however, to resist from creating cookie-cutter practices, saying, "Keep in mind that principles matter more than mechanics: rigor, discipline, and candor are the foundation of talent mastery."

After dedicating three-fourths of the book to narratives that are sure to leave you feeling inspired and, perhaps, envious of the companies that have already solved the talent mystery, the authors conclude with an actionable plan for those serious about putting their people first. This Talent Masters Tool Kit provides specific guidelines for assessing and improving talent mastery capabilities in any organization. Designed to help translate the ideas and practices described in the book into action, the tool kit includes principles of talent masters, guidelines for your next talent review, ways HR leaders can partner with business leaders, and lessons learned on leadership and talent management.

For its compelling and realistic discussion of one of the hottest topics in the industry today and applicable tools for knowledge transfer in any organization, I give Talent Masters three cups of joe.

About the Author

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.

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