Book Review: The Talent Management Handbook

Book Review: The Talent Management Handbook

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edited by Lance A. Berger and Dorothy R. Berger

McGraw-Hill ©2004, 448 pages

Best Practices From Leading Organizations

Human resources systems and processes can be difficult to connect into a complete and consistent methodology. To offer senior HR executives and practitioners a systemized approach for linking organizational excellence and effective employee management, talent management consultants Lance and Dorothy Berger have compiled contributions from many experts into a complete guide to talent management. The Talent Management Handbook describes the best ways to create a successful talent management system that can improve an organization’s return on HR investment, as well as the performance and satisfaction of its employees.

Keepers and Superkeepers

The Talent Management Handbook helps organizations create and maintain excellence through proactive talent management. Drawing on their extensive research and consulting assignments, the Bergers have identified three key steps to a complete human resources strategy that can drive an organization to sustainable success. These three strategies for managing human resources are:

1. Identify, select and cultivate “Superkeepers” — the employees your organization cannot afford to lose. These Superkeepers are those who have demonstrated superior performance, who have inspired others to achieve superior performance, and who embody the organization’s core competencies. Typically, no more than 3 percent to 5 percent of an organization’s work force are classified as Superkeepers.

2. Locate and develop highly qualified backups for key positions, which are critical to organizational continuity. Key positions cannot be vacant for any length of time nor can they have less than a highly qualified, readily available backup. Typically, no more than 8 percent to 12 percent of an organization’s positions are classified as key.

3. Allocate training resources to employees based on actual and/or potential contribution to organizational excellence. An organization must invest in employees based on a clear hierarchy of contribution. After Superkeepers, the hierarchy of investment includes Keepers. These employees exceed performance expectations, help others to improve their performance, and exceed expectations in demonstrating the organization’s core competencies.

A Comprehensive Approach

The Talent Management Handbook is divided into seven parts, the first of which offers the Bergers’ comprehensive approach to managing an organization’s employees. It tackles the difficult task of integrating the various assessment, planning and implementation elements of talent management into a single approach that addresses each of the three human resources strategies. By outlining the external talent management forces that can impact the management of talent, the authors describe each talent management component in detail.

Building Blocks

The remaining parts of the book, with chapters by different contributors, focus on the building blocks of talent management: assessment tools that are used to build a talent management plan and create a basis for talent development. These building blocks include organizational competencies, performance appraisals, and forecasts of employee potential. The authors point out that these building blocks are essential for the accurate placement of employees and identifying who is a Keeper, a Superkeeper, a Solid Citizen, or a Misfit.

The Talent Management Handbook also handles diversity issues; improving employees’ capabilities; and the effective distribution of career development, coaching and rewards.

Based on research conducted by Lance A. Berger’s & Associates, Ltd., the Bergers describe how successful organizations systematically managed their human resources to meet these six human resources conditions:

1. A performance-oriented culture.

2. Low turnover (especially in premium employee groups).

3. High levels of employee satisfaction.

4. A cadre of qualified replacements.

5. Effective investment in employee compensation and development.

6. The use of institutional competencies in employee selection and performance evaluation processes. ~

Why We Like This Book

The Talent Management Handbook shows human resources practitioners how they can commit to excellence and recognize the importance of the drivers of success, and provides the tools and methods that can help them do it. By presenting a structure for the development of high-caliber talent, the Bergers, with the help of the book’s contributors, have constructed a useful process for creating and enhancing an infrastructure of human resources systems and processes that can lead any organization to success through effective people management. ~

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