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3 Talent Management Considerations for the Caribbean HR Practitioner

Talent is one of the key ingredients required for an organization to be successful. If we can agree on this point, then it is reasonable to suggest that HR should be concerned about talent management. In the Caribbean, there is a shift towards digital transformation in the workplace primarily due to COVID-19. There is no better time than the present to start thinking strategically about how talent management is executed within the workplace.

What is strategic talent management?

One of the most highly cited definitions of strategic talent management states that it constitutes

“activities and processes that involve the systematic identification of key positions which differentially contribute to the organization’s sustainable competitive advantage, the development of a talent pool of high potential and high performing incumbents to fill these roles, and the development of a differentiated human resource architecture to facilitate filling these positions with competent incumbents and to ensure their continued commitment to the organization.”

Collings and Mellah 2009, 304

If we are to use Collings and Mellah’s definition, HR practitioners within the Caribbean should be considering at least 3 things pertaining to talent management : what are the key positions which will be needed post-COVID-19; where can I find the individuals with the requisite skillsets to become members of the talent pool; and how will I define talent?

What are the 3 things that HR Practitioners should consider when thinking about Talent Management?

1. What is the talent philosophy of the firm?

A talent philosophy in the simplest term refers to how talent is defined by the key decision makers. How do you define talent? Is talent all people or a selective group? Is talent something you are born with versus something which can be developed? Should the focus be on input (ability and motivation) or output (excellent performance and success). It is suggested that the lens in which we define talent will inform the talent management practices of the organization. For example, if the key decision makers believe that talent is developable, they will be willing to build talent as opposed to buying talent.

 2. What capabilities will we need?

The future of work is here. It has been fast-tracked as evident by a number of companies attempting to get digital and move the business online. Digital transformation may require a different skillset than that which exists in house. This is the time to assess the alignment between the skills needed for the present and the future with the skills residing in your talent pool. If gaps are found, a strategy will need to be developed to acquire this skillset. Will you focus on training to develop current employees versus examining the external labour market to acquire talent?

3. What are the pivotal positions which will contribute to gaining a sustainable competitive advantage i.e. strategic versus non-strategic jobs?

Pivotal roles are the jobs and positions which enables your company to operate more efficiently and effectively. It will be important for HR to lead the process to identify these critical roles. This may require job analysis to determine which roles we will keep, transform or introduce based on the value and uniqueness it brings.

Once pivotal roles are identified, the status of the organization’s talent pool should be assessed. A few questions to consider include: Are there individuals within the organization who will be able to fill those roles? If not, how much is the organization prepared to pay to acquire new team members? Additionally, how willing is the organization to capitalize on opportunities which may arise for example, due to lay-offs or redundancies. There may be persons who you were unable to afford in the past, who will become available on the job market.


The ability of HR Practitioners to be strategic and proactive in the approach to talent management should contribute positively to the success of the firm. The labour market is changing, the needs of organizations are changing and the needs of individuals are changing. It is becoming increasingly obvious that talent management will need to be given priority. Is talent management in your list of priorities ?

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