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Strategic Talent Management

Valerie Williams

By Valerie N. Williams, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Faculty Development, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and College of Medicine

What is “strategic talent management?” At its best, strategic talent management is a set of integrated practices used by business enterprises to align organizational needs and achieve desired outcomes with the competencies and skills of the organization’s employees, or the “talent.”

Who should be involved in strategic talent management? In a college of medicine, strategic talent management should involve decision makers—those central to the identification, hiring, development, and effective deployment of faculty and staff (the talent) to achieve the college’s goals, aspirations, and mission; and the talent.

What does talent management include? Talent management as a concept is not foreign to academic medicine. However, sometimes only a few components are visible to all and not the integrated whole. Integrating the components enables talent management principles and tools to be used strategically; that is, in a way that enables the organization to leverage opportunity and limit risk. Although individual organizations approach talent management differently, the following components are typical:

  • Recruitment—finding the diverse talent needed by the organization; for example, search process and hiring
  • Retention—securing individual talent through appropriate compensation, perquisites, rewards, and recognition so she is not easily tempted to leave your organization, especially to work for your competition
  • Onboarding*—ensuring that your newly hired talent is introduced to how your organization works to understand how her work is integrated into the larger enterprise and becomes a member of the organizational community and culture; finding her “fit”
  • Development—building the talent’s competencies, knowledge, and skills, including self-management and leadership skills; continuing as relevant to career path throughout the career lifecycle.
  • Goal setting/goal alignment—connecting the talent’s individual interests, aspirations, and goals to those of the organization to accomplish mutually desired outcomes
  • Feedback and performance assessment—guiding the talent about what demonstrates effective performance, then measuring the talent’s achievement of results tied to personal, unit-level and organization-wide productivity, performance expectations, and outcomes
  • Succession planning—preparing the talent, through exposure to leadership responsibilities and challenging assignments or projects, to step into real-life leadership roles—as more senior personnel transition out of the role through advancement, reassignment, retirement, or resignation.

With their broad mission, medical schools cannot be successful without engaging talented faculty and staff. We want to foster a return on the investment already made by searching for and hiring highly capable people. Strategic talent management puts tools to work that facilitate integrating those talented people in ways that deploy their skills to deliver meaningful outcomes for the individual and the organization.


1. Goldsmith M, Carter L. Best practices in talent management: How the world’s leading corporations manage, develop, and retain top talent. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer; 2010.
2. Fox S, Bunton S, Dandar V. The case for strategic talent management in academic medicine. Washington, DC: Association of American Medical Colleges; 2011.
3. Mallon WT, Grigsby RK, Barrett MD. Finding top talent: How to search for leaders in academic medicine. Washington, DC: Association of American Medical Colleges; 2009.

* The concept of onboarding differs from orientation in its scope and duration—typically, on-boarding takes place by introducing modules of information over time or as the subject matter becomes relevant. It is focused on the work itself rather than the required tasks associated with being newly hired.

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