Five levels: How inclusive is your talent management?

Talent management philosophy is moving in the direction of inclusive talent management: By ensuring that the entire workforce is considered for talent-building programs, much-needed skills can be fostered across the board, thereby boosting employee commitment and motivation, and making employer branding more effective. Keep reading to discover where your company stands. Our test will reveal all you need to know!
May 13, 2022
5 min
Dr. Judith Widauer, tts digital HR experts Dr. Judith Widauer

There are various steps on the path toward inclusive talent management. The reasons why a company is currently at a particular level can be wide and varied. But no matter where you stand, it’s always wise to regularly scrutinize your talent management strategy. Does it (still) suit your needs and conform with current philosophy? Or does it require some fine-tuning to pave the way to the next level? 

Level 1: Vague talent management

The term talent management is not an integral part of your day-to-day HR work. The identification and fostering of talent is all rather haphazard and based on inherited structures. The decision on whether or not a particular employee is to be fostered is primarily in the hands of the respective manager. Talent management activities are not supported by any form of dedicated software.

Level 2: Exclusive talent management

Only a select few highly valuable employees are regarded as talents. The bulk of the company’s HR development budget is invested in these high potentials or A-players with the goal of ensuring that key and management positions are filled. HR software solutions are primarily used for recruiting, identifying and advancing high potentials, along with classifying employees into A, B or C players.

Level 3: Hybrid talent management

This involves a mix of exclusive and inclusive talent management: Special programs are used to train and qualify high potentials and A-players for key positions. Furthermore, over half of employees have access to talent programs, e.g. to help them acquire new skills. Talent management activities involving the creation and maintenance of the various talent pools are supported by dedicated software.

Level 4: Inclusive talent management

Due to their individual strengths, all or at least the vast majority of employees are considered talents. The suitability of the employee’s abilities and knowledge for the respective position is the decisive factor. All employees have access to talent programs and a talent management system, enabling them to manage their own advancement to a certain degree and also to pursue a horizontal career path.

Level 5: Self talent management

The gold standard of talent management, this involves a combination of inclusive talent management and the employee experience. Employees are stakeholders in their own development, using software-based tools to nurture and manage it independently. This involves self-directed learning, self-nomination for talent pools and programs, continuous feedback and networking with colleagues.

Test: Wie inklusiv ist Ihr Talent Management?

Test: How inclusive is your talent management?

Time for the big reveal! Tick the answer to each statement that best applies to you and discover which level of inclusive talent management your company is currently at.  

Our HR development policy is based on traditional career paths. 

  • Yes, that pretty much sums up the situation. (1) 
  • No, alternative development opportunities – such as horizontal career paths – are available. (2)  
  • I can’t really say that we follow any kind of HR development strategy. (0) 
  • Our employees manage their own development independently. The HR department and experts support them as coaches. (3) 

In our company, talented employees are regarded as potential candidates for key and management positions. 

  • I have no idea who our company regards as a talent. (0) 
  • Yes, that’s the way it is. (1) 
  • No. In our company, all employees are considered talents and can develop according to their respective strengths. (3) 
  • We want to foster the abilities of all employees, but the ultimate decision is usually up to the respective manager. (2) 

Our managers know the strengths of individual employees. 

  • Yes, absolutely. (2) 
  • No, only the strengths of our high potentials are known. (1) 
  • This issue is not seen as a priority. (0) 
  • I really can’t say one way or the other. (0) 

Our employees are also able to switch positions horizontally within the company. 

  • Yes, this can be done without difficulty – and it’s even encouraged. (3) 
  • I’ve never heard of this concept. (0) 
  • Yes. Employees and managers regularly get together to consider what direction an employee’s next career step could take, and also carry out a “reality check”. (2) 
  • This is possible, but nobody would ever do it. (1) 

Our employees use feedback to grow professionally. 

  • Yes, constructive feedback is part of our corporate culture and an integral part of our everyday work. (3) 
  • Our employees primarily use feedback as a way of improving their performance and getting closer to the next step of the career ladder. (1) 
  • Yes, we use regular team and development meetings, or feedback sessions once a project concludes, to stimulate employee growth. (2) 
  • No, we don’t have a feedback culture. (0) 

A horizontal switch furthers an employee’s career.  

  • Yes, that’s true. The entire company benefits when our employees can deploy their strengths in a more effective manner via a horizontal switch. (3) 
  • No, a horizontal switch acts as an impediment to advancing one’s career. (1) 
  • A horizontal switch is rather unusual, but would not harm an employee’s career. (2) 
  • I simply don’t know. (0) 

Our employees can manage their own development. 

  • Yes, we allow self-nomination in all areas of talent management. (3) 
  • This is possible after prior consultation with the respective manager. We also offer regular development meetings. (2) 
  • No. Individual employees are classified as high potentials based on particular criteria and they then participate in a talent program. (1) 
  • I simply don’t know. (0)  


0 to 4 points: Vague talent management 

Tip: You need to fine-tune your talent management activities. The first step: Define who is regarded as a talent – all employees or just specific ones? Use this as a basis for devising a talent management strategy, along with a program for its implementation. 

5 to 8 points: Exclusive talent management 

Tip: You need to capitalize on the strengths of all employees. Why not start small, for example with a job rotation program for a pilot group? This way, your employees can acquaint themselves with new areas and roles in a relaxed atmosphere – and your organization reaps the benefits of diversity. 

9 to 13 points: Hybrid talent management 

Tip: You need to take the next step toward inclusive talent management: Ensure transparency with regard to development opportunities. Consider which channels of communication are best suited for reaching out to employees. Don’t rely fully on your talent management system, but also use informal networks.

14 to 17 points: Inclusive talent management 

Tip: You’re nearly there: To arrive at the final level, i.e. self talent management, you need to do more to foster a sense of personal responsibility and self-determination, and facilitate self-nominations. You can also use unusual formats, such as BarCamps, to achieve this. 

18 to 20 points: Self talent management

Tip: Congratulations! This is as good as it gets. Keep up the good work! Continue to invest in transparent communication and in new methods that capture your employees’ enthusiasm and enhance the employee experience.

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