Rule of the vital few: Position Management and Workforce Segments are vital keys in managing talent.

Talent Management requires a high level of engagement from top management, business leaders and HR. In short, Talent Management, when taken seriously, demands concentrated management attention and thereby requires significant investment from the company. The principle of giving each employee an equal share is unfortunately inhibited by limited company resources. Especially in Talent Management, companies have to focus on those talents who will have major impact on the immediate and future business success.

As business is getting more and more complex, there is no longer the “one” talent pool for leadership development – more specific pools either for scarce workforce segments or different aspects of talent have to been build.


Essentialy, there are two ways to group employees across the company:

1. Position Management

2. Workforce Segmentation.


Position management displays a position hierarchy across the company based on the requirements of the organization or processes in the business.

Positions are also the foundation of job family concepts that merge common attributes of different positions into jobs and job families.

Position management is important in linking a position and its holder to particular job attributes that may trigger Talent Management or Learning processes, especially when the whole workforce is not in scope of Talent Management solutions.

Most established on-premise HRIS solutions deliver sophisticated applications to manage positions and the company´s organization. Typically HR departments have special roles that are dedicated keepers of the Org. Management system and are responsible for the complete position management and its correct mapping in the system. Nevertheless the effort of keeping the Org. Management up-to-date is hardly suitable for Talent Management purposes. The systems use Org. Management to provide processes, workflows and user´ rights.


A lot of companies start to struggle when they try to add a serious job family concept to their system, for example to build up strategic workforce planning. Not surprisingly, even major companies are unable to export a correct organizational chart out of their HR database. Today´s Org. management configuration in on-premise systems is needed to run the system rather than deliver target group oriented HR products. Due to this fact Position Management is typically only a theoretical application of the installed systems but not appropriate for Talent Management activities and demands.


Workforce segmentation bundles employees characterized by specific attributes but which are not related to Position Management.

Workforce segments contribute individual attributes of employees such as performance, development perspectives and potential or individual negotiated contract elements such as employee status, bonus agreements or even time-management classifications.

There are different structural elements such as Employee Groups, Job Families, Job Grades or Job Levels and all can be used for such segmentation by taking into account the varying aspects in the system set-up. In the on-premise systems Workforce Segments are difficult to install. That is the reason why HR processes with a strong link to the individual attributes of employees such as Performance Management or Succession Planning are very rarely supported by the HR Core System. As a consequence companies focus on a very tight target group or start with a small pilot group when implementing workforce segment specific programs to avoid huge efforts in manual operating processes. Often the programs stay in this initial stage and do not deliver the expected impact to the business.


So which perspective is required to successfully identify the target group of Talent Management?

In fact both perspectives of the organization are important. With Position Management, HR is able to identify the key positions within the company and define the basic attributes of potential candidates required for these positions. Workforce segments are needed to identify the right people that will become future holders of key positions. Key Positions, Top Performer and High Potential can be located anywhere in the organization. To successfully identify, attract, develop, engage, reward and retain talent successfully, undoubtedly HR needs both dimensions.


New HR technologies indeed facilitate the use of both dimensions for grouping employees. Nevertheless this task is very tricky and still needs a strong focus on the initial conceptual work, as well as ongoing iterative reviews during the implementation phases of a new system.


When setting up Talent Management systems, project teams must take into account both the structure of position and the employee attributes. Working on these structuring elements is a necessary and challenging task that is not a one-time job during the implementation.

Pure top-down approaches alone, with tools such as standardized skill catalogues or non-agile job families will not lead to a broad system of engagement in Talent Management but rather increase the risk of building up a dead-end in the system.


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